How the Internet of Things Is Changing the Manufacturing Playing Field

July 17, 2014 - 2 Comments

MMH In the July issue of Modern Materials Handling (MMH), a very informative article appeared on “4 Ways the Internet of Things is Changing Manufacturing”. Editor-at-Large Roberto Michel presents an interesting perspective on the emergence of IoT and its impact on manufacturing today. Specifically, Mr. Michel presents four immediate business use case scenarios that can be implemented today:

  1. Equipment monitoring and optimization;
  2. Process, Machine and Occupational Safety;
  3. Materials tracking for WIP visibility, agility; and
  4. Lifecycle product traceability.

My colleague Douglas Bellin is quoted in the article that “IoT necessitates a break from siloed thinking”.  He explains:

“The biggest benefit we are going to start to see is the correlation of information from systems that typically did not work together or were not thought of needing to reference each other.  Historically, the information was stored in silos and was very difficult to get to. Now we are adding the connectivity to these machines and are able to extract the data, move the data, store it, and analyze it to see if abnormalities are occurring.”

Read more on Doug’s thoughts regarding IoT benefits in one of his recent blogs “Imagine the Possibilities with IoT and IoE”. The benefits that result from converging your production environment and IACS with Enterprise IT infrastructure into a fully Connected Factory can be quite significant, and have been for many global manufacturers like GM. The MMH article quotes Bill Ferrell of Clemson University (my undergraduate alma mater), “If the Internet of Things is this concept that inanimate objects can communicate over the Internet and be controlled, that strikes me as having the potential to revolutionize the way manufacturing is done.”

For a glimpse into what you can expect, some of my colleagues in Cisco Consulting Services created an animated infographic that presents some of the business outcomes and results of implementing IoT and IoE into manufacturing operations. Take a look:

Let me know what you think. Do you agree these are the four most applicable business use case scenarios for IoT adoption today?  What other manufacturing imperatives and business outcomes are you looking to achieve with IoT / IoE?  Send me a comment.  Thanks for reading.

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  1. Couldn’t agree more! I gave a speech in Chicago recently where I provided a vision of “The Era of Precision Manufacturing,” in which all of these factors combine to bring about unprecedented efficiency and reduce waste:

    One additional benefit? By building in sensors in its Durathon batteries, GE is not only able to monitor their performance in the field, but also identify defective batteries while still on the assembly line! How about 100% quality control?

    • Terrific, thank you for your response, Mr. Stephenson! No question from me about the impact of IoT in driving efficiencies (OEE) and Lean results (reducing muda, waste). And I cannot disagree that 100% quality control is feasible with IoT; though, I might reposit the claim as 100% quality assurance. I really enjoyed flipping through your ‘IoT: filling the Predictive Analytics data void’ presentation (, which reminded me of an 80s Readers’ Digest anecdote. A renowned physician (thoracic surgeon, as I recall) was addressing medical school graduates as part of Harvard commencement and warned that 50% of what the graduates learned is inaccurate. The real problem, according to the renowned surgeon, is that we don’t know which 50%. While I know the state of medicine has progressed profoundly since the 80s (progress primed to likewise accelerate with IoT), the story reemphasizes a quote in your presentation, “Can’t interpret data you can’t get!” And IoT is fundamentally about improving via more, better measurement with real-time, closed-loop optimization on a grander scale across very complex systems. Thank you for sharing!