The Internet of Things (IoT) is called as such because in theory it is supposed to mean everything for everyone. Each “thing” that exists in the world will have the capability to be connected, talking to each other, producing data and operating automatically in a system that erases the lines between digital and physical worlds. And when you really think big picture, that can mean everything from cities in which everything is running in sync, houses that power themselves and countless more sci-fi possibilities.
In manufacturing, because compared to the more intangible realms of financial services, healthcare or what have you, the IoT plays a very special role:
In the CIO Talk Radio podcast “What the Internet of Things Means for Manufacturing”, Gartner analyst Simon Jacobsen sees five immediate challenges and possibilities posed by the IoT for the manufacturing industry.
1. CIOs and manufacturing leads will have to move even more rapidly
Jacobson says manufacturers have moved heavily toward individualization and mass customization as part of the luxury of connected products. But in order to enable that, you have to maintain alignment with supply management, logistics functions and partners to make sure all service levels are maintained: “I have to have knowledge of my processes and optimization of my processes at a hyper level, not just simply understanding at week’s end or at the end of the shift where I need to make adjustments and improve,” Jacobson said.
2. Security must be reimagined
A connected enterprise means that you can no longer just physically secure the facility but must blend approaches of mobile and cloud-based architectures with industrial, control and automation in mind, making sure information is being managed. Jacobson says the challenge will be to merge the skills of engineers and process control teams with IT and unify their disparate approaches to security.
3. IoT will create more visibility in process performance
There’s always been some form of automation and control in manufacturing, but implementing new business applications powered by IoT will allow you to connect devices to the factory network and know tolerances: “Being able to connect those dots and derive contexts of how processes are performing is absolutely going to be where the ROI is coming from,” Jacobson said.
4. Predictive maintenance can generate revenue for OEMs
Asset performance management is highly valued today. This is the ability to drive availability, minimize costs and reduce operational risks by capturing and analyzing data. OEMs have already started creating revenue by using IoT-enabled tools like predictive maintenance in order to guarantee uptime, outcomes and certain levels of performance for the customer: “When you guarantee these kinds of outcomes to the customers, you have to look at this from two different perspectives, how I monetize this but also how my customer monetizes this,” Jacobson said.
5. Production will play a new role in the manufacturing value chain
The boundaries between the physical and digital worlds are blurring. CIOs and manufacturing strategists can use the IoT, big data and cloud to redefine the role production plays in the manufacturing value chain. It no longer has to be restricted to being a cost center, and this has all to do with the new ability to not just accelerate but innovate on the factory floor. It’s the CIO’s challenge to keep pace with these new competitive changes.