Optimize Without the Overhaul

Written by: Cam Dufty

There are a lot of buzzwords around the Internet of Things (IoT). Even the name comes in many different forms: IoT, smart manufacturing, Industrie 4.0 . . . and more. It’s easy for the technology’s value to become buried under all the jargon. But in a lot of ways, IoT is no different than what manufacturers have been doing for decades—finding new ways to get the best out of their equipment. 

In this “Wrap-and-Extend” blog series we will focus on the true value of the IoT, behind the hype. Specifically, we’ll focus on how you can use the IoT to get the most out of your current industrial equipment—without being weighed down by lengthy implementations or paying for a lot of bells and whistles you don't really need.

Not Your Grandpa’s Connectivity

The first step in an industrial IoT project is always connectivity—whether to diverse assets, remote tools, different devices, sensors or software, or just general connectivity for interoperability across the whole ecosystem. Connecting tools for integrated data creates your IoT foundation, and how you build on that depends on your individual project needs. 

Of course, connectivity isn’t a new idea. Before IoT was even a glimmer on the horizon, plant floor professionals were MacGyver-ing ways to bring in remote data and get actionable information from different tools. The value of in-depth data has long been recognized—if it wasn’t so valuable, it wouldn’t be worth the hassle of creating cumbersome workarounds to gather that information. But even the best in-house workaround eventually turns into a silo—that’s just the nature of in-house solutions and their limited scalability.

Silo’ed-and-Static vs. Wrap-and-Extend

Integrated and seamless connectivity—without the workarounds—is where IoT comes in. Real-time, integrated, and accessible data is the core of a “wrap-and-extend” IoT approach that works with your current plant floor machinery, software and sensors. An IoT platform “wraps” your tools with functionality that enhances connectivity and breaks through data silos, and then “extends” that tool in a myriad of ways:

  • Extended data reach, as you get more in-depth data from the machine, including pulling previously siloed data and creating data synergy between other tools.
  • Extended machine performance and productivity, as you’re able to gather more role-based, real-time insights to make proactive decisions on productivity and maintenance.
  • Extended legacy usefulness, as tools that were previously out-of-date with modern technology get new life.
  • Extended plant floor scalability as your personnel can make more informed decisions and learn more about the intricacies of even the most complex machines.

With a user-friendly IoT platform, a wrap-and-extend approach creates more streamlined connectivity and provides more in-depth data, so you can immediately see what IoT can do for you, beyond the buzzwords. To learn more, download our “Smarter Manufacturing” infographic, which outlines more benefits and use cases for why wrap-and-extend is the best way to do a lot more with what you have, and not waste time on what you don’t need. And be sure to check back for the second post in this series, where we will look at how wrap-and-extend works with predictive data.

Download Infographic

Tags: CAD Retail and Consumer Products Connected Devices

About the Author

Cam Dufty

Cam Dufty has been writing about software and emerging technology for more than ten years. At PTC, she works closely with IoT, AR and CAD experts to help tell the story of how smart, connected operations are revolutionizing manufacturing around the world.