The Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT), which is in its infancy today, will have a profound impact on operations in every industry from aerospace to automotive, from chemicals to construction, from manufacturing to mining and beyond.
Companies that recognize and act wisely on the potential of IIOT will reap the advantages of improved performance, enhanced customer satisfaction and greater profitability. Those that do not, will almost surely fall behind.
Among the specific benefits that IIOT systems can provide are:
- Asset management, operational visibility and robust safety and security including monitoring of environmental changes
- Process and machine monitoring and control
- Predictive maintenance to give early warning of process and equipment malfunctions
- Off-site device control
- Data monitoring and compilation
- Supply chain efficiency
- Smart ordering and payment
- Nitty-gritty cost benefits such as continuous hot water on demand and intelligent lighting
Large, successful companies have the advantages of well-qualified teams and adequate financial resources. In addition, existing providers of IIOT products and services are better equipped to meet the needs of sizable companies.
On the other hand, small to mid-sized companies face daunting challenges; e.g., constantly evolving technology and standards, lack of in-house expertise and an ever-expanding universe of vendors that offer an ever-increasing variety of solutions. Exciting as new offerings can be, the people and process modifications required to bring plans to fruition present yet another hurdle.
Critical success factors
The success of IIOT installations depends on factors such as conducting a realistic up-front analysis of the costs and benefits, evaluating whether execution plans are achievable and ensuring interoperability among both systems and communication vendors while safeguarding the security of equipment, data and personnel.
Because interoperability and reliability are critical and because there are so many disparate pieces from so many disparate suppliers, selecting the right systems integrator may be the single most important decision a business makes. Checking references of such vendors to determine both the personnel and processes they employed and the results they achieved is absolutely essential.
Steps to take now
Because IIOT is always evolving, reading multiple publications and attending some of the ever-available webinars can be invaluable. In-person events, particularly trade shows and conferences, provide not only valuable information but also a broader perspective. Attendance can create an understanding of the broader ecosystem.
Meanwhile, customer and vendor consultations can supply information about what would make those relationships more profitable as well as market intelligence about paths that other entities are pursuing.
Are there areas in which your company might benefit from an IIOT deployment? Is there an IIOT solution that would truly differentiate your enterprise from its competitors?
If so, consider carefully whether your company will truly be better off in terms of customer satisfaction, revenues and expenses as a result of implementation and whether it has the capacity to navigate successfully the required changes. In brief, will the benefits truly outweigh the costs?
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