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Data processing becomes decentralized through blockchain

Blockchain comes with the promise of decentralizing information processing. It allows for a digital record of information packets coursing through the internet, and forms a record of digital events. What does this mean for businesses? Daniel Riedel, CEO of New Context offers an overview on the subject in this recent Readwrite article.

According to Riedel, “in an environment that requires continuous modification of data but also sensitivity to conditions required for uninhibited informational trade, blockchain is our best path toward a new industrial revolution”.

Read more about what blockchain is, and how it will affect business at http://readwrite.com/2016/05/09/blockhain-new-ir/

Image credit: Ekaphon maneechot / Shutterstock.com

Via Readwrite

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SMEs in the ecosystem of Industrial Internet

Despite large enterprises being at the forefront of the development of Industrial Internet, small and medium-size enterprises play an important role in contributing to the growth of its ecosystem. According to Karan Menon, Researcher, Industrial Internet at Tampere University of Technology, each player, whether big or small, brings something unique to the game, and also needs the other players in order to survive.

“Smaller companies have the benefit of having very detailed expertise and specific kind of knowledge. Furthermore, SMEs are more agile, have less bureaucracy, and can easily partner up with other companies to achieve their goals. Large manufacturers, on the other hand, tend to have more financial resources and overall technological capabilities,” he says.

In addition, bigger players on the field have the advantage of having access to more data. Thus, using intelligent technologies, they are able to collect much more information from their own sources in comparison to their smaller competitors.

For SMEs, being up against larger companies in the market also means having to be careful before embracing the digital connectivity and open innovation networks. Menon continues: “When contributing to an open value network there is unfortunately the risk of getting eaten by the bigger fish. Having to deal with intellectual property rights of solutions and products that were developed in common, for instance, can lead to smaller players being disadvantaged. In some cases, cooperation may result in the acquisition of the small business by a larger company, which means that the first one of the two disappears.”

The necessity of mutual platforms

Despite having addressed the risks, Menon strongly supports the basic idea of an open platform in which all operators can join and work together in order to create innovations.

“When you think of modern B2C services such as Uber and Airbnb, you see that it’s not about products, but platforms. B2B and the industrial internet is no exception. Instead of people it’s just about data. If you want to build an entire functioning ecosystem, creating a platform is the only way, because you need to provide means for the whole supply chain to communicate and interact,” Menon states.


“When you think of modern B2C services such as Uber and Airbnb, you see that it’s not about products, but platforms. B2B and the Industrial Internet is no exception. Instead of people it’s just about data.”

To put it simply, platforms are the base on which technologies can be built. And the more builders the better. “No organization exists in isolation. Providing real value to stakeholders requires combining different data and diverse sources of information. Handling large entities is where open platforms come in most handy,” Menon summarizes.

The future of pay-per-use business model in manufacturing

The superiority of platforms over products is closely linked to another key development in the field of intelligent technologies: the shift towards pay-per-use business models. Large equipment manufacturers, for example, have adopted this trend and succeeded in transforming their business models accordingly. Instead of selling the actual machines to their customers, they provide them with usability and reliability.

“When you think of material handling, for example, the term itself actually reveals the driver behind the business. It’s not really about lifting gear per se, but what it does and how it benefits the customer. The same goes for aircraft engines. Utilizing smart technologies enables equipment manufacturers to become service providers,” Menon says.

To be able to deliver the expected value to customers – and preferably exceed them – companies need to be on top of everything that may affect the performance of their products and solutions. Thus, having multiple players collaborating on an open platform is immeasurably valuable.

“Selling the outcome that a certain device or a machine has been designed to deliver is in way a lot riskier than selling just the machine. Especially if the final price that the customer pays is being determined based on the quality and performance of the deliverable. In this sense, it’s very logical that business operators welcome all the input they can get,” Menon concludes.

Karan Menon works as Researcher, Industrial Internet at Tampere University of Technology

Karan Menon on Twitter: @menonkaran 

Image credit: Alex_Po / Shutterstock.com

Interview w/ Karan Menon

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Digital disruption offers benefits for paper and package industries

Today, digital disruption is the main driver for transformation in all industries. According to Brian Dickinson, industry expert at SAP, it is a time of opportunity for the paper and packaging industry.

“While technology has made for tighter profit margins and shifting demands, there is vast potential. With better information and smarter tools, modern companies can find new ways of modeling and doing business”, Dickinson writes for Digitalist.

