Recently we attended the Connected Manufacturing Leadership Summit in Munich, a two-day event looking at the rise of Industry 4.0 and how manufactures can leverage this connected ecosystem to optimise processes and increase returns on IoT investments. On the first day, I participated in a panel discussion, “Smart Mobile Devices: How can you Connect Manufacturing Equipment to Smart Devices to Gain Real-time Analytics and Optimise your Processes?” during which myself and other IoT leaders in the space shared our thoughts around best practices for connected manufacturing deployments and what the future holds for digital transformation. Here are some of the top takeaways from the session:
From an IoT solution provider perspective, I felt it was important to note that before approaching a connected manufacturing project, businesses should be able to answer the basic question, “what information do you want disclosed to your organisation to leverage related IoT data and achieve transformative business performance?” With a clear understanding of the business objective and the business problem(s) that organisations are looking to solve, they can more accurately understand their exact use case including which business processes will be targeted, security requirements, etc. to drive the creation of a connectivity solution.
Several other panel participants with backgrounds in automotive and chemical engineering noted that transforming legacy, historical equipment into “smart devices” through the use of connected sensors and systems is the best place to start for organisations looking to improve equipment uptime and implement predictive maintenance.
Building from the momentum of the first question, essentially all panel participants claimed that connected manufacturing has benefitted their organisations through the use of predictive maintenance and other adjacent use cases. Most companies are still in the very early stages of implementing IoT and transitioning to a digital world. For them, it has been a huge step forward to simply get connected with basic IoT solutions such as measuring simple parameters such as stock on raw materials. Others that are more advanced in their IoT strategies are leveraging and analysing IoT data to optimise larger manufacturing practices such as early failure detection, and potential hazard detection.
The two most prevalent answers to this question were focused on understanding the potential of IoT and change management, as well as partnering with the right IoT provider and implementing the optimal connected solution that can be adapted to and supported by legacy equipment (where applicable). According to one panellist, with a background in large enterprise manufacturing processes, the biggest challenge is making sure people understand more intelligent machines and manufacturing processes and helping people accept and collaborate on going digital.
Another panellist cited the influx of new connected “things”, platforms, and other IoT solutions as a key hurdle in identifying where and how to get started in connected manufacturing. I added some context to this point noting that engaging the right IoT partners can be a critical factor for successful adoption of industry 4.0 solutions.
Standardisation and integration, including ecosystem partners, as well as AI were key themes during this discussion, as panellists discussed how further simplification and automation of connected manufacturing processes and solutions would lead to greater adoption, increased utilisation, and more valuable results. While many manufacturing IoT solutions exist today in “islands of automation”, the future will present more robust, interconnected networks of solutions.
For more information on connected manufacturing, reach out to KORE to learn how we can simplify the complexity of IoT for your business.