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When worlds collide, innovations are born

Jarkko Vesa, Founder & CEO of management consulting company Not Innovated Here, has had the opportunity to get thoroughly acquainted with the possibilities that the industrial internet brings in different industries. As the technology enabling the required connectivity and data gathering has become more common, the question on everyone’s minds is how to find new business models from these new opportunities. Vesa thinks that the solution for finding new innovations lies in bringing in experts from very different backgrounds to the planning table.

According to Vesa, one of the most prominent opportunities for finding new ways of utilizing the technological advancements comes from the cooperation of start-ups, hackers and industrial companies, coming together and trying out new things.

“I’ve attended various industrial hackathon events and found that we have a lot of analytics tools and start-ups that offer great visualizations. This world can be swiftly utilized when the Application Programming Interfaces (API’s) are opened in a controlled manner. This way the traditional industries are able utilize the know-how of start-ups, and this is where the real potential lies.”

Vesa points out that the main idea is to bring applications of the consumer world and the industrial environments closer to each other.

“Opening the interfaces in the industrial internet enables this culture. That’s how we get into the same kind of buzz that’s been happening in consumer services, enabled by Google, Apple and other operators alike. What we’ve witnessed in industrial hackathons is that these two worlds can be quickly combined together.”

One of the developments in the industrial internet is that it improves user experiences in industrial environments and new solutions are introduced at a rapid pace.

“There is a lot of utilization of motion detection features nowadays, where a crane can follow its operator or a welding machine can follow the movement of the welders arm. A lot of the solutions involve intuitive interfaces, such as smart glasses, speech recognition or other convenient ways of communicating with machines.”

The world can’t be built in a day

Vesa sees that one of the keys to unlocking new business benefits lies in utilizing a start-up mentality in finding new solutions. He argues that in the start-up world, large questions are not solved all at once, but rather with quick and dirty and good enough type of solutions.

“This sort of lean thinking enables solutions to be developed through new versions and it also provides the ability to make changes faster“.

In Vesa’s opinion, there are certain similarities in the current state of the industrial internet to where the telecoms industry was in the late nineties.

“I wrote my thesis on the development of mobile technology back in the turn of the millennium. Back then the tele operator business resembled the traditional industries a lot. Everything had to be 100 per cent tested and confirmed. And suddenly these internet geeks started showing up and doing things with a good enough attitude. This was the focal thinking of the new generation – it doesn’t hurt if everything is not tested thoroughly. The ethos was that the users will give feedback and the product will be developed based on it. This sort of thinking horrified the traditional telecoms industry. They said that they can’t build critical systems with that sort of mentality”.

Vesa points out that security, safety and quality issues need to be managed, but adding a certain open mindset and courage to research and development will lead to innovations.

“Of course there needs to be the right places where to experiment. But in suitable places and instances, where risks are managed, the development teams should be given more freedom to try things out. I think the industrial hackathons are a perfect place for that – a sandbox to experiment in, within safe boundaries”.

Industrial internet or industrial intranet?

A lot of the new innovations around industrial internet have, however, focused on improving productivity on a machine level, ranging from predicative maintenance to wearables in an industrial environment.

In Vesa’s opinion, there will be a lot of innovations on a machinery level in the near future, but getting the solutions to the next stage in the evolution will require more time.

“The development stages are in order: machinery, factory, supply chain and ecosystem. In the large scale of things, I believe that in the beginning the first big success stories will be the interfaces, which are relatively simple and fast to build”.

This leads to the question, whether we’re really in the age of an industrial internet or an industrial intranet?

“If we look at existing business cases, we are managing, monitoring and operating on a machine level, but we’re only just moving towards conducting these on a factory level. Managing a whole supply chain or an ecosystem is still far away. There are certain challenges of systemic innovation, where the whole chain needs to reach a certain level for it to spread”, Vesa says.

What would need to happen in order to reach the level where the machinery of different operators or even industries could communicate seamlessly with each other?

