As global manufacturers continue to seek out new competitive advantages, many are investing in technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and analytics.
Within the next 6 years, companies in the Asia-Pacific area alone will increase manufacturing budgets from $9 billion to $57.96 billion, according to a 2014 Frost & Sullivan report. A recent study by MarketsandMarkets found the IoT Analytics market worth $16.35 billion by 2020.
OpenText Manufacturing Industry Strategist, Mark Morley (@MarkMorley) spotted the global digital supply chain trend a while back. In a recent interview, he noted that CIOs are embracing IoT and analytics in their strategies to improve not only the availability of their materials but also the processes through which they build products and deliver them.
“For example, one European automotive parts supplier I know built what it calls a virtual supply chain,” Morley said. “As goods come off the production line, a number of the IoT-enabled devices are carried by IoT-connected forklifts out the IoT-connected warehouse gates and loaded onto IoT-connected trucks. The company essentially has an end-to-end visibility of their products.”
But knowing what types of information to gather and analyze requires proper tools.
Morley has identified at least four areas that manufacturers should consider when adding the one-two punch of IoT and analytics to their own digital supply chain.
Incoming Materials – Determining what is coming in a shipment and where that shipment is located helps manufacturers make better decisions. Morley says. Managers need to be able to dive down into individual suppliers whether they are in China or Europe.
Shop Floor – Manufacturers want to know how machines are performing on the shop floor, specifically with regards to maintenance. When you have an assembly line full of robots, it can be devastating when you have to take one offline or if it stops all by itself. Being able to analyze and predict when issues may occur is very valuable.
Distribution – What good is a product if you can’t put it in the hands of the customer? Being able to monitor the performance of distributors such as DHL or FedEx and making sure a product arrives on time are important for all manufacturers.
Aftermarket – Once a product has shipped, IoT and analytics are keys to making sure the product is maintained and has maximum uptime, notes Morley. Whether it’s a generator or airplane engine, having granular insight into a product’s performance improves customer satisfaction.
Here’s the entire conversation I had with Morley about how IoT and analytics shape the future of manufacturing.