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Achieving High Impact Results Through Manufacturing IoT

By: Dan Johnson

As the new age of smart manufacturing gets underway, the Internet of Things is poised to be a significant driving force behind it. Smart manufacturing is all about capturing as much useful information as possible in real time, turning it into actionable insights, and using it to optimize things such as ERP and SCM. 

Now, it’s one thing to jump on the IoT bandwagon because it seems the right thing to do, it’s quite another to achieve high-impact, long-lasting results with it. However, by unleashing transformative IT in the process of implementing a manufacturing IoT strategy, you can achieve significantly greater flexibility throughout your entire manufacturing operation and across the supply chain.

Manufacturers that transform operations through the IoT will be able to take advantage of new business models that can fundamentally alter how they design and sell products. Modern manufacturing techniques and processes are driving product customization to new heights, enabling consumers to take part in personalizing the products they’re buying – customizing features, functionality, and appearance. The IoT will support the back-and-forth flow of data and information connecting customers and vendors to production to accommodate product personalization.

And it doesn’t stop there.

The IoT will enable products, their components, and their subsystems to be equipped with RFID chips, sensors, and software that will operate collectively as a product memory function. This machine memory can be used, for example, to store configuration data, production instructions, and work history. Equipped with their own memory, these smart products and subsystems will interact with production modules, telling them what needs to be done to successfully complete the order.   

Every manufacturing IoT implementation, however, is unique. There’s no off-the-shelf, one-size-fits-all manufacturing IoT solution. So, each manufacturer will have to answer the question “what does success look like?” and make the answer the cornerstone of their growth strategy. Then comes the hard part. They will have to resist the urge to constantly tweak it. If they continually adjust their idea of success, they will never achieve it. Success will remain elusive because the company will keep redefining it and forever chasing it.

The opportunities for utilizing the Internet of Things in manufacturing are many. However, embracing the IoT is more than just connecting devices and machines to the Internet. As both manufacturing and markets continue to broaden globally, seamless enterprise connectivity for more efficient ERP and supply chain management will no longer be a nice-to-have but a must-have. For many companies, incremental IT changes will not be enough. Globalization calls for transformative IT and the IoT will be a fundamental element of it.

The Internet of Things will be a key component of transformative IT that enables employees, vendors, and customers to become true partners in manufacturing. This kind of seamless integration of assets and activities can yield enormous benefits to manufacturers, including faster time to market, improved asset utilization and optimization, better workforce efficiency, smarter expenditures, and improved risk management. Now those are high impact results.