How should a company begin implementing the industrial internet in their business? What are the methods by which companies can ensure that they are on the cutting edge of the on-going revolution? The answers vary depending on the company in question, but the main thing in the increasingly demanding and competitive industry sectors, is to have an open mind and a willingness to try new things. You can find concrete examples of how it works for both the clients and the companies in the automotive industry, as well as the steel industry, says Oscar Lindqvist, Senior Advisor at SAS Institute.
In the recent years the customers in various industries have become more demanding due to increased competition and the troublesome market situation, and this brings new challenges on how companies can answer these demands.
“Companies can differentiate themselves from their competitors and establish a clear competitive edge by being the first in implementing new solutions to these new challenges”, Lindqvist says.
That could be monitoring your whole manufacturing process to ensure that everything that can be done to make the process more effective is taken into account. It could also include making the maintenance of a fleet of trucks more intuitive and predictive. There is a large array of ways you can add value to your business.
A holistic approach to quality control
In the steel industry, it is of utmost importance, that the final delivered materials meet the quality demands of the clients. If the quality doesn’t fulfill these demands, an extensive process begins.
“There’s the factor that steel doesn’t have a best before date, so some time might have passed from the date of the actual manufacturing to the moment, when the company begins to analyze the reason for the faulty batch”, Lindqvist says.
“This process of finding the root cause can take months and in the meanwhile put a serious dent in the output of the plant and affect the whole supply chain, as well as other clients, who now have to wait an additional period of time to receive their orders. This takes its toll on the value received by both the customers and the manufacturer in question.”
The Industrial Internet applications offer a solution to this by making it possible to monitor the whole manufacturing process, and gather information about it.
“You can for instance see what the temperatures were in different parts of the process, who was working on the batch that was manufactured and where the raw material came from.”
By analyzing this collected data, you start to notice connections relating to different circumstances in the process and begin to see why certain results surface, and make adjustments accordingly.
Better service through collected data
Another good example of applying the ideas of the Industrial Internet to gain a competitive edge comes from the field of automotive industry. A North European truck manufacturer has begun collecting data from routine truck maintenance in thousands of service points globally, and sending it all for processing and analyzing in their headquarters. By doing this the company can determine the remaining life cycles of certain components in the trucks and determine how long they last – or should last.
From there the processed information continues on to product development, where it can be used to make the manufactured trucks better. The information is sent back to the service points to improve the maintenance. With this data, the manufacturer can offer services and maintenance that add extra value for the clients.
“The service points can offer a campaign on brakes that relies on the expected life cycles of the part and offer the clients deals in the service points”, Lindqvist says.
The business benefits grow according to how largely they utilize these possibilities. The small streams form a large current when you’re talking about the uptime of an entire fleet of trucks. For large companies the yearly savings can be counted in millions.
Think outside the box
Both the examples mentioned earlier apply a somewhat unconventional way of approaching the businesses in question, at least from a traditional point-of-view. This might mean for example taking advantage of the large amount of information crunching start-ups.
“Start-ups are agile and have new thoughts on running businesses, so they can come up with innovative solutions fast”, Lindqvist says.
In other cases businesses can set up events to allow for a different view of thinking about the business. Recently, hackathons have become a prominent option for developing new solutions for the needs of companies. Having these kinds of events and having smaller companies participate in the development of new approaches to the business makes the whole process more agile. It also makes it possible to come up with completely new solutions to optimizing the work flow of the production plant.
“The challenge in having these kinds of approaches comes from the fact that often the added value doesn’t show immediately, instead it requires a mindset akin to scientific research from the companies willing to develop new solutions. For companies such as Google and Amazon this is easier, as their core business isn’t as clearly defined as in traditional industries. For industrial businesses it’s more important that the approaches they develop remain close to the core business.”
Originally posted on industrialinternet.com
Get more insights on the topics by reading the e-book Internet of Things: Visualise the Impact.