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Using the Internet of Things (IoT) to Digitize Your Factory

- September 14, 2015 - 3 Comments

We’ve been hearing a lot about the Internet of Things or IoT. How it’s going to accelerate efficiencies. Grow profits. Disrupt industries. So it’s time to consider if IoT is real & if you should do something about it right now.

As is often the case, revisiting history can help us better understand what the future holds for us. Imagine it’s 1995, and you’re just starting to hear about this thing called the World Wide Web. How’s it’s going to use the Internet to disrupt commerce/communications and how it’s going to create a digital divide of haves and have-nots? At that time, companies like Compaq, Kodak and Sears were in the Fortune 100 and mobile phones were predominately used for phone calls.

Since then, startups like Google and Amazon have disrupted computing, shopping and entertainment, as well as mobile-web applications that dominate how we live our lives. The companies that survive are the ones that have deployed e-commerce platforms to engage with customers and suppliers, and have strategies to integrate the Web into their business.

Now fast-forward to 2015 and the projected $3.9 Trillion Value at stake for IoT in Manufacturing. Which begs the question: How do we make IoT work for us? And how can it drive change in the various manufacturing verticals?

IoT@ Work in Food Manufacturing

SugarCreek offers an excellent case study for how IoT can be utilized to optimize production, improving factory capabilities and enhancing analytics specifically for consumer packaged goods (CPG) or food & beverage (F&B) manufacturing. By way of background, SugarCreek is the largest independent processor of bacon, meatballs, sausage patties and chicken for both food service and retail. They are about to finish up the refurbishing of a brownfield plant, to create a 418,000 square foot Factory of the Future. Take a look at this video to see an overview of Sugar Creek’s business:

Actually, SugarCreek is ahead of the trend that Food Manufacturing magazine describes:

“IoT is a logical extension of the push to create more intelligent manufacturing processes. By embedding interactive technology in key machines, food manufacturers gain the ability to automate the optimization of equipment in real time, dramatically reducing or eliminating the risk of equipment failures capable of shutting down the entire process”.

Ed Rodden, the CIO of SugarCreek & I will be co-presenting the SugarCreek case study at the upcoming Smart Industry Conference happening from October 5-7 in Chicago. Ed will describe the decision process for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)smart industry 2015 platforms in their new manufacturing plant, including insight into primary use cases, converged factory technologies and new architectures.

I will describe the IIoT process that SugarCreek went through. How we considered each key area of factory operations from product enhancements to how to better enable their workforce. We held workshops with key plant & IT stakeholders to discuss business outcome for each area that included:

  • Reducing expenses by optimizing plant operations
  • Increasing revenues by improving plant capabilities
  • Contributing to a safer & cleaner environment

In order to drill into the technology required in each area, we considered specific pain points & use cases such as how they could strengthen Quality Control through the utilization of technology to identify & eliminate packing material that may be mixed in with meats or how they can increase plant capabilities by including more sensors into their production process. Solving each pain point required a combination of devices, networks & applications to provide a complete technology platform. We will go thru how we conducted a high level return on Investment (RoI) analyses to help the company to quantify the costs & benefits of each platform & prioritize the platforms that would provide the greatest bang for the buck. Find out more details by attending our session.

We hope you can join us for this conference and in particular, this session on Industrial IoT. See you in Chicago!


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  1. Yeah it is better to utilize the technology in industry field for our benefits as the profit will certainly grow exponentially. Yes a huge amont of money needs to be invested but it will get paid off soon enough. Bots will soon take over the world eh? Labor works can be avoided and we as human could focus on creative field more right?

  2. Technology is advancing at quite a pace. In only 20 years we could saw the changes it has on industry. Manufacturing process has becoming faster, more reliable, detailed, you tell me. Thus lead us for a better profit. If IoT could really put into use, there is no doubt that I will try. I believe it would not hurt and should it bears success, huge profits will come as well.

  3. You make a very good point about the growing opportunity for disruption brought about by IoT technologies, RJ. I've written and read many times that companies need to begin their onboarding of these new technologies or risk being left behind. Looking forward to hearing what you and Ed have to say about SugarCreek's new factory during your Smart Industry case study!