Recently, Lopez Research published a white paper entitled Building Smarter Manufacturing with the Internet of Things (IoT). It is a worthwhile read especially for industrial and manufacturing companies as they wrestle with the implications of IoT for the factory floor and beyond.
The paper describes what IoT means for manufacturers today, including some of the compelling business benefits and value from improved connections between people, processes and data. A recent video infographic, ‘Manufacturing Tomorrow’s Possibilities’ produced by Cisco Consulting Services cites some statistics, including how intelligent connections across the value chain resulted in ‘reduction of time to market drives 1.2% bottom line improvement’:
With these kinds of tangible savings and business improvements, the logical question now is how do we make IoT a reality today for manufacturers? The Lopez Research white paper also delves into five specific use cases including justifications and some real-life examples. These five business scenarios are: factory visibility, plant automation, energy management, proactive maintenance and connected supply chain. Lopez Research then takes a prescriptive approach and describes the four key pillars, “technology elements” that form the foundation for implementing IoT: network, security, software systems and big data and analytics. I find these days that many of my conversations with manufacturers show that they view the first one (network) as a given and that their more immediate focus is on industrial cyber security.
As I read through the white paper, I was also struck with how many of the best-in-class companies are already implementing some of the strategies and use cases that are laid out. In fact, I was recently visiting a customer, a leading meat processing and packing firm, with a very distinct vision of what they want to do to implement IoT all the way from their B2B customer interactions through production and supply chain operations. They understand how IoT will significantly impact their business strategy with improved service delivery, more flexible “mass customized solutions”, benefiting from reduced downtime and lower cost basis. For many companies like this customer, a Connected Factory that truly enables smart manufacturing is not just a far-off vision but an immediate business objective that is part of an overall competitive strategy.
What are your short-term and long-term goals for leveraging IoT in your manufacturing facilities? What business IoT use case is your immediate priority and why?