The Rise of IoT in Process Manufacturing

Written By: Christa Prokos
  • 9/17/2015

Process manufacturers—companies that make food, beverages, pharmaceuticals, paints and other products involving formulas and chemicals—face constant pressure to improve operational performance.

Boosting efficiency and productivity can mean big gains commercially by outperforming market rivals, yet this goal is not easily attained. Manufacturing processes are complex.

End products may vary, but all process manufacturers share a common set of business challenges ranging from how to use assets and resources effectively, to how to reduce costs while bringing innovative products to market faster.

Additionally, process manufacturers struggle with the need for greater flexibility to respond quickly to volatile market demands, and the need to be able to spot potential issues early so they can adjust processes for optimal performance.

Internet of Things technology enables connected operations, giving process manufacturers the ability to collect data from connected equipment, sensors and devices that can be combined with data and intelligence from business systems and people. Such comprehensive visibility allows for real-time process adjustments and optimization.

“Our research has identified a number of business drivers behind IoT for process manufacturers,” says IDC Manufacturing Insights Research Manager, Heather Ashton, in a recent video. The top five are: lower operational costs, better customer service and support, business process efficiency/operations optimization and control, Information Technology optimization and/or modernization, and product and/or service improvement and innovation.

“With real-time asset health monitoring, manufacturing plants can achieve lower operational costs by monitoring equipment and operating parameters to automatically trigger alerts and protectively initiate a service response,” says Ashton.

Other industry use cases she cites include how chemicals companies are using connected operations intelligence to enable new revenue streams by shifting chemical delivery to an intelligent replenishment model based on real-time consumable data, and how consumer packaged goods companies are using asset and material tracking to detect and reduce theft and maintain inventory levels by tagging and tracing products throughout the supply chain.

“These use cases reflect some of the top drivers for IoT, and process manufacturers are finding creative ways to use connected operations for differentiation and advantage, says Ashton.

For more insights from Heather Ashton, watch the full video series by IDC: Reshaping the Manufacturing and Operations Landscape.

  • CAD
  • Industrial Internet of Things
  • Industrial Equipment

About the Author

Christa Prokos

Christa Prokos is a marketing manager at PTC. She researches and writes about the latest business trends and technologies impacting manufacturers, including the Internet of Things and Product Lifecycle Management. Christa has worked as a high tech marketing and communications professional since 2000. You can follow her on Twitter: @ChristaProkos.