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The IoT Is Reinventing Manufacturing

February 18, 2016 No Comments

Featured article by Magnus Jern, President, Mobile Application Solutions Division, DMI

No longer a catchphrase or a vague notion, the Internet of Things is in full swing. McKinsey & Company estimates that the IoT has a total potential economic impact of $3.9 trillion to $11.1 trillion a year by 2025. Manufacturers are already spending considerable amounts of money on mobilizing the enterprise, including connecting employees, products, services and machines/vehicles. Digging deeper, we can see what functions in the business they’ve tackled first.

Gartner reports in “The Internet of Things and the Enterprise” that the way that the IoT is leveraged by enterprises varies substantially by industry. Retailers, for instance, can add RFID to their anti-theft tags to help manage inventory and help keep costs down. Some mining companies are using IoT to creates fleets of self-driving trucks that will work more efficiently with less maintenance at a reduced cost. The report noted that the manufacturing sector in particular has high hopes for the IoT. “Leveraging IoT in vertical industries will definitely revolutionize the traditional way of doing things.”

It’s no shock that one of the primary ways manufacturers can engage with the IoT is via mobile apps, as this is where organizations can achieve the fastest results with the smallest investment. Incorporating customized software for endpoints such as sensors and connected meters, and for connecting existing equipment and machines, immediately makes it more complicated. However, mobile applications are usually used in conjunction with standard hardware including NFC chips, beacons and connected equipment that provide information/data to the business. The mobile apps are a window and a data input mechanism for the manufacturing process. This also aligns with the focus of many IT organizations today: improving applications to better fit the business processes.

Failure to Plan is a Plan to Fail

Leveraging the IoT is certainly the way forward for manufacturing, but success is not guaranteed. Some ventures fail – so how do you succeed with your IoT strategy and projects? To start with, don’t just digitize existing business processes. Instead, think about how you can use IoT and mobile technology to transform your business.

Make sure that your plan includes the following:

- User involvement throughout the development process

- Clear objectives, KPIs and measuring of results

- IoT implementations supported by lean continuous improvements

- Training and education of employees, getting everyone involved

- Short iterative projects of maximum five months from start to MVP (Minimum Viable Product) launch

Current Applications of IoT

Seeing how others have incorporated the IoT into their processes and operations can help jump-start creativity. Here’s a quick look at some use cases.

Supply Chain Monitoring

Tracking product and/or service operations (production, warehouse, distribution): One of the largest cement and concrete companies in the world is driving innovation from various inputs (customer insights, technical innovation, local markets and business strategy). Through the use of IoT and a responsive Web portal with hybrid applications for iPhone, iPad and Android smartphones, the company is now able to track details about their customers, orders, invoices and deliveries on a daily basis. This covers all aspects of production, warehouse logistics and distribution, which has been key in increasing productivity, levels of customer service and cost savings.

Product Monitoring

Tracking products and services after they have been sold: A global manufacturer of indoor and outdoor environmental cleaning solutions and specialty floor coatings needed a way to consolidate and analyze their cleaning machine telemetry data, as well as make this data more actionable by delivering it to their internal management team, customers and field-based operators in real time. To accomplish this, the manufacturer had a logical architecture designed that allowed for the integration of machine data, SAP ERP data and other sources with minimal architectural impact to the client. The architecture also provided high-speed and performance movement of data from the machines to the reporting layer. This enabled the effective delivery of information that allowed them to retire maintenance-heavy legacy systems that were not scalable.

Premises Monitoring

Tracking the customer experience at the site where the product/service is being used (e.g. home, office, branch, and store): A major bakery brand with product in 20,000 stores worked with a developer to create an Android tablet application that eliminated paper-based data collection by its retail field team. This helped mobilize the business process of capturing in-store product data and equipped the team with real-time store card details, access to promotion and marketing collateral and an interactive product catalogue. Not only did this save time and create front-line efficiency, but it also updated corporate back-end systems automatically.

Reinventing Your Business

The IoT holds tremendous promise for the manufacturing sector, and many organizations are already reaping its benefits. As Gartner pointed out, the IoT is a revolutionizing force in how organizations run their business. But be careful; not every IoT project is a good idea. It must be thoroughly considered and vetted before time, money and market share are lost. Plan carefully using the five criteria listed above, and work with a partner who can bring in expertise as needed. For a larger discussion of this topic, download the white paper here.

About the Author:

Magnus Jern is president of DMI’s Mobile Application Solutions Division. He was previously the founder and CEO of Golden Gekko, acquired by DMI in 2013. Magnus has over 10 years of experience in content strategies, online marketing, search, location-based services, app development and mobile marketing for global consumer brands, retailers and carriers across the world.



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