Equip, utilize, make it actionable – steps to realizing the Industrial Internet
Data doesn’t lie, according to Harvey Shovers, the President of MSI Data. In baseball, for instance, it’s a commonly known fact that all of the teams today analyze huge amounts of data that is produced on the field. In 2013, the Pittsburgh Pirates managed to break their 20 year losing spree by applying sophisticated data analytics to the baseball field. The same idea can be applied to different manufacturing industries like the steel industry.
“With the steel industry being one of the oldest industries out there, you can imagine it is very traditional when it comes to managing. These kinds of industries have been pretty reserved of the idea of managing by data. But the steel industry, just like everybody else, is going to benefit from the capture and analysis of that data”, Shovers says.
If you take the right mix of experience and reliance on the data that you have never been able to act on before, the steel industry, like any industry, is able to make better decisions that can more quickly affect the manufacturing process.
As an example, for service technicians, having the right data means that they can update their old methods of doing maintenance.
“It isn’t beneficial for the service technician, or the customer, to come on site and not be able to identify the problem, and then have to come back again and again. It’s expensive and it doesn’t drive good relationships with the customer. Now, with the proper data, the technician can come and fix the problem before it occurs and come equipped if a problem does occur. With access to machine data, the technician knows exactly what the problem is and how to fix it. This way the first-time fix rates go up and the service technician gets his job done faster, better and more professionally. This improves the relationship with the customers. It’s a win-win-situation,” Shovers says.
Getting everyone on board is key
Speaking on the hot topics in Industrial Internet, Shovers mentions that there’s a difference in the emphasis between the consumer side of the IoT and the Industrial Internet. When thinking about the Internet of Things, people tend to associate it with consumer-type applications.
“For most people, they like to think of things you can do with your smartphone. The Internet of Things makes day-to-day activities for people easier. We now have apps to control the lights in our apartment, to record TV-shows and to change the thermostat. On the industrial side it’s more about collecting big data.”
According to Shovers, the companies on the leading edge are the ones who are already capturing data and are starting to utilize it. The main problems companies face in getting to this point is getting the whole company on board and having a clear vision as to why other companies are already collecting data and most importantly being able to see what the payback is.
Three steps to an Industrial Internet
For Shovers, the implementation of the Industrial Internet takes place in three distinct phases. The first one is making everything internet-enabled. For example, in the auto industry, most cars that ship today are equipped with some kind of data-collection and telematics devices.
“Not all of the data that can be collected from devices is actually used today, but everyone is putting hardware and software into their products,” Shovers says.
The second phase is capturing the big data, and then being able to utilize it.
“That data helps companies drive their business decisions, or manufacturing and design decisions faster.”
The third phase is making that data actionable. The end result might be, for example, that we have a car that drives itself, compared to cars now that can already change lanes for you automatically, or notify you if something negative is about to occur.
What kind of advice would Shovers then give for company CIOs in charge of implementing any of these three phases?
“The point would be to get started now; don’t wait. The technology is already here, and if you wait two or three years for the perfect solution to become available, you’re going to be behind everybody else”
“I’m a big proponent of taking steps to get things started now, because you can talk about these things forever, just like anything else,” Shovers says.
According to Shovers, an ideal scenario for a company would be to come up with a multi-year plan of where the company aims to get to and of the results they aim to achieve with the implementation of the Industrial Internet.
On the way there they should be able to report back to their stakeholders every step along the way, within or outside the organization, of the progress they’re making towards achieving these long-term goals.
“The point would be to get started now; don’t wait. The technology is already here, and if you wait two or three years for the perfect solution to become available, you’re going to be behind everybody else”, Shovers says.
Finally, coming back to baseball, only 20% of the data-collecting teams make their decisions based on it. The ones using data to guide decisions also happen to be the ones leading the surge and becoming the winners in their sport.
Harvey Shovers is the President of MSI Data, a Wisconsin based company that is the leader in field workforce automation software.
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