Dickinson gives insight on how digitalization will affect the paper and packaging industry, and how companies can enhance their business by understanding it. Read more at http://www.digitalistmag.com/customer-experience/2016/04/25/digital-to-drive-innovation-retains-customers-in-paper-and-packaging-04147604

Image credit: hxdyl / Shutterstock.com

Via Digitalist

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Smooth manufacturing is built on reliability and the speed of troubleshooting

Troubleshooting has never been faster. While performing maintenance used to rest wholly on the shoulders of the local operator and the maintenance staff, the speed at which malfunctions can be addressed has increased at a fast pace in the past 10 years. According to Hannu Piispanen, Industry Specialist, Pulp and Paper at Konecranes, the increases in connectivity have made it easier to apply a fix remotely. The result is that the time it takes to solve a problem drops from days to hours.

The accuracy of diagnostic tools has improved. We have gone from knowing which part of the facility is affected by a problem to being able to pinpoint the exact location of the faulty component. What remote access brings, is the possibility to have instant access to the best specialists, who can skim through the latest log files and start fixing the problem as soon as possible. This decreases downtime drastically.

There’s a reason for the increased demand for reliability. As processes get more intricate and productivity levels increase, each part of the process needs to run more precisely to achieve the expected growth. It isn’t enough that the machinery works 95% or even 98% of the time.  The uptime of the machinery must be as optimized as possible or the whole process suffers.

Speed of troubleshooting allows for flexible production

Automated warehouses took their first steps some decades ago. Back then, there wasn’t the possibility to build the whole warehouse around one crane, due to the chance of the crane’s malfunction and the concurrent halt. Instead the warehouses were built with redundant systems in case of failure. These involved having an auxiliary crane system in place to ensure that the production didn’t stall even if the primary system wasn’t functional.

With the improved reliability, even before the advent of the industrial internet, more and more plants have switched to a single crane. If that crane comes to a halt, the whole production process stops and the continuation of operations is then determined by the size of the buffer.

Nowadays there are also plants which combine these two aforementioned approaches. The level of production is achieved by utilizing two cranes, but in an emergency it is possible to continue operations with just one. As an example, in an operation where pulp units are loaded on a train, the scheduled time for the trains turnaround could be three hours, with two reserved for loading. If the other crane halts and just one is operational, the whole process can still be managed in four hours.


“As processes get more intricate and productivity levels increase, each part of the process needs to run more precisely to achieve the expected growth.”

One of the key benefits of being able to control a crane remotely comes in the form of accuracy. The positioning of goods has come to require such accuracy that the visibility from the cab might not be enough. Instead, having a remote access with a video connection to the crane gives the operator a much more sophisticated view of the task at hand. The user also doesn’t have to reside physically in or near the crane, but can instead control it from the adjacent building, or even 50 miles down the road.

A view of the big picture complements manufacturing

A large part of working in these digitalized plants requires a certain understanding of the bigger processes that underlay the whole manufacturing process. Operators or troubleshooting specialists do not have to know how to code, even in this digital environment.

Instead it’s necessary for them to have an understanding of the big picture and to be able to operate within it. For everyone involved in the manufacturing process, a diverse portfolio of skills is required, instead of just being proficient in the new digital or the old manual ones. Digital skills act as an add-on to the knowledge of the surrounding industrial setting.

Now with the increased interconnectivity between machines and the fact that various systems monitor each other, the demand for reliability rises. At the same time when the susceptibility for failures increases due to the amount of components, the reliability and ease of use of machinery becomes a primary concern.

Still, even though the operational environment becomes more digitized, it is important to remember that no system is failure proof. Consequently the staff should be able to handle themselves around the equipment manually. They should be capable of accessing and analyzing the provided data. They should also know how to diagnose the problems and, if necessary, operate the machinery manually.

Remote access for machinery offers a variety of possibilities for companies, but there still lies a myriad of points that need to be taken into consideration for it to be wholly utilized in the industrial processes. When the workers attain a holistic view of the whole production process and the hurdles concerning troubleshooting have been solved, we will see definite improvement in the performance of facilities.

Hannu Piispanen works as Industry Specialist, Pulp & Paper Industries at Konecranes

Image credit: maradon 333 / Shutterstock.com

By Hannu Piispanen

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European countries aim to smart up their manufacturing

After the economic crisis of 2008, the EU started preparing programs to boost manufacturing, as it contributes over-proportionally to exports. Combined with the fact that innovation plays an essential part in the growth of manufacturing, European countries have been eager to develop the Industrial Internet. The countries’ own programs differ, so that they are in line with specific national needs and can support their manufacturing in a targeted way. One of the aims in these initiatives is also reducing manufacturing’s environmental footprint.

At their best, advanced manufacturing technologies, applications and approaches can free plant personnel at all levels from repetitive tasks and provide appropriate tools, Valentijn de Leeuw writes for Automation World.

Read more about the possibilities of smart manufacturing at http://www.automationworld.com/industrial-internet-things/next-gen-technologies-pave-way-future-manufacturing

Image credit: nostal6ie / Shutterstock.com

Via Automation World

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