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Improved insight to lifting operations

Equipment observation and monitoring as a concept has been around since the industrial revolution. However, the development of both sensor technologies and the widespread use of the internet have combined to create a truly revolutionary approach for companies to understand how the equipment they manufacture and service is used in the industries, says Bernie D’Ambrosi, VP, Service Americas Region, Konecranes.

Interview w/ Bernie D'Ambrosi

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Three trends inside a trend – where is industrial internet heading next?

Industrial internet has gained widespread attention as a global megatrend. Now it is time to analyze the prospects more closely, as there is no consensual point of view on how to convert the benefits of the new wireless technology into profitable business. At the moment, three sub-trends can be detected. In addition, the strategy of the most successful companies seems to be simple: it is all about trial and error, writes Sampsa Mattheiszen, Product Manager, Digital Services at Konecranes.

Over the past few years, the industrial internet has claimed its place in many companies’ research and development agenda. The possible benefits of the new technological revolution are generally well understood and the quest for increased productivity, automatized processes and enhanced security, for instance, is going on.

However, when an emerging trend becomes a buzzword, an analytical mindset is indispensable. In other words, in order to take advantage of the ongoing technological progress one must look inside the trend. What kind of sub-trends, mechanisms, success stories and developments are taking place within the big picture? What do different actors and stakeholders think about the phenomenon and how do they respond to the changes in their business environment?

In the following paragraphs, I will examine three recent trends of the megatrend. There is already a significant business going on, but future prospects are also being formed. Who will gain – and how?

1. The divide in three – where is the business?

Step by step, key players in the field of the industrial internet are taking shape. Basically, the actors can be divided into three groups: tech-oriented solution providers, service producers and process developers and, finally, end users. They all see the future possibilities and challenges from a different perspective.

For the moment, the flourishing business takes place mainly among the first group. It consists of the developers of digital solutions, which provide the solid technological foundation for the industrial internet. In this category coding and software development, in the form of a mobile application, for instance, is of the essence.

There is a growing market for technological solutions and the providers are becoming more and more professional. Their clients are in focus: the second group of companies take advantage of recent digital solutions, and they are aiming for boosting their own performance or providing more rationalized services to their customers.

For the time being, the enterprises in the second category are few, but the emerging front runners have adopted a functional strategy in convincing the end users of the benefits of data collection, analysis and automated actions. However, this third group of actors in the field is far from being homogeneous, as the second sub-trend shows.

2. The increasing polarization of customers – what is the solution?

The polarization of the end users is a recent, yet gathering tendency and the dividing line between the parties is clear. One part seems to be enthusiastic about the future possibilities of the industrial internet, while the other part is more reserved and risk-averse.

The enthusiasm is easily understandable since the wireless connectivity enables many advantages in productivity. The core question is, why some customers feel reserved on the threshold of a new era? It is not unusual that agreements between companies in some industries forbid data collection, remote controlling and internet-based solutions. This is the case in car manufacturing, for instance. In other words, in some industries there is a thick firewall, which prevents the spread of new intelligent solutions.

“The collaborative partners must build a mutual trust and respect by sharing as much collected information as possible, since it is the only way for future development.”

According to our analysis, openness and transparency are crucial in overcoming these reservations. The aim and significance of the available technical and digital solutions must be articulated openly to the customer. In addition, one of the most important notions is that the collected data must be easily usable and simultaneously accessible for the service provider and the end user. The collaborative partners must build a mutual trust and respect by sharing as much collected information as possible, since it is the only way for future development.

3. The front runners of industrial internet are named now – how to be among them?

The early winners of the industrial internet were software producers, who enabled the whole phenomenon. However, the second step of the trend is just around the corner: the front runners of the industrial internet are named now. How to make the most of the new technological revolution?

Two common denominators define the most successful companies in the field. Firstly, their business model includes, for instance, both services and devices, manufacturing and maintenance. Secondly, the companies have injected a totally new attitude in their DNA of doing business.

The secret is that success equals a simple strategy of trial and error. Granted, the emerging front runners have made courageous investments considering the technological advancements. Nevertheless, if the direction has gone awry, they have plainly changed course. If one wants to capitalize on the new way of doing things, one must accept the success as well as flops as part of the process.

In practice, new solutions are making more and more data visible and discoverable. However, the benefits remain limited, if there is a lack of sound strategy how the increased amount of data changes one’s behavior or action. If a company is able to notice and solve the puzzle, the probability of success grows significantly. Another example could be a new platform, which unintentionally overlaps with an old one, for instance. Firstly, the loss in efficiency must be realized. Then it is time to take one step back and integrate the platforms in order to find a perfect synergy and effectiveness.

Trial and error is the only way to learn how the industrial internet really works. To put it differently, it is about constant experimenting, monitoring, fine-tuning and, most importantly, learning. Of course reflection and analysis are crucial ingredients in building know-how, too. Still, the future of the industrial internet belongs to those who are courageous enough to challenge themselves.

Image credit: Jezper / Shutterstock.com

Sampsa Mattheiszen

Sampsa Mattheiszen works as ‎Product Manager, Digital Services at Konecranes

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Industrial Internet enables information of actual usage of machinery

In the past, when you had a fault in machinery, you had to troubleshoot and go in to them to determine what the problem was. Industrial internet gives access to a lot of the information right at your fingertips with regards to the overall condition and status of the machinery. Key benefits that are brought are real-time information, actual usage as well as working statistics, says Jim Skowron, Regional VP Sales, Service Americas Region, Konecranes.

Interview w/ Jim Skowron

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Sensors, software and breaking down barriers

Equipment, platforms and components in the manufacturing industry are going through a rapid change as companies are capitalizing and investing in IoT-related technologies. Jerry Sorrells, product manager at Parker Hannifin’s Automation Group tells in Manufacturing Business Technology interview that these technologies are driven because of their “ability to use instant information to decrease the cost of manufacturing and increase operational efficiency.” According to Sorrells, with the help of IoT, basic processes like maintenance scheduling can be automated. As a result, the need for manual processing is greatly reduced or even eliminated. This would, for instance, have positive effects in automotive company’s production line.

Read more about Jerry Sorrells’ suggestions for IoT implementation in 2015 at: http://www.mbtmag.com/articles/2015/03/industrial-iot-2015-sensors-software-and-breaking-down-barriers

Image credit: Vladimir Nenezic / Shutterstock.com

Via Manufacturing Business Technology

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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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