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New professions develop with new business opportunities

The role of the worker in an industrial environment is changing at a rapid pace. There is a large array of new requirements and skillsets that the modern industrial workforce has to adopt to, in order be able to orient themselves in the digital environment of the future, says Martti Mäntylä, Professor of Information Technology at Aalto University.

Many tasks are becoming more oriented towards information work. The changing role of the industrial worker can be compared to that of a prosumer – a consumer that both creates and consumes media content. For the client companies, the information the worker provides can offer valuable insight in how to develop their business. At the same time the worker requires more information to be able to conduct the increasingly digitized tasks.

The education offered by schools must move towards a T-shaped profile, meaning that on top of the specialization one might have, there’s also the need to have a general knowledge of the whole process one might be involved in. This same development can be seen in all branches of education concerning the Industrial Internet.

“We do not have a one-size-fits-all solution for how the education regarding the industry of tomorrow will look like, but as the Industrial Internet is largely an intersectional phenomenon, it is of importance for the students of industrial processes to have a good overview of how the whole process will be affected”, Mäntylä says.

A rise of new professions

According to Mäntylä, digitalization might breed new professions, for example in the field of data quality and collection. One of the new tasks might involve adding value by analyzing the collected data.

“Whatever the task is, there is an added element of creating data and creating additional value through information work”, Mäntylä says.

A large part of the value creation comes in the form of documentation. This practice brings the data to the use of other related systems, and improves the quality of the manufacturing process.

Several companies have appointed a person to be in charge of the digital transformation of their operations. The position, being relatively new, includes a wide variety of different responsibilities and tasks. According to Mäntylä, appointing these digital or data officers is a way that companies aim to find a direction and lead the ongoing change.


“The changing role of the industrial worker can be compared to that of a prosumer – a consumer that both creates and consumes media content.”

“They also aim to empower and network agents on different levels of organizations, and systematically create the needed stimuli for developing the Industrial Internet”.

There is still a notable amount of work to be done, especially in researching the possibilities of the Industrial Internet, and closing the gap between hypothetical possibilities and the concrete targets that companies wish to reach. At the moment one of the more common ways of proceeding for companies is collecting and comparing different cases to figure out in which direction the field is developing.

The added value comes from information

For B2B companies, one of the significant changes has been in the way they’ve had to view their businesses, and shift the focus from products to services. For example, a client might not actually want to purchase a complete welding system, but instead the “product” they wish to have is a guarantee of good welding seams. The added value for the company now offering this service is generated from gathering more data, which is then used to further assist the client in, for example, certifying their welding seams. It may also come from improving quality control, traceability or anything else based on the needs of the client.

“There needs to be a change of perspective, from a B2B approach to thinking about the client of the client. This change is visible in the processes, which utilize a more co-development based approach”.

Another new way to improve processes comes in the form of hackathons. They are an excellent way for an organization to discover what sort of new possibilities digitalization enables for its business. Some of the ideas that come up in hackathons might not fit the current agenda of the companies organizing them, but it is a great way to see the variety of possibilities offered.

“On top of the solutions developed during these events, hackathons offer insight on the type of valuable complementary knowledge there is to be found from outside of the organization. Still, for many companies, there is a threshold in taking extra-organizational personnel on board in developing the companies’ digital toolkits”, Mäntylä says.

One thing that the hackathons aim at, is utilizing information in new ways. This is also what will happen to the roles of many industrial workers. For them, the new solutions regarding IT, maintenance and services will surely have a noticeable impact on how they perform their tasks in the future. That is why schools must adapt a broader view of what it means to work in an industrial environment in the future.

Martti Mäntylä works as Professor of Information Technology at Aalto University

Image credit: everything possible / Shutterstock.com

Interview w/ Martti Mäntylä

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The Industrial Internet starts from the shop floor

Industrial Internet has had a huge effect on the process of manufacturing automobiles. You can find plenty of case examples from this article by Dan Zhang for Dataversity. Audi has been making their production facilities smart in ways which couldn’t have been imagined before the level of connectivity we have reached today. Their approach includes the whole production chain from the arrival of goods to rolling out the finished product.

“Though implementing smart factories will require new skills, new talent, and new ways of thinking about how production, logistics, and planning intertwine, early adopters of Industry 4.0 stand to gain increased production efficiencies, better product individualization, and lower defect rates”, Zhang writes.

Read more about smart factories at http://www.dataversity.net/smart-factories-and-the-industrial-internet-of-things/

Image credit: Rainer Plelndl / Shutterstock.com

Via Dataversity

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What is the key benefit that digitalization brings to manufacturing?

