How is your company doing and what are the reasons for success or failure? What should you do next? Do you know the answers to these questions? Are you sure? You should be able to answer swiftly, any time, and based on data.
Industrial companies collect huge amounts of information with missed potential, raw data. For instance, in manufacturing, sensors constantly collect data from hundreds or thousands of measurement points. Reports are being made and some actions are being documented manually. Partially data is already in use for decision support. However, a realistic, data-driven knowledge of the state of affairs is often behind tedious work, which requires combining data from different sources of an organization, data silos.
What kinds of information would help a company to prosper and be more productive? It is very likely that these information already exist, but they need to be highlighted from the vast amounts of raw data and put into use. For example, in the area of quality, real-time information helps to prevent quality defects and costs already before the product is shipped or even manufactured. This affects your bottom line.
From hype to concrete benefits
Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industrie 4.0 are comprised of elements that are not new: sensors, data transmission, data storage, and analytics. The core benefits of IIoT come from the complete package, through which data from different sources inside and outside a company is collected, processed, and analyzed in order to refine and utilize meaningful information.
Unplanned downtime and quality claims are just a couple of examples that could be prevented with essential information received in advance. Traditional tools are not capable of providing this information, whereas modern advanced analytics methods such as machine learning and deep neural networks can.
There is a lot of hype and confusion involved in discussion about Industrie 4.0, big data, and digitalization. From my viewpoint, they are all simply means to an end, which is making meaningful information easily accessible. It is all about getting more essential information than before in order to make better decisions and actions in the future.
Information drives and enhances business
Industrial companies need to be able to offer their customers added value competitively on time and on quality. Increasing efficiency has been a goal for a long time. Companies often have high level domain knowledge and long-lasting customer relations. These attributes will get them far, but with more meaningful information in hand, they will go even further.
More and more case examples are told and witnessed illustrating that IIoT is not just another fad, but a new approach to drive business. In the future, industrial companies will live and breathe IIoT and utilize all data comprehensively to be competitive and productive.
Start small, think big
The first step towards utilization of data and IIoT does not have to be an exhaustive and expensive project. Agile tests and tryouts can be more efficient in finding out directions, where to allocate resources, not to mention the speed benefits. It all comes down to figuring out the right questions: which challenges a company wants to solve and what kinds of information are needed for decision support.
When meaningful information is in the right hands at the right time, it is easier to perceive the big picture and be able to operate proactively. With IIoT you are back in the driver’s seat accompanied with a state of the art navigator.
Managing Director, Quva Oy
Ackerman is the chairman of the IoT session of the Northern Industry Congress in 26 May in Oulu, Finland.
This blog post was originally published in Finnish on Stop+Go blog on Feb. 12th in 2016.