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We are entering a new industrial era, where new forces created by the proliferation of data, robotics, technology, and artificial intelligence are changing the dynamics, risks, and success factors for global manufacturing companies. To be successful in this new environment, manufacturers, now more than ever, should be considering a paradigm shift, focusing more on R&D, integrating new technologies, and pursuing collaborative business models.
In its 2014 Global Manufacturing Outlook report, KPMG noted numerous strategies and tactics that global manufacturing companies can deploy to capitalize on new market opportunities and stay ahead of their competition. These include predictive analytics, new OEM/supplier collaborative innovation models, technology platforms that support real-time business intelligence, and resilient and transparent supply chains that create virtual, vertically integrated manufacturing networks.
Enabling these strategies are key transformative technologies such as big data, analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT can be classified into two categories: Consumer and Industrial. In the first category, imagine yourself going home from work. As you reach the curb in front of your home, your car will send a signal to your garage door to open. As you enter your home, your network will detect your presence and immediately turn on specific appliances, such as lights, the TV or stereo, airconditioning unit, or whatever it is that you have programmed it to previously. That's just a simple example of how the consumer IoT can function.
On the other hand, the industrial IoT—which is more closely related to our magazine coverage—describes an integrated system of systems where sensors and actuators provide specific data such as measurements, timing, and equipment status, to name a few, all connected and visible throughout the enterprise. In this scenario, we’ll see the convergence of operations technology (OT) in the factory floor with information technology (IT) in the enterprise, all working together towards a single purpose—a more-efficient, profitable and successful manufacturing operation. With industrial IoT, companies will be able to view real-time data on their manufacturing processes, and compare performance across their plants, or even shifts within their plants. With industrial IoT, they can also quickly scale their production up or down; manage their energy consumption; and even manage, troubleshoot and fix their processes and plants, even when they are located in different parts of the world.
Data plays a key role in all of these. With the forecast of 50 billion “connected” devices by 2020, it’s expected that there will be a deluge of data coming from these “things,” which means a mindset shift is required when it comes to deciding what to do and how to leverage these data to take your manufacturing operations to the next level.
Which leads me to our topic for this month’s issue of SMT Magazine—"The Data Factor(y): Looking at the Industrial Internet." In our recent survey regarding data and how they are helping electronics assemblers improve their manufacturing processes, among the key challenges we found include finding the "right" data and ensuring its accuracy and integrity, and how manufacturers can derive intelligence from data.
To help you navigate your industrial IoT journey through this flood of data, in this issue we feature a great line up of articles that discuss industrial IoT, its impact on your manufacturing processes, and how you can leverage data to help you further improve production operations and efficiency.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the November 2015 issue of SMT Magazine.