Manufacturing companies have always focused on creating more efficient operations, and they have been really good at it. But at a certain point, due to the many years of optimization, you might hit a wall. Moreover, new and more complex parameters have become essential for efficient manufacturing, such as optimization of the supply chain and better management of products, not to mention sustainability and work focused on getting sustainable manufacturing in order to become carbon neutral and/or minimize waste.
These new challenges, and the ongoing pursuit of efficiency, are a reality many companies face today.
Digitalization is not a goal in itself, but it is a prerequisite for solving many of the new business challenges manufacturing companies are met with. In the pursuit of efficiency, the first priority is to become fully aware of the business challenges your company experiences today. Without this, projects are prone to becoming overly technology-driven, too big, and risk losing direction.
As part of the technical conduct of our customers’ challenges, we work with an “optimization loop.” The goal is to discuss and uncover concerns, challenges, and ambitions for the project, from data collection to how data is to be utilized by the business, for example in reporting and comparison or push-back of configurations for machines.
Our experience tells us that creating a connection to the manufacturing units is a complex and costly area for most businesses. For this reason, connecting all elements of manufacturing from the beginning is rarely profitable – neither from a time perspective. Make sure you are set on a purpose and what specific business case you want to fulfil. Then, spend the necessary time to find out if it is a line in manufacturing, comparison of the same machine across lines, measurement between machines, or something else that can fulfil your goal. Furthermore, you need to create an efficient way to “onboard”/connect new sensors, PLCs, Excel sheets, databases, and more. This may also be relevant for creating the right data foundation.
The first step of the optimization loop is to collect data from the on-premises manufacturing line, meaning at the factory. Here we ensure:
In connection with the second step of the optimization loop, we focus on how to make the solution transmit data to the cloud, including:
When we reach the third step in the optimization loop, we prepare the data platform, which includes:
At the fourth step of the optimization loop the focus is on making data available and usable in manufacturing, including:
To extract value out of technology, you need to know what you want to use IoT for in relation to your customers, your organization, and the strategic direction of the company. There is, basically, an untapped potential in relation to new earnings opportunities and completely new customer segments. But this is only realized if sales, IT, and R&D/manufacturing work towards the same goal.
Maersk Container Industry (MCI) is a prime example of how IoT opens up new opportunities. But if the goal is to utilize IoT to create new business, it’s important to not only think about optimizing and automating existing workflows but also about offering a service to customers that creates value for them.
In the long run, the solutions also create a completely new knowledge base, which gives our customers real insight into product use, product and component performance, durability and much more. Another business opportunity, which the insight gives you, is a more service-oriented subscription model as well as great opportunities to optimize and improve your company’s service business.