Smart Factories & Crisis Management
Published on : Friday 08-05-2020
Embracing industrial IoT for remote industrial automation can help in crisis management, says Karen Ravindranath.
As the lines of a famous English song elucidate, ‘When the going gets tough, the tough gets going’. Today the world is confronting one of humanity's biggest crisis due to COVID-19 and various governments, organisations and the public are doing the best they can for bringing the situation under control. The health crisis also appears to have stemmed an operational crisis for businesses across the globe. Manufacturing industry is one of the worst hit by the pandemic, especially apparel, luxury and automotive. Even those industries which need to be operational like daily packaged foods, disinfectants, sanitisers, pharmaceuticals, etc., need to ensure the utmost safety of their staff while catering to the growing demand. This is where remote monitoring, automation and empowering manufacturing staff with digital technology plays a huge role. Industrial IoT could be a major flag bearer for helping these companies stay operational when it is needed the most, while securing business continuity, employees and customers & health and safety and cater to the increased demand cycle.
In fact, one of Gartner's report stating that there would be a rise in enterprise and automotive IoT end points by 2020 is a testimony to the need for IoT in manufacturing. While the deployment of IoT in industries has turned factories smart, it has also been estimated that more than 30% of our
interactions with technology will be through conversing with smart machines and simultaneously making shop floors much safer, productive and innovative IIoT is driving unprecedented disruption in an industry that has struggled in recent years due to talent shortages, and this offers hope for the industry’s future. IIoT can transform traditional, linear manufacturing supply chains into dynamic, interconnected systems that can more readily incorporate ecosystem partners. As key enablers of digital supply networks, IIoT technologies help to change the way the products are made and delivered, making factories more efficient, ensuring better safety for human operators, and, in some cases, saving millions of dollars. The world gets incredibly connected and progressing towards industry 4.0, India will have to move along with it at a similar pace. The manufacturing industry in India has experienced different development levels for some time and ushers to be one of the most elevated developing segments in the coming years. As India is progressing through digitisation and at the helm of meeting global demands, utilising technologies like IoT that can change business activities will be a key enabler for organisations to stay focused.
Implementing IIoT in Indian manufacturing markets means it takes along the networked sensors and intelligent devices and put those technologies to use directly on the manufacturing floor, collecting data to drive artificial intelligence and predictive analytics. This means that manufacturers now will have detailed real-time data at every point during the manufacturing process and through the distribution chain. IIoT is already a reality and many companies are seeking after its benefits and opportunities. Businesses are achieving immense digital transformation through data driven insights and proactive maintenance of the entire manufacturing value chain. By streamlining supply chains and processes, reducing operational costs, improving safety and environmental conditions in the workplace, manufacturers can afford to focus more on improving competitiveness and business strategies. The advantages are not just limited to increased production efficiency, they also result in derived benefits such as increased transparency, improved quality control and traceability.
The increased adoption of Industrial IoT across industry segments and businesses is opening up tremendous possibilities in terms of business and revenue models. While IoT is increasingly being successfully adopted in many scenarios, there are an equal number of failed attempts, if not more – the reason being choosing the right software platform for the industry type. In terms of the technology and engineering aspects of implementing IIoT, there currently exists a clear separation between the hardware and software platforms, with the majority of them focused on the hardware. However, the dynamic challenges of manufacturing industry like presence of traditional PLCs, devices, need to scale to additional units, need to integrate with rest of the enterprise applications, etc., calls for a reliable, flexible and device agnostic software platform ; a software platform with powerful Industrial IoT features like device life-cycle management, seamless integration, connectivity networks and cross-device communications, multi-layer security, protocols for data normalisation, storage and processing and support for real-time monitoring, analytics and visualisations. Of these, areas such as device management, IoT data analytics and IoT software system scalability and performance characteristics are of unique interest while implementing IoT in industries that only an IoT software platform can address upon.
Manufacturing players should focus on investing in solid software platforms that can scale beyond the current requirements and be accommodating of new and old hardware setup, for smooth adoption, best operational practices and maximum returns. Besides CTOs training the in- house staff and understanding the dynamics of new and emerging technologies like IIoT, AR and the likes, Indian service channel for manufacturing industry should start flexing their teams to get up to speed on the above said technologies. Considering the immense demand for OT services that is growing beyond traditional IT, it’s time channels players and service providers choose the right platform that can help them quickly develop, market and deploy solutions that best fit customer requirements. It is highly imperative for these players to choose the right platform that can offer end-to-end capabilities and also be compliant with the different types of industrial hardware to make their IoT journey a success.
Karen Ravindranath, Director – WebNMS IoT, has over 17 years of experience in enterprise IoT and Telecom Software Products and Solutions and currently heads the Internet of Things initiatives at Zoho Corporation. She handles various functions in IoT from strategy, partner ecosystem development, product road-map development, marketing and innovations. She has played strategic business and technology roles in bringing about connected digital transformation through IoT implementations in key sectors such as Energy, IIoT, Utilities and Retail.