Competition drives many of the innovations across industry and that is especially true in industrial machinery where volume and efficiency are often critical metrics to success. Episodes one and two of the miniseries Future-proof with the IoT cover the role of competition in great detail, most notably with respect to low-cost competition and the transition towards commodification of some products. But spending much time in the industry, one would likely pick up on these trends. For the initiated, episode four is a great jumping off point into the value of industrial internet of things (IIoT) implementations.
The episode is full of great information, from examining the cost-benefit analysis of adoption to best practices and the incredible benefits that can garnered with even the simplest applications. But the most important take-away from episode four is that companies shouldn’t wait to implement the IoT into their workflows. This is for a variety of reasons and we will walk though some of them here, but for the full story make sure to check out the full episode on your favorite podcast platform.
Early adoption is everything
The first reason for earlier adoption of the IIoT is that when the next supply chain or process disruption that comes along, having even limited data analysis on operations can prevent the worst-case scenarios. Trying to implement these solutions to stop losses in an already tumultuous process is too late in regards to the current situation. Even if you can learn the new processes in time, it does not provide time to fail safely and learn from those mistakes because there is no one-size-fits-all solution to IIoT implementation.
Building on the value of learning the process in a low-stakes environment, it is important to start small. Waiting to implement everything a business might need at the last moment will likely throw the entire process into chaos. As our experts discussed in episode three even these small solutions can provide drastic benefits by solving the low-hanging problems. Building up from these simpler solutions establishes a definitive structure of connectivity between industrial machines, their IIoT data and the analysis thereof. If one machine is slowing down as it approaches its maintenance window, the system could try to increase production on another unit or in a different part of the factory to retain production capacity.
Without a wealth of factory or process data to draw from, it is nearly impossible to optimize the processes – both individually and at a facility or enterprise scale. The sooner IIoT is implemented, the faster the working data can be acquired. Returning to the goal of avoiding the impacts of supply chain disruption, having this process information can enable business to optimize how they implement just in time manufacturing, similar to what Toyota has done with its version of the manufacturing methodology. By indicating critical components or processes, they were able to determine what extra inventory would be important to continued production. This enabled them to keep production flowing through the chip shortage, while other automakers continue to sit on almost finished product.
The industrial internet of things is a fantastic process for gaining insights into your industrial processes, but it is only valuable if there is enough information before a problem arises and there is a process to pull the important conclusions from the wealth of data it creates. For the full story of how the IIoT sharpens your competitiveness, episode four of the Future-proof with the IoT miniseries is a great start.
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