2 Ways the IIoT Brings New Solutions to Old Problems
In my first post I spoke about the importance of building a business case when implementing the IIoT and how you should think of the IIoT as extending investments, not necessarily replacing them. In that post I covered three use cases – shadow sensing, expanding to semi-automated areas of operations, and connecting distributed systems. You will notice that those are largely new areas of exploration. These haven’t been tried before in many cases, but offer great benefits and are changing the way manufacturing operates.
But IIoT isn’t just offering new possibilities – it’s also changing the way we look at and implement traditional systems. This blog post will cover two ways IIoT and cloud are revolutionizing the traditional ways we do business.
Large assets are what matter
Old School: Traditionally, the most mission-critical assets were the ones prioritized for more complex forms of maintenance, things like condition-based or predictive analytics. This was because connecting/instrumenting additional assets was expensive, and it was hard to justify the cost and complexity. In addition, the relation of peripheral stuff wasn’t necessarily obvious to operational health, reliability or other KPIs. This meant less critical assets were run on cheaper, less effective maintenance strategies such as reactive maintenance or run to failure.
New School: With IIoT and cloud, the marginal cost of connecting additional assets to systems (especially cloud based systems) continues to drop. This means it’s now possible to connect a much larger spectrum of assets to predictive maintenance solutions. By optimizing these seemingly less critical assets, and integrating them in to the overall asset strategy companies can receive a significant boost to their overall asset performance and reliability. According to LNS research, one company added predictive maintenance to the small motors in their bottling plant, reducing unplanned downtime by over 10%. In addition, improving asset performance has a positive effect on every process that asset touches. This means boosting overall asset performance also results in a large process improvement across the board.
Track the quality process itself
Old School: Because of the sheer volume of products processed by the average manufacturing facility, traditional wisdom often dictates that it is impossible (or impractical) to track individual products (think unit level) through the entire quality process or value chain. Instead, quality efforts focus on the production process and sample modes/plans for checks. If the process is functioning, then quality is assumed across the system and checked based on time or event. This can often mean looser optimization. It can also mean a small number of below-quality products slip through, causing downstream issues such as product recalls.
New School: Increasing connectivity through IIoT has made it possible for manufacturers to tighten the quality checks at greater fidelity. Not only that, it is now feasible to do so on a unit by unit basis. Smart connected products can connect into existing manufacturing solutions and processes to drive improvements at the unit level. This is actually quite critical, for example, in many industries where allergens or contamination are of paramount concern. The smart connected products that enable this capability can conduct their own internal quality checks, in real time, and can then kick off automated workflows and exceptions anytime potential issues are flagged. These are then electronically dispatched to the quality and production teams and resolved immediately at the item or unit level. This ensures 100% accuracy across the quality process, while also reducing the cost of quality testing. There are other gains as well. Often this yields an increase in production since this removes a lot of inefficient manual activity. This is especially helpful in CPG/FMCG where manufacturers produce in volume, often times for sold-out products.
In short, IIoT is revolutionizing how we approach old problems, and transforming the way we do business. This is especially true in the infrastructure and manufacturing markets. To start seeing the benefits IIoT offers today, check out Insight powered by Wonderware Online FREE today!
Rob McGreevy is the Head of Corporate Strategy.