Digital transformation is boosting bottom lines across manufacturing, thanks to Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.
In fact, roughly two-thirds of manufacturers have already increased profitability by applying the IoT to their plants and processes. Companies report similar success increasing profitability by embedding IoT capabilities into their products.
Here’s how these Digitization/IoT Leaders do it:
- Make data visible: The IoT can bring new visibility to insights throughout the enterprise. Unfortunately, many organizations face obstacles that limit the flow of information (e.g., lack of embedded intelligence, antiquated network infrastructure). Eliminating these bottlenecks makes data actionable; use of cloud-based storage can extend that visibility across the value chain.
- Make demand-based decisions: Most manufacturers are challenged by variable customer demand, addressing order surges with hastily added resources and inventory which often go underutilized — or unused. Digitization coordinates real-time demand data among value-chain partners to synchronize production planning with peaks and troughs in demand and optimize costs and capacity.
- Create customizable manufacturing and operations: Customized products are now a competitive requirement in many industries. It’s critical to integrate the value chain via real-time information from operations (e.g., inventory requirements) and the enterprise (e.g., customer expectations) to enable unique product configurations — and, thus, reducing the lead times and rework rates of legacy high-volume production runs.
- Improve customer value and service: A Connected Enterprise drives customer satisfaction by improving production speed, responsiveness, predictability, and quality. At Rockwell Automation, we’ve seen manufacturers reduce both lead times and defects by as much as 50% via digitalization. Even more significant are the new opportunities available via IoT connections to products in customer plants, offices, or homes — as add-on services (e.g., software updates, repair alerts, user guidance) that delight customers and boost the bottom line.
- Focus on maintenance, safety, and training: Creating virtual views of operations with real-time information (i.e., digital twins) can educate and prepare employees for a new or revised plant-floor environment and improve predictive maintenance capabilities, allowing prevention of machine breakdowns or workplace injuries, instead of after-the-fact reactions. For example, machine-to-operator interaction can be monitored to provide alerts when an operator logs onto a machine or system — triggering refresher training or denying access to untrained or unauthorized operators. Similarly, maintenance staff can remotely monitor equipment — temperature, vibration, energy draw, yields, etc. — to identify characteristics that indicate potential. In fact, almost half of manufacturers already plan to improve maintenance and uptimes via smart devices and/or embedded intelligence.
- Drive new revenue streams: Digital transformation broadens the capabilities of an organization, opening up possibilities for new strategies and business models, enabling Connected Enterprises to tap and grow new service and support revenues.