Machine-to-machine communication and big data analytics are changing everything. Perhaps nowhere is this more true that in the manufacturing industry. Companies that were paragons of manufacturing efficiency to begin with are now gaining unbeatable edge through the use of machine-to-machine-to-man communication. Here are five ways the Industrial Internet is poised to change–and benefit–your business.
1. More resources for the business
The whitepaperThe Industrial Internet@Work,by Marco Annunziata and Peter C. Evans, states: The Industrial Internet can reduce waste and inefficiency “through software and analytics, data visualization tools, mobile collaboration devices with intuitive user interfaces, and contextually relevant information. It will enable preventive maintenance based on the actual conditions of industrial assets, bringing us toward a world of ‘no unplanned downtime.’”
The Industrial Internet–at its core a series of sensors, working together to gather and analyze data for a specific purpose and/or to uncover new ideas—is creating efficiencies that were unimaginable just a short time ago.
“The so-called Industrial Internet involves putting different kinds of sensors, sometimes by the thousands, in machines and the places they work, then remotely monitoring performance to maximize profitability,” according to the New York Times articleG.E.’s ’Industrial Internet’ Goes Big. “G.E., one of the world’s biggest makers of equipment for power generation, aviation, health care, and oil and gas extraction, has been one of its biggest promoters."
With all of the efficiency and none of the waste seen in the past in manufacturing environments, companies can marshal freed-up resources to focus on strategic business planning.
2. Better decision-making capabilities
Smart companies are using big data and big data analytics to inform strategic planning, as well as to root out small issues before they become big problems. Even smarter companies are making sure that big data comprises information from the whole of the company, not just a select few departments or groups.
With that said, companies must understand that big data requires resources and skilled personnel to make sense of it all, according to Siegfried Dais, deputy chairman of the board of management at Robert Bosch GmbH and a limited partner at Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG. In a discussion with McKinsey experts published at McKinsey.com, Dais said, "With all this new information available—about interdependencies, the flow of materials, the cycle time, and so on—manufacturers can lower their inventory costs and reduce the amount of capital required. But don’t forget: This involves huge amounts of data, and the fundamental prerequisite for such a system is that it is stable and reproducible. Common sense won’t help here; this involves rigorous mathematics."
Dais added that these mathematical algorithms are in place, but the people who can effectively apply them to big data are in short supply right now. Many experts peg "data scientist" as a hot career moving forward because the demand will be so high.
3. Improved asset monitoring capabilities
Industrial Internet systems enable companies to more effectively keep track of not only what they have but how each system is performing.
"Most companies think of physical flows—meaning the flow of material components through the supply chain—as separate from information flows and then consider how and where to coordinate and synchronize them," said McKinsey’s Markus Löffler. "After the fourth industrial revolution, there will no longer be a difference between information and materials, because products will be inextricably linked to ’their’ information."
4. More effective collaboration
The Industrial Internet will put information immediately at stakeholders’ fingertips, and enable them to “collaborate more and more effectively,” according to Annunziata’s and Evans’ paper.
5. New training and education opportunities
The term “Industrial Internet” is still relatively new, and some people are working to fully leverage its potential. In the “good problem to have” department, this will require new training programs, which will create new opportunities for workers in the manufacturing field as the promise of the Industrial Internet becomes even more fully realized in the future.