The IIoT and How it Impacts SME Manufacturers
The Industrial Internet of Things, or the IIoT, is an interconnected network of physical objects and devices embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and connectivity enabling them to collect and exchange data. This data exchange allows SME manufacturers to digitise their plants and factories for better productivity and efficiency. This blog post will look at how IIoT can positively impact SME manufacturers.
How the IIoT Can Benefit SME Manufacturers
There are many ways in which IIoT can benefit SME manufacturers. Perhaps the unique method is digitisation. By digitising their plants and factories, SME manufacturers can increase productivity and efficiency by reducing downtime, improving quality control, and gaining access to real-time data analysis.
Another way in which IIoT can benefit SMEs is through the development of new business models. For example, the IIoT can enable manufacturers to move from a product-based business model to a servitisation business model. This shift can be beneficial as it allows manufacturers to focus on providing value-added services rather than simply selling products. It also allows manufacturers to generate revenue from sources other than product sales, such as subscription fees or pay-per-use models.
Lastly, the IIoT can help SME manufacturers to reduce costs. For example, organisations can free up resources that can be used elsewhere by automating repetitive tasks and processes. Additionally, predictive maintenance enabled by the IIoT can help organisations to avoid unscheduled downtime by identifying potential issues before they occur.
Typical Applications of IIoT on the shop floor
Reduce downtime by using predictive maintenance
Predictive maintenance is a type of maintenance that uses data collected by IIoT-connected devices to predict when a machine is likely to break down. This information can schedule maintenance before a breakdown occurs, which can help reduce downtime and improve production line efficiency.
Improve quality control with real-time data collection
The IIoT can collect real-time data about every step of the manufacturing process. This data can be analysed to identify issues with quality control and make necessary adjustments to improve the quality of products.
Increase flexibility with connected machines
Machines connected via the IIoT can share information and work together to complete tasks. This increase in flexibility can help manufacturers respond quickly to changes in customer demand.
Boost productivity with automated workflows
Manufacturers can deploy IoT to automate material handling and quality control checking tasks. This automation can free workers’ time to focus on more productive tasks.
Reduce costs with energy-efficient management
The IIoT can be used to monitor energy consumption in real-time and identify opportunities for cost savings. For example, if a machine is not being used, the IIoT can automatically turn it off to save energy.
Selection Criteria for IoT Vendors
Choosing the right vendor for your business can be challenging. Therefore, we’ll outline some critical criteria you should remember when selecting an IoT vendor for SME manufacturers.
- Make sure the vendor has experience in your domain industry.
- Look for a vendor that offers a complete solution, not just a platform or a sensor.
- Choose a vendor that has a robust partner ecosystem. ·
- Pay attention to the user experience when evaluating vendors.
- Look for vendors who have a good reputation in the industry, ask for references and talk to them to validate their claims
On top of the above, ensure their solutions satisfy the followings:
Scalability: One of the most important criteria to consider when choosing an IoT vendor is scalability. Can the vendor scale up or down as needed to meet the changing demands of your business? How easily can they add new devices and services? Always ask these questions upfront so you’re not caught off guard later.
Security: Another critical concern for manufacturers is security. With hackers becoming more sophisticated, partnering with an IoT vendor that takes security seriously is crucial. Find out what security measures they have to protect your data and ensure they’re up to date with the latest threats.
Interoperability: When considering different IoT vendors for your SME manufacturing business, there are a few things you can do to ensure that their platforms are interoperable with other IT systems; if an IoT vendor’s platform cannot interoperate with other IT systems such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), product lifecycle management (PLM), manufacturing execution systems (MES), and warehouse management systems (WMS) – the vendor will not be able to provide the total value of their solution to the SME manufacturer.
An IoT platform that cannot connect with other IT systems limits the usefulness of the data collected by the devices and machines. Furthermore, this data siloed within the platform hinders the manufacturer’s ability to optimise production processes and make real-time decisions based on current conditions.
Connectivity: One of the most important considerations when selecting an IoT vendor is connectivity. After all, what good is an IoT solution if it can’t connect to your existing systems? Ask vendors about their connectivity options and whether they offer connectors or APIs for your current systems.
Pricing: Of course, price is always a consideration when choosing any business solution. But with IoT, it’s important to understand all the costs associated with a particular vendor’s offering. Some IoT solutions are offered as subscription services, while others require a one-time fee. There may also be costs for installation, support, and upgrades. Consider the total cost of ownership, not just the initial purchase price.
Support: Last but not least, you’ll want to choose an IoT vendor that can provide adequate support for your needs. Things will inevitably go wrong from time to time, so it’s important to have a vendor who can help you troubleshoot and resolve issues quickly. Ask about their support offerings before you commit to anything to know what you’re getting into.
Choosing an IoT vendor is a big decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. However, by keeping these critical selection criteria in mind, you can be sure to find a vendor that’s a good fit for your SME manufacturing business.
The industrial Internet of Things has the potential to impact SME manufacturers in several ways positively. SMEs can increase their productivity and efficiency by digitising their plants and factories. Additionally, the IIoT can help organisations develop new business models and reduce costs. As such, it is clear that the IIoT will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of manufacturing.
There’s a lot to consider. However, considering factors such as industry experience, the total cost of ownership, and customer support, you can narrow down your options and choose the best provider for your specific needs.