Recently, the second of a two-part Manufacturing.net webcast series on ‘The Internet of Things ’ (IoT) wrapped with a deep dive on the very real business advantages and outcomes that are enabled when IoT is fully applied to Manufacturing operations. One of the speakers, David Gutshall, Infrastructure Design Manager at Harley-Davidson Motor Company, highlighted many advantages he’s experienced with deployments of the Converged Plant-wide Ethernet solution architecture from Cisco and Rockwell Automation. In the webcast, David talked about “greater manufacturing flexibility across the supply chain, where … we can collate data across the factory (and enterprise) … and have experienced a substantial reduction in downtime.” He described that with an IP-enabled Connected Factory, “what used to take hours or days to triage and troubleshoot problems now takes seconds.” Expanding on the topic, David said “when we bring a new machine online, it essentially works with the network out-of-the-box,” yielding greater flexibility and significantly reducing new model NPI (New Product Introduction) cycles and time to market.
Similar companies, like General Motors, have leveraged this industrial automation and controls system (IACS) architecture, which GM calls ‘Plant Floor Control Network’ (PFCN), to reduce downtime by as much as 75% and to drive out hundreds of $millions in plant engineering, operations and maintenance costs associated with factory expansions and modernizations. Both GM and Harley identify one of the biggest advantages of a standardized yet flexible factory automation infrastructure is the acceleration of NPI offerings and advancement into new markets. Over the past decade, GM with partners has been able to gain a leading share of passenger vehicles produced in China, Brazil and other emerging markets. And as Harley rolls out their recently announced LiveWire electric motorcycle, I suspect that an integral part of their strategy includes the American manufacturing renaissance vision for a dynamic, fun, flexible factory of the future. Take a look at this inspirational video from Harley describing the modernization and transformation of their existing York Manufacturing Facility:
David Gutshall described during the Manufacturing.net Part II webcast how IoT in manufacturing has enabled “cross-functional competencies, a flattening of the organization.” As illustrated in the above video, David also elaborated on the example of Harley-Davidson’s implementation of a ‘Visual Factory’, where “dashboards showing the same views, including key sensor … (and) TAC time” information help to get all employees engaged, aligned and committed. When maintenance, controls engineering and IT are all empowered with a “single pane of glass” visibility to more accurate, real-time information, there is a cultural shift to work better, more effectively together towards common goals.
The opportunities and outcomes for IoT within manufacturing include improving time to market, asset utilization, manufacturing flexibility, reducing total costs of ownership, and managing and mitigating operational risks. Enabling technologies such as converged plant-wide IACS networking solutions are truly starting to change the landscape for manufacturers grappling with increased business challenges to control costs, drive quality throughput and better manage risks. Exemplified by Harley, the impact of IoT is much broader than just operational metrics or new connectivity. What IoT can drive is the shift toward cultural empowerment of manufacturing employees to become true partners to the business.
Please take some time to view both Part I and Part II of the Manufacturing.net webcast series and share with me your ideas, experiences and business outcomes associated with IoT in manufacturing, and how the convergence of network and technology are enabling cultural and organizational convergence and transformations. Thank you for taking the time to read this blog.