“Recognizing things is one of the challenges here. The machines, equipment and products need to be equipped with RFID’s or some other tags. When bar codes came along, it was a huge step forward at the time. In order for them to spread it required a few big operators in retail who decided to start using them and demanded the supplying industries to start using them as well. That was back then, but which operators these days would be powerful enough to start driving this kind of change? Of course many industrial companies are in a position where they have their supply chains well managed and can use their power to implement new solutions”.

First step: Just do it!

When all the right components are in place, Vesa gives three key things to consider when innovating new business models or solutions based on the industrial internet.

“The first one – Just do it. Here in Europe, we have a tradition of planning for a long time before moving to execution, where as in the United States it’s quite the opposite. This affects everything we do, from legislation to standardization. I think the most important thing is just to get going”, Vesa starts out.

“The second point is about agility and speed. There has been an increase in the Lean and Minimum Viable Product (MVP) thinking, where one does not aim for perfection right away, but for a good enough version, which can be developed further based on the user feedback. The important thing is not to get stuck on the planning for too long, but to bring the product out and test it with the clients”.

“The third point regards cyber safety. It is pretty common that this takes first place and then security issues become a top priority. When everything is done very cautiously and thoroughly, there is a risk that the information security starts to drive the business itself. I claim that an information system cannot be developed information security first. You have to create it business first and then make sure all of the security issues are in order”, Vesa states.

“This is an area where it is very easy to start seeing threats everywhere, raising concerns and portraying scenarios where cranes are being high-jacked in ports or something similar. In reality, everything is planned thoroughly and the risks are managed, for example, using data diodes, which transmit information only to one direction”.

“The industrial internet is too important a matter to be left solely in the hands of the cyber security experts. It has to stay on the business agenda”, Vesa concludes.

Jarkko Vesa is the Founder & CEO at Not Innovated Here – Laboratory of Creative Destruction

Image credit: loreanto / Shutterstock.com

Interview w/ Jarkko Vesa

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Key findings from the Industry of Things World Survey Report 2015

To measure the actual impact of the Internet of Things (IoT) on businesses today, in spring 2015, the Industry of Things World team gathered the opinions of hundreds of professionals around the globe. Maria Relaki, Director of Product & Content at we.CONECT Global Leaders, shares some of the key insights the study found.

From January to April 2015, the Industry of Things World team conducted a survey with the aim of charting the opinions of 738 IoT and Industry 4.0 managers from international companies in different industries such as manufacturing, automotive, logistics and supply chain, and production, among others. The survey aimed to examine the efforts and investment activities that are being allocated into IoT, gauge industry trends, and gain an overview of the IoT market.

Although many of the results of the Industry of Things World Survey Report 2015 were to be expected, like the fact that 76% of the respondents say that IoT technologies have an impact on their businesses and that one of their biggest challenges is how to capitalize on the opportunities arising, there are also a number of striking findings.

For example, in response to the question of what the respondents consider as the biggest opportunity that IoT presents to their companies, about a third selected the answer, “gaining competitive advantage”. On the other hand, however, when asked about the budgets allocated to IoT projects, 27% of those surveyed say that there is no budget whatsoever in their companies at the moment.

Relaki explains the reason behind this surprising disconnect, “Everyone does see the high importance of Industry 4.0 and IoT. That’s a given. But while people understand the relevance on an individual level and can foresee the coming shift, the current budgets do not match up. In other words, businesses need to rethink their strategies.”

This point is reinforced by the survey’s findings that as much as 40% of businesses are only just planning to implement IoT enabled projects within the next 12 months. Twenty-eight percent already have IoT enabling technologies in place, while a tenth of respondents believe that IoT is not relevant for their companies at all.

Furthermore, the survey reveals that the ownership of IoT-related projects – as well as the little budget that is invested into them – is often held by companies’ research and development teams rather than by IT production or engineering. According to Relaki, this may reflect the fact that many companies have yet to arrive at the implementation stage.

“While it is clear in theory that IoT will make things more cost-effective, quicker, and more efficient throughout every process in the company, the potential return on investment is for many not clear yet, as it will only be evident in the medium to long term,” she says.

