IoT and a boom of connectedness
More than 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet by 2020. Among them refrigerators, wind turbines, smart traffic lights and cars.
Internet of Things (IoT) is the broad term for the interconnectivity of physical objects that enables sending and receiving data. It is also one of the core concepts of Smart Factories that improves manufacturing processes by bringing the intelligence to the table. With IoT, even the smallest part of a machine can be connected with a single protocol that sends messages, instructions and alerts. In addition, all the data is collected and analysed in a Cloud system that acts as a big, central “brain” of the plant.
For any company just starting out with IoT or simply considering implementing it into their factory, it’s important to understand that IoT is more of a concept than a technology that you simply install. This paradigm shift will present a cultural challenge for many organisations as they try to derive the most value from IoT. The cultural issues related to IoT are in some ways similar to those encountered during the adoption of enterprise-based Cloud services, as the Cloud is not really a technology as much as a new way of working. Getting the benefits of the Cloud requires a shift towards a self-service or IT-as-a-service mentality. Such changes are often met with strong organisational resistance. Maximising the benefits of IoT data might present similar challenges.
A self-service analytic insight creation mindset (for example correlating data from within disparate organisational silos) requires the managers to be willing to tear down territorial walls.
Lastly, it is important to start small with IoT. Many are tempted by the promised benefits of these technologies and try to leverage it everywhere. Try to identify the simplest, most beneficial use case within your factory and start there.
"IoT requires a complete change of how a factory is operated and managed. And we are talking a complete change in the company’s mindset about how the manufacturing works and what departments take part in it."
For example, IoT calls for a much bigger involvement of IT departments and reducing the number of the factory’s floor workers. Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself before implementing IoT in your factory: