4 Dimensions of Digital Transformation with the Industrial Internet of Things
Manufacturing traditionally is an industry that embraces new technologies, so it is no surprise that digital transformation has come to factory floors. However, in the rush to digital and to adopt the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), companies tend to be more focused on how many new digital tools to bring on board rather than what tools are best suited to overall business goals.
For enterprises seeking to make a digital transformation with IIoT, it is important to have a calibrated path towards achieving business initiatives. This calibration allows leadership and IT decision makers to set the right expectations on ROI, organizational buy-ins and timelines. The roadmap for the digital transformation journey begins with creating a digital footprint for enhanced visibility and integrations.
Analyzing this digital footprint for efficiencies helps yield significant improvements on Key Performance Indicators (KPI). This in turn allows for a deeper understanding of what can be changed to enhance effectiveness. This will lay the foundation for launching game-changing initiatives that will impact the entire industry.
Creating a digital footprint is the first of four dimensions of digital transformation, the others include efficiency, effectiveness, and transformation. The extent of impact is proportional to the scale and depth of deployment. So it is just as possible for a single plant to be transformed by focusing on efficiencies in every process, as it is, to tackle effectiveness of a single process across multiple plants.
The four dimensions as discussed below provide a path for truly embracing smart manufacturing and yielding great gains.
Creating the Digital Footprint
Your digital footprint represents your digital behavior – email use, website searches, integration of IIoT. It provides a good portrait of who you are and what you do. Your digital footprint also generates a lot of data, which is why creating a manufacturing data lake is necessary for storing that data and getting the most efficient use from the information you collect. Hadoop is the most popular platform for data lakes, but that depends on your data, including volume and scalability.
You can determine the role of your data lake, but it should allow for your data to work together. Machine data is more available in a lake than in a silo, and most importantly, it will eliminate data silos that cause debilitating latencies, such as:
- Event insight latency: Important events don’t reach staff, supervisors within a window where recourses are actionable
- Data aggregation latency: A holistic picture cannot be developed as partial data is available from a subset of machines and systems
- Decision latency: Management is waiting on critical events to percolate upstream that helps them plan better
- Action latency: Manual processes that stall on the lack of automated accurate machine data
Overall, a data lake provides a better opportunity to truly understand how your data works – or doesn’t work. The best apps for getting the most out of this data will evolve over time, and this will provide direction on your digital transformation process.
Efficiency: Doing Things Right
The immediate advantage of creating a digital footprint is the ability to analyze machine data for actionable insights. This improves operational efficiencies in productivity, quality, maintenance and energy utilization.
Because data is no longer siloed, improving its latencies, and because you have a better understanding of your data, you should see an impact on business operations throughout the entire plant. As a Forbes article pointed out, “The true value of [I]IoT is realized when machine data is correlated for various KPIs, such as productivity, quality, maintenance and traceability. When a wide variety of samples of implemented with the IoT becomes available, an interesting pattern starts to emerge, revealing both unseen issues and untapped opportunities.”
Not only by introducing IIoT, but also having the resources to understand how to best utilize IIoT, is improving efficiencies across manufacturing. Productivity is rising overall, and the digital transformation is making it possible to look at singular processes across multiple plants.
Effectiveness: Doing the Right Things
Understanding your data and building on that knowledge to improve on KPI will improve your efficiency, but let’s take it a step further. The digital transformation done right will make your manufacturing process more effective.
The deeper analytics possibilities from machine data will drive the next phase of the smart factory. The ability to predict when a machine needs maintenance and the ability to correlate production conditions with quality outcomes are key enablers for enhancing effectiveness.
As smart factories evolve so too will job functions and job opportunities. Industrial engineers will need to be more IT savvy – information warriors who know how to use big data to empower decision making. With data analytics and a greater holistic picture generated by machine data, the industrial engineer can better prioritize their actions more effectively and shift workloads to where they are most needed.
Transformation: Shaping the New Frontier
In manufacturing, the digital transformation relies heavily on the adoption of IIoT. Done smartly, this adoption allows factories the opportunity to reimagine their business models and how they can grow in more productive ways.
The ability through IIoT to measure, benchmark and predict outcomes using machine data is – and will continue to be – transformational for manufacturing. This data can be used to drive best practices across the factory floor, across multiple plants, and across industries that rely on each other. For example, a chemical engineer can now deep dive into a functional process and see that mean duplicated in every plant throughout the enterprise. The ability to create digital twins advances the overall manufacturing process and this sharing of knowledge then positively impacts the entire supply chain.
The true gift of IIoT is a digital enterprise that can better innovate to service customer needs. But to get the most out of IIoT and the vast data it generates requires a deliberate digital transformation, one that creates a business-first approach in embracing smart manufacturing.
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