Manufacturing Savvy

How Will the Internet of Things Help Manufacturing?

At Cisco’s Internet of Things World Forum, currently being held in Barcelona, Keith Nosbusch, CEO of Rockwell Automation, spoke about the impact  the Internet of Things is already having in the manufacturing arena. 

Within the next two years, over half of the manufacturing community will have migrated some of their infrastructure to the Cloud, according to Nosbusch. This tipping point, or as Nosbusch calls it, an inflection point, where technology is changing how manufacturing is being done, is being driven by the convergence of integrated control and information technologies. That in turn is being propelled forward with the Internet of Things. Nosbusch refers to this development as the Connected Enterprise.

What’s the benefit to manufacturers? Most importantly it will put customer demand, production and supplier data in context at a rate that is faster and more accessible. This in turn will lead to lower costs, increased efficiency and faster response times. 

All of those attributes will be necessary as the pressure mounts on manufacturing to deliver goods to a global population of 8 billion, with 70 million people moving into the middle class and spending $8 trillion annually.

The increased stress on resources can be managed through the “convergence of control and information” explains Nosbusch. Rockwell is one of the leaders in providing industrial power, control and information solutions.   

While manufacturers have been generating Big Data for many years, it’s their ability to effectively use the data for analysis and real time problem solving that is important.

One company that is finding success putting all of the pieces together in a meaningful way is Toyota. Its Kentucky facility, using Rockwell’s software, has improved its troubleshooting capabilities. Real time error corrections are possible which has minimized rework and scrap.  And at the company’s Alabama facility these improvements have resulted in an annual cost saving of $550,000.

Nosbusch is very optimistic that these results will be repeated across many manufacturing sectors as these technologies are adapted. “The Internet of Things is a real game changer when it comes to driving this vision into reality, “ Nosbusch said. "It’s happening today, but we are just scratching the surface of what is possible.”

Discuss this Blog Entry 1

on Oct 31, 2013

Great article Adrienne! I also wanted to make your readers aware of a joint survey and whitepaper between IW and SAS entitled "Capitalizing On Sensor Data Opportunities", which affirms your points above regarding the importance of the Internet Of Things to manufacturers. There is both tremendous opportunity and significant risk here for manufacturers. The opportunity goes well beyond integrated control and more rapid information about demand, production and supply however. Manufacturers have an opportunity to get closer to their customers than ever before. Ironically, new technology is allowing producers and sellers of products to conduct business in a way very similar to the good old days (face-to-face and with a handshake). Connected devices, the data they generate, and analytical processing of that data can lead to valuable insights that can significantly transform a business. A deeper understanding how your customers use your products on a day-to-day basis is possible¬, and can allow manufacturers to make relevant changes to their products, within the product lifecycle, that will delight their customers and bolster retention. At a minimum they can drive that information back into their product development initiatives to ensure that future products better meet their customer’s needs. Manufacturers have an opportunity gain a better understanding of how their products perform in the field, and get out ahead of potential problems before negatively impacting customer experience and driving significant warranty costs. How about remote predictive maintenance and optimization, “over-the-top” or “add on” service excellence, sustainability, cross-sell and up-sell opportunities…..the list goes on. And let’s not forget the opportunity that manufacturers have to conduct business in formerly unreachable areas. The masses of consumers in less developed areas of the world, often referred to as the “rising billion”, will soon be connected and can be reached by manufacturers of many products and services. The greatest risk…..missing the boat! Manufacturers that do not embrace connected devices, the Internet of Things, the vast amounts of data generated, and the large amount of value that can be driven by leveraging that data through analytics, will soon become irrelevant!

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