Are you paying attention to the internet of things (IoT)? Whether you’re a designer, an engineering manager, or the head of a company, you should be.
That’s because the smart, connected devices that make up the IoT can tell you things about your products you could only guess at before. And that new knowledge can help you edge out the competition as you develop better targeted and more competitive products.
Here’s how it works: tiny sensors and transmitters added to a product instantly collect data—from the test lab or from the field. You can use these components to measure heat, deformation, wear, and so on.
This data can answer questions like: What failed during prototyping? How did my design hold up under field conditions? Are customers using new features as intended?
In short, IoT helps you get to the truth about your designs. And that truth can inform your engineering throughout the product lifecycle—from the very first prototypes to future generations of revisions.
If you or your company wants to fully take advantage of the IoT’s power, here are a few tips:
Sensor-enable your prototypes. Capture the specifics of how your prototype performs during testing. We call this Performance Based Analysis (PBA), and it removes the guesswork from interpreting subjective feedback.
Using PBA, you pull actual test data into your CAD system, analyze it, and improve your product’s design and manufacturability based on facts, not assumptions —before it ever goes into production.
Drive design decisions during prototype testing based on real data—not assumptions.
Put your fleet to work. Now that you’ve nailed the prototype, use embedded IoT technology to see how products perform in the hands of your customers. This presents unprecedented opportunities for data-driven design (DDD). With IoT, you capture and analyze data, not just during testing, but from a whole fleet or family of products at work.
Think about it, You can also use this real-world data to optimize future generations of your product, or design for specific use cases. For example, you may learn that in certain regions, users work in rougher conditions. You see a market opportunity nobody ever noticed before for a ruggedized version engineered to perform in extreme climates and conditions. With the data you receive from your current laptops out in the field, you can engineer your “rugged” line just right for the market.
Your service and support team will appreciate the insights from the field data too. Now, they can work more proactively, identifying and replacing parts at risk before widespread failures occur.
Data-Driven Design (DDD) harnesses real-world data from populations of connected products in the field to improve serviceability of current products and drive more informed next-generation design decisions.
Design for connectivity (D4C). Finally, consider D4C. Because, let’s face it, not all data is good data. The information that comes back from sensor-enabled products can actually overwhelm your systems, making it hard to distinguish the critical data from the noise. On the other hand, you don't want to find you’re missing key data.
As you adopt an IoT strategy think about the data you’ll need and how you’ll process it, right from the start. And don’t forget to include downstream teams—like service—as you define the requirements for your IoT-enabled devices.
Thoughtful upfront planning like this will help you optimize sensor location and quality, and ensure you’re collecting relevant data streams.
Integrating requirements for D4C into core product design specifications optimizes design, manufacturing, and servicing—and drives next-gen product design.
Designing based on real data instead of assumptions brings real benefits: The data becomes a solid foundation on which you can
As markets transform and more companies connect their products, the IoT, and the promise of all the data it can deliver, becomes increasingly important to master.
Wherever your design team is on the path to leveraging the potential of smart, connected products, PTC has the solutions to solve today’s design challenges and the vision to support your journey to making the potential of IoT a reality. Learn more about emerging technologies that can help you along your way with insights from industry thought leaders in the eBook, Smart Connected Product Design.
Cat McClintock edits the Creo and Mathcad blogs for PTC. She has been a writer and editor for 15+ years, working for CAD, PDM, ERP, and CRM software companies. Prior to that, she edited science journals for an academic publisher and aligned optical assemblies for a medical device manufacturer. She holds degrees in Technical Journalism, Classics, and Electro-Optics. She loves talking to PTC customers and learning about the interesting work they're doing and the innovative ways they use the software.