Best-in-class manufacturers usher in the fourth Industrial Revolution

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The introduction of Internet of Things (IoT) into the manufacturing world has ushered in the fourth industrial revolution, also known as Industry 4.0. Not surprisingly, this era will be unlike any that has come before it. It will introduce systems and machines that can communicate with each other, and use artificial intelligence (AI) and cognitive processing to re-shape the future of manufacturing as we know it.

Cyber-physical systems and their role in the IoT

Businesses are establishing global networks that connect their machines, warehousing systems and facilities into cyber-physical systems (CPS). A CPS allows these individual assets and systems to exchange data, recommend actions and control each other independently. This connectivity allows for immediate insights to improve processes across all aspects of manufacturing. Figure 1 showcases how cyber-physical systems enables new capabilities in Industry 4.0, such as condition monitoring, health monitoring, remote diagnosis of issues, and tracking capabilities.

Cyber-physical system

Figure 1. Cyber-physical systems as an enabler for IoT. Source:

IoT will be the basis for this cyber-physical systems revolution. Advances in IoT and related technologies make it possible to deploy CPS, monitor activity, and manage data between the physical locations and networks it talks to.

How best-in-class manufacturers are using IoT

Best-in-class manufacturers are already embracing Industry 4.0 and are using a new approach to production by introducing IoT sensors. Those considered “best-in-class” are moving to the IoT twice as fast as all others.

A new Aberdeen report entitled IoT and analytics: better manufacturing decisions in the era of Industry 4.0 explores just how these best-in-class manufacturers are innovating.  By analyzing data generated by  IoT sensors, it is easier to make smart decisions about everything from equipment to operations. From there, they can make recommendations to reduce downtime, improve quality and create factory simulations.

Top manufacturers embrace IoT

The traits that make companies best-in-class in IoT are:

1.Connected and secure assets: The volume of data is always growing but it’s what organizations do with that data that really matters. Best-in-class manufacturers are improving their product quality and efficiency by bringing the right data onto a secure platform where it can be analyzed.  By connecting IoT data with analytics, they are able to assess the product quality, target problem areas, and identify any key issues. Organizations have been able to achieve a 7% increase in quality by implementing these practices.

2. Visualization of patterns: Data collection is now done via a variety of physical sensors on objects throughout the factory. Manufacturers use  the dashboard to visualize this data and see patterns. Best-in-class manufacturers are 74% more likely to view asset status via real-time dashboards. These dashboards make it easy to quickly identify problems and then make recommendations to resolve them. It can provide visibility into performance of operations, quality of compliance data, and status of processes. See Figure 2.

Best-in-class manufacturers embrace IoT capabilities

Figure 2. Capabilities that best-in-class manufacturers are embracing. Source: Aberdeen report, 2017


3. Analysis and prediction: As we’ve stressed already, data is of little value without analysis but the analysis also needs to be useful. It needs to provide valuable insights and thus enable better decision-making. The new frontier in asset maintenance is prescriptive which means analysis focuses on recommendations. It “prescribes” possible solutions based on what it knows. It offers recommendation to improve maintenance strategies and optimize schedules.

Top manufacturers share their experience with IoT

Manufacturers are using analytics, cognitive and enterprise asset management (EAM) to keep operations running at optimal efficiency. Listen to what a few best-in-class manufacturers are saying about their experiences:

To learn more about what IoT can do for your manufacturing goals, visit IoT for Manufacturing.

Product Marketing Manager, Watson IoT

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