When asked what sets early adopters apart from the laggards, Relaki responds that a decisive factor for companies is the presence of an innovative and forward-looking leadership.

The need for a standard platform

Because the area of the Industrial Internet and IoT remains a relatively new frontier for the majority of businesses, there is a shortage of real-life case studies on the topic. Furthermore, while a handful of companies may already be working on implementations, it is unlikely that they are seeing any concrete results yet. According to Relaki, this lack of certainty is among the barriers that are keeping enterprises and their managers from getting on board on IoT investment and implementation.

“We are faced with different technologies, different protocols, different manufacturers, and different networks. The whole point is to bring them all together, and you need standard interfaces for that.”

“When you look at large companies like Siemens, SAP, Microsoft, and Intel, for instance, these are huge businesses that need to drastically change their ways of thinking and operating – and that takes time, and a lot of investment. I’d like to see the positive side of things, that changes are being made, but it might still take a lot of time to get there.”

Another significant barrier that Relaki refers to is the lack of standards, especially in the development of manufacturing applications with relation to the Industrial Internet.

“It’s all great and good to have the possibility and the technology to connect machines to each other. But we are faced with different technologies, different protocols, different manufacturers, and different networks. The whole point is to bring them all together, and you need standard interfaces for that.”

Relaki notes that there are a number of associations and groups forming that are working on IoT standards, protocols and testbeds, such as the Industrial Internet Consortium, W3C, the OPC Foundation, the Internet of Things Alliance and IEEE. However, they have tended to operate separately from each other rather than coming together and treating it as a common project.

“I think standards will play a big role. The interesting question is how it’s going to be done,” she remarks.

Industry of Things World 2015

Organized by we.CONECT Global Leaders, Industry of Things World 2015 is a strategic conference that aims to gather stakeholders from a variety of industries who play an active role in developing the industrial Internet. Scheduled to take place in Berlin from September 21 to 22, 2015, one of the distinguishing features of the two-day program is its focus on real-life case studies.

Among the conference’s keynote speakers who will share their experiences in realizing and capitalizing on IoT in their businesses are Filippo Passerini, CIO of Procter & Gamble; Moshe Rappoport, Executive Technology Briefer at IBM Research; Rolf Riemenschneider, Head of Sector Internet of Things at DG Connect of the European Commission; Thomas Hahn, Chief Software Expert at the Research and Technology Center of Siemens, and many more.

To find out more about the agenda and speakers of Industry of Things World 2015, visit www.industryofthingsworld.com/.

Download the full survey report.

Maria Relaki works as Director of Product & Content at we.CONECT Global Leaders and is responsible for the Industry of Things World global event series.

Image credit: asharkyu / Shutterstock.com

Interview w/ Maria Relaki

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Is IoT in a need of standardization?

As the standardization of Bluetooth and WiFi have already helped the industries develop their automation, transportation and streamlined other technologies that improve material handling, there are signs that IoT could be going through a similar process. Cees Links, the CEO of GreenPeak, a company involved in RF communication technology for wireless connected applications, thinks that IoT is generating innovation and opportunities while at the same time “creating an immediate need for standardization.” He emphasizes in an article by Design News that to have machines communicating with each other, networking standards and a communication protocol are both essential and handy. “Ultimately everyone benefits from standards, as they make life easy, stimulate adoption, and therefore help to build large market opportunity,” he says.

Read more on why Mr. Links thinks IoT should be standardized at: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=276896&itc=dn_analysis_element&

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Via Design News

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New renaissance in manufacturing

Smart manufacturing is changing the way we look at automation and manual work. Gary Mintchell, an acclaimed writer, advisor and speaker on technology and manufacturing, shares his views on what are the pros and cons of the digitalization that is currently revolutionizing manufacturing. What will be the role of humans in the process of manufacturing goods?

Mintchell views the development as a natural part of evolution in industrialization. People have always tried to lighten the burden of manual labor with technical solutions and innovations. This has freed their time to focus on other things and has also made work more secure.

