Author: Tronserve admin
Wednesday 28th July 2021 06:42 AM
Hype vs. Reality: Industrial IoT for Manufacturers
A lot of manufacturers have heard of Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) today. But the great majority of them are still figuring out whether they are worthwhile investments or simply just hype. At the end of the day, manufacturing is still about producing high-quality products faster and at the lowest possible cost.
The Disconnected Reality
Many manufacturing plants in the U.S. are more than 20 years old. Fewer than 14 percent of the machines on shop floors are “connected.” That means they do not have sensors or monitoring that can extract data about how they are operating. These older machines are vulnerable to breaking down, and they account for up to $50 billion (annually) in downtime.
Hype around Industrial IoT has many manufacturers believing that they must straight away invest in transformational technologies like machine learning, augmented reality, or artificial intelligence to increase any benefits around efficiency. But that is far from the reality. While manufacturers need to begin building the connected foundation to extract and leverage data, it does not demand a gigantic overhaul overnight. By leveraging a cloud-based platform, many manufacturers are initiating by focusing on Industrial IoT business drivers and then building on initial successes.
The Problem with Data in Manufacturing
A huge hindrance toward becoming more connected is getting at data in older machines on the shop floor. A lot of these machines do not have digital controllers or they have to have external retrofitting and sensors to pull operational data. This can commonly be difficult and expensive so a clear return must be identified to undertake the effort. For this reason, companies focus on the most critical equipment that may have been problematic in the past or represents a critical control point that affects delivery.
The other problem is even when data is available, there is anxiety around what to do with it. Raw data is not of much value unless there is a way to interpret it and make sense of it. Some manufacturers don’t have data scientists on hand to help with this endeavor. The hype around big data is that manufacturers who have entry to data will transform how business is done, but the reality is digitization just lays the foundation for understanding what is going on in any selected asset. There must be a way to visualize the data to make it workable.
What’s the Industrial IoT Reality Today?
Returning to the main mission of manufacturing — making high-quality products as cost-effectively as possible — the reality with Industrial IoT is more about leveraging capital they already have than it is about the promise of some far-off future. It is about identifing ideas and opportunities for improvement.
And many manufacturers are merely gaining visibility into their existing assets. They are looking at how to improve operational effectiveness by knowing what is happening on the shop floor. They are monitoring historical trendlines to learn, diagnose, and improve uptime and performance. They are discovering trends that could disrupt operations or quality performance.
Leading manufacturers today know that Industrial IoT is a strategy they can’t ignore — because there is a good chance that those manufacturers who do ignore it will be like many consumer companies that missed out on the Internet. They know that it’s important to start putting in the connected foundation that will leverage Industrial IoT now rather than wait.