The Internet of Manufacturing was held in Munich on April 5 – 6.2016 and Industrial Internet Now was present. Consisting of inspirational keynotes, panel discussions and networking activities, Internet of Manufacturing drew decision-makers together to gain a deeper business and technical understanding of Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet landscape.

We asked six experts on what they think is the key benefit that digitalization brings to manufacturing.

Image credit: Internet of Business

by Industrial Internet Now

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Five steps towards a more holistic approach in industrial manufacturing

The various processes involved in the manufacturing of goods have long stayed separate from each other. Nowadays it’s increasingly important to have a complete view of the processes and the various technologies involved, from the beginning to the end. The industrial manufacturing in the future should have a strong push towards a more holistic approach, says Professor Kari T. Koskinen, Head of Department, Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Systems at Tampere University of Technology.

“This course of development is based on digitalization. Every level of manufacturing is being digitized, and now companies are beginning to evaluate what additional value they can gain from this development”, Koskinen says.

Koskinen raises five points that are essential in shifting to a more holistic engineering intelligence approach, and which should be taken into consideration when digitizing operations. According to Koskinen, the theoretical base for the points listed is based on what we can see happening in industrial companies and environments.

1. Data flow and optimization

“Today, if you build machinery, you start from the lines drawn on the designers’ desk, and finish with life cycle management. All the functions are largely in their own silos. Digitalization makes it possible to utilize the same developed models in various parts of the process. It is possible to have structured data already in the designing process, instead of using parsers and fitting the software into the conceived design. This provides great possibilities on the design of machinery, but it also requires a different set of features and functionalities from the software. One example of the new possibilities is utilizing semantic models in the design process.”

2. Collaborative processes

“We are moving into the direction, where co-operation becomes more important inside organizations and between them. Thus the manufacturing process has to be thought of in a new way, just the same as the designing process.”

3. Competence management

“It is important to be able to comprehend why certain machinery is designed the way it is. There are a lot of companies, that have built fine machinery, but no one remembers why the design solutions are the way they are, because the personnel changes. It is vital that this knowledge passes through the whole organization.”

4. Built-in intelligence

“When we reach the stage where the whole manufacturing process is based on a fully controlled approach, we can build intelligence into the structures and the machinery, instead of adding it afterwards, like we do today.”


“Instead of services, I prefer to speak of cyber-physical systems. The term takes into consideration the fact that while the relative portion of services is increasing and digitalization brings a whole new variety of possibilities concerning them, there still needs to be a physical asset to go with services, especially in the context of machine manufacturing”

5. New business models

“What we want to achieve with this development is added value. This process of manufacturing brings forth a large variety of new business models, through which we can think about manufacturing in a whole new way and design wholly new services.”One of the prominent ways these five points show in businesses is through the trend of moving from product offerings to services, and the re-evaluation of their relationship.

Digitalization, new business opportunities and benefits

“Instead of services, I prefer to speak of cyber-physical systems. The term takes into consideration the fact that while the relative portion of services is increasing and digitalization brings a whole new variety of possibilities concerning them, there still needs to be a physical asset to go with services, especially in the context of machine manufacturing”, Koskinen says.

Digitalization brings new possibilities and benefits to production systems. If there is the ability to gather and combine information not only from the environment, but also from the flow of materials and the workers, the data that emerges helps in optimizing the manufacturing processes a considerable amount.

“There is also the development of human-robot-collaboration. We’ll eventually get to the point where the intelligence of robots allows them to move freely outside of their current enclosures. The benefits include increased floor space in the facility, productivity, multiformity and flexibility to the various manufacturing processes. Not to mention the new possibilities in the maintenance of the machinery”, Koskinen says.

The new advancements in simulation models and virtual reality can be utilized to assist the personnel in their work, and ancillaries can be distributed to help in trouble shooting.

“In the future the worker doesn’t have to go part by part in solving what the problem with the machine in question is. Instead through these models one can visualize exactly where the problem lies”.

Kari T. Koskinen works as Head of Department, Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Systems at Tampere University of Technology

Image credit: everything possible / Shutterstock.com

Interview w/ Kari T. Koskinen

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Grappling the main challenges on the road to a fully realized Industrial Internet

The promises of the added value brought by the Industrial Internet are insurmountable, but the road to a fully realized Industrial Internet includes a multitude of questions that need to be answered. Associate Editor David Bisson of Tripwire has listed five of the main challenges concerning the Industrial Internet. Many of these have to do with the security issues relating to the increasingly online architecture of production facilities. As Bisson puts it, “in every case, there is a course of action available to industries; it’s simply up to them how they would like to proceed”. Read more at: http://www.tripwire.com/state-of-security/featured/5-key-challenges-for-the-industrial-internet-of-things-iiot/

Image credit: Vladimir Ardnt / Shutterstock.com

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