“What we are really doing is making things safer – we have removed people from potentially dangerous locations in various sides of manufacturing, for instance in painting and automotive plants. We have always focused on an ergonomic way of doing things in order to prevent repetitive stress syndrome and all that. Current technological developments allow us to focus on how we can further use things like robotics, working alongside people, to make processes more effective and, furthermore, how we can have people and technology working together safely.”

New types of jobs will emerge

With smart manufacturing reducing the need for human labor, some jobs will probably vanish – but new ones should also emerge. The challenge with this is that we don’t yet know what those future jobs could be. Mintchell thinks that new types of employment come from the visionary people that develop new products and services, of which we may not know about today. On the other hand there are actually a lot of jobs that require people skills or relationship skills. That is likely to stay that way.

“I think that people will be displaced from one kind of work and hopefully they will be put into another kind of work that is more human. Work that requires more of the entire human being – not just their hands or their back.”

What will smart analytics mean for manufacturing businesses’ efficiency or their supply production chains? Well, those are also going through a paradigm shift. By harvesting all the data in a plant it is possible to monitor the performance in real time, noticing what works and what doesn’t minute-by-minute. No more monthly reporting that lets you know what happened in the past when it’s already too late to change it. Smart analytics can help reduce the very costly stoppage times and provide better tools for planning all turnarounds and downtime in plants.

“Maintenance people are learning that there is this existing technology in their plants that they didn’t know about that has the ability to monitor things and stop wasting time. No more sending people off to lubricate some bearings or replace some valve just because it’s always been done every five years – no matter whether it actually needs to be done or not. Less money and time wasted.”

Helping and empowering people to adopt new tools

The biggest hurdle with these smart analytics is that people might not know how to use them. Properly capitalizing on industrial internet requires a change in human behavior. This won’t happen overnight.

“It’s about how we can help people become better business managers. How we can use these technologies for business problems, not just for control problems.”

It takes some time and effort to motivate people and explain the advantages of the tools at hand. Unfortunately there are even examples where the technology is there but it has been deliberately switched off because people still believe they can spot things better with their own eyes than with the help of technology. The innovations can’t help you if you don’t let them.

“There is, for example, a technology called HART (Highway Addressable Remote Transducer). Many of the instruments in plants are enabled by HART which is a digital technology over an analog signal. Some people are only using the old fashioned analog signal and have not even turned on the digital part that would provide valuable information to them.”

One way of getting people to use the technology is improving the user interface. According to Mintchell, a lot of effort is being put towards this as we speak. Overall, it has a lot to do with our willingness to try and learn new things and open our eyes to the possibilities of the new era.

“It’s about how we can help people become better business managers. How we can use these technologies for business problems, not just for control problems. Instead of thinking about automation as the end, automation is just a platform where we can control things better and enable people to make the appropriate decisions. I think we are on the verge of a new renaissance in manufacturing.”

Gary Mintchell works as an advisor and speaker. He is also the editor of The Manufacturing Connection: http://themanufacturingconnection.com/

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Interview w/ Gary Mintchell

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Designing industrial controls heading towards cyber security

As factory automation breaks through, more and more machines and devices on the factory floor are connected to Internet. For that reason a demand for cyber security is growing all the time. The fact is, industrial control systems cannot be updated as easily as regular IT systems due to the high availability requirements. “In addition, the life cycles of ICSs span 20 years or more. The availability of such systems is their highest priority – a targeted denial-of-service (DoS) attack, for example, should not cause an ICS to crash because of overloaded resources and the inability to respond to process events. The potential consequences of such an event include damage to systems, financial losses and could even endanger lives. These kind of cyber-attacks occur typically via the Ethernet port (TCP/IP), wireless ports, USB ports and other accessible external ports,” says Beat Kreuter of Dektra at EURObiz. Read more about cyber security at: http://www.eurobiz.com.cn/battening-down-the-hatches-protecting-against-cyber-attacks/

Image credit: Maksim Kabakou / Shutterstock.com

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