If there was ever any doubt that digital manufacturing solutions are key to unlocking business value, the events of 2020 have rendered that mentality all but obsolete. Digital disruption has become “the new normal,” and it goes without saying that there is incredible value to be gained by digitally transforming your manufacturing business into a connected enterprise.
Digital transformation includes many different innovative technologies: The industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), artificial intelligence, automation, blockchain, and more. New technologies appear seemingly every week. So how do you know when a given technology is no longer a science project and exploratory risk, but rather a tried-and-true method of unlocking business value?
Writer and tech advisor Geoffrey Moore offers a compelling framework for understanding how the market has evolved and when it makes sense to take advantage of emerging technology. He says that once emerging technology offers tangible business value for almost any business, it has “crossed the chasm.” This means that it’s no longer just an intriguing concept pursued only by earlier innovators, but rather one which is an integral part of the industry and is critical to maintaining a competitive edge.
IIoT is one such technology that has evolved into a mainstream solution, driving significant and immediate value to the “early majority” across the chasm, as Moore notes. Connecting machines, employees, and processes, IIoT powers digital transformation and can be implemented to strategically address business needs one step at a time, driving your highest value use cases first. Even taking the first step towards digital transformation has the potential to turn data to dollars. Instead of buying point solutions like remote monitoring applications for a single machine, manufacturers are investing in fully fleshed out use cases like OEE, real time production performance monitoring, and smart connected factory solutions. And that’s not all—IIoT has impacts across the enterprise, from manufacturing and engineering to sales and marketing.
At PTC, we are at the forefront of implementing IIoT technology and creating immediate business value for our customers and partners. What was previously a vision is now a documented reality. In my new role leading the Customer Reference team, it is especially exciting to bring forward the type of customer stories that inspire others to think big. Let me give you three very recent examples:
Rockwell Automation identified the business impact of implementing IIoT across their six global facilities. They selected several key use cases that could be implemented quickly and drive tangible value, including using predictive maintenance and analytics to optimize asset efficiency, reduce machine downtime, and increase throughput. The results of the initiatives were significant, including a 75% reduction in downtime on those lines!
Howden, a global manufacturer that produces industrial air and gas handling products, launched their Data-Driven Advantage initiative to better service the machines and equipment for their industrial customers. This broad digital transformation effort began with the creation of an IIoT-based platform that turns data into meaningful insights for their equipment operators, enabling them to make efficient decisions and reducing the total cost of ownership. Howden built on their success by adopting augmented reality (AR) solutions among their global service and sales teams. When COVID-19 changed how Howden needed to operate, these augmented reality tools were the key to facilitating remote assistance, training, and sales initiatives.
CIMC, a world leading supplier of logistics and energy equipment, leveraged IIoT technology to drive their smart manufacturing initiatives. Beginning with pilots in two of their factories, they integrated IIoT with their MES to enable real-time production performance monitoring and predictive maintenance. They achieved value within two months of their go-live, reducing work in progress by 16%, unplanned downtime by 30%, energy consumption by 13.2%, and manufacturing cycle time by 16 – 20%. They’ve since deployed IIoT to 35 plants, with energy savings estimated at $15M USD.
It’s clear from PTC customers and partners that IIoT is a powerful force for connectivity, but it also paves the way for other technologies that are “crossing the chasm” in their own right. As remote work continues to evolve and normalize, technologies like AR are making sweeping changes to how manufacturers work, learn, instruct, and support their customers from a distance.
When IIoT and AR work together, manufacturers can leverage the connected data to visualize and construct solutions and help employees work more efficiently. With remote work here to stay, the combination of IIoT and AR is quickly proving the way to not only stabilize operations during uncertain times, but to implement lasting change and drive significant business impacts.
Time and again, we’ve seen frontrunners embracing the advanced technologies that quickly become the industry standard. Those that don’t adapt get left behind. But by focusing on business impact and value, manufacturers can ensure they are prepared to drive progress and scale across the entire enterprise.
Mark Gallant leads PTC’s Customer Reference and partner Marketing teams, supporting our Strategic Partnerships with Rockwell Automation and Microsoft, our GSI&MC partners, as well as our Technical Partnerships co-marketing teams. He has more than 30 years of direct manufacturing experience in discrete, process and hybrid manufacturing.