Τrillion-dollar projections on the expanding size of the market are urging companies to capitalize on the Industrial IoT [IIoT]. For many, however, it remains unclear how industries should apply IIoT to begin making the hyper-efficient and agile factory of the future a reality.
Fabio Bottacci, Founder and CEO of VINCI Digital and Industrial IoT Expert Contributor at the World Economic Forum and at the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES), shares his insights on how Industrial IoT is already increasing operational efficiency, saving time and reducing cost.
As the Fourth Industrial Revolution transforms manufacturing and material handling, enterprises continue to look for ways to create value from converging technologies. But what are the steps that companies need to take to put together an effective agenda of action?
Fabio Bottacci finds it essential that theimplementation of the industrial internet is incorporated into the company’s strategy and business development.
In other words, chief executives must embrace change. “In order to advance decision-making on the correct level, CEOs must be included from the very beginning, possibly as the initiative main sponsor. IT officers alone cannot drive real digital transformation,” says Bottacci.
Bottacci advises manufacturers to initiate the transformation by defining a specific set of goals, to be assessed and validated initially on a pilot project, before the implementation at scale of an end-to-end Industrial IoT solution. The next step is to deploy an industrial internet pilot in one facility, or on a specific production line, which will be used as a case study for learning how IoT works in this particular industrial environment. The pilot facility is then reworked and developed according to observations. After the test phase, it is easy for a company to apply the same principles, with proper adjustments, at scale to other facilities.
Bottacci uses the concept of flexible infrastructure to refer to how transformation can be simpler in certain contexts. “It is easier to justify large investments in industrial internet in environments where industrial internet is incorporated into production by transitioning directly to automated, advanced IIoT environments. The transition phase is less complicated when the existing infrastructure is light, because there are fewer things that must be accounted for in applying new solutions,” he explains.
A case in point is Romania, where the internet infrastructure is now top of the class in Europe. The Romanian infrastructure was created rather recently compared to more affluent European countries, and therefore, the entire web is more modern than that in Finland, for example.
Bottacci emphasizes that applications of Industrial IoT are already a reality. According to him, there are dozens of different use cases of IIoT in enterprises. “Companies are alreadydeveloping IoT applications that work, and they have started making a difference. For example, transportation and warehousing benefit fromautomated vehicles and asset tracking. In manufacturing, predictive maintenance [PdM] and asset performance management [APM] are key areas where industrial internet boosts value creation.”
Predictive maintenance keeps assets up and running, decreasing operational costs and saving companies millions of dollars. Data from IIoT-enabled systems – sensors, cameras, and data analytics enabled by powerful artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning (ML) algorithms – helps to better plan maintenance, allowing manufacturers to service equipment before problems occur. “Data streaming from sensors and devices can be used to quickly assess current conditions, recognize warning signs, deliver alerts and automatically trigger appropriate maintenance processes. IIoT coupled with AI or ML thus turns maintenance into a dynamic, rapid and automated task,” Bottacci explains.