Developers and Installers are embracing the IIoT trend as the market demand for IIoT-based solutions continues to grow stronger. End Users are expecting their machines to be more connected and provide them with more data to help them operate better and ultimately optimize their operations. Before reviewing their approaches or changing their design specifications in response to this trend, Developers and Installers are educating themselves on everything ‘Connected Solutions.’
To help in that education process, we reached out to our expert – EcoStruxure Industry Business Development Manager, Simone Gianotti – for his thoughts on the topic. Simone shares his insights in this brief Q&A:
Interviewer: How do you recommend that Developers and Installers approach the IIoT?
Simone: That’s a very good question. I would say that Developers and Installers need to approach IIoT with an open mind and an entrepreneurial spirit. The IIoT is here to stay and will only grow from here. It’s up to the Developers and Installers to educate themselves on the opportunities of IIoT for their respective businesses and work to incorporate these new connected technologies into their offerings moving forward.
Interviewer: What can Developers and Installers do to cost-effectively bring an IIoT-based solution to their customers? What if their systems have pieces from multiple manufactures?
Simone: Often, jumping into a complex, cloud-based solution does require an investment. My advice would be to start small and start specific. Begin with cost effective connectivity and build from there.
As a first step, you could incorporate connectivity that would allow your engineers to connect remotely to a machine for troubleshooting and repair. This can be done relatively easily and may save your customer significantly in the longer-term if repairs can be done remotely versus asking a specialized technician to get on a plane to make that same repair onsite.
Interviewer: If all Developers and Installers are doing it, how can one differentiate their solutions from their competition?
Simone: I think that’s exactly the point – not everyone is adopting the IIoT today or providing those solutions to their customers. We are still in a phase in the IIoT story where not everyone is providing it so, as a Developer or Installer, if you embrace this technology and incorporate it into your offer, you are already distinguishing yourself.
Interviewer: Are their quantifiable benefits that Developers and Installers can offer their customers by leveraging IIoT-based solutions?
Simone: There are not many numerical ‘proofs’ with concrete figures that we can share and guarantee. There is, however, credible third-party data from trusted firms like McKinsey that have explored this with marketing trend studies and shown, for example, that machine builders can reduce their time-to-market by up to 50% and reduce maintenance costs by embracing the IIoT.
These have also noted that the IIoT is not going away any time soon. I expect that in 5-10 years, it will be common for equipment to have Augmented Reality embedded into it. Every piece will be communicating across the system and to the cloud. This is the way the market is going and there is no reason not to embrace it now.
Interviewer: What type of customer do you think can benefit from implementing this technology? From the Developers’ and Installers’ perspective, who can they best target to grow their business by leveraging this technology.
Simone: Wow, that’s a difficult one. The entire industry is going this way, so it’s hard to say which customer over another.
Let’s start with Cloud Services. There are a lot of End Users whose level of digitation can be described as tracking figures, such as temperature over time, on an Excel Spreadsheet. They have not taken a single step into the IIoT world. There is not much cost or effort needed to go from this spreadsheet to a cloud-based data system that would allow this customer to track their data from the plant or from their mobile device and share that data through the cloud.
If we look at other offers, let’s go to augmented reality. We have seen great interest in those looking to increase safety. This technology allows End Users to increase safety by making available clear, consistent information that is standardized and shared throughout a plant. This could be operation information or specific protocols, such as ‘Lock Out – Tag Out.’ This system also logs when the information is accessed to report on when and how a procedure is performed. This allows a plant manager to easily track information, such as how often a procedure was completed and how long that procedure took to complete.
To further the example, if the procedure was completed five times with four taking less than two minutes and one taking 10 minutes, the manager can look into that outlier. Was the person doing that repair qualified? Did they have the right skills or training? By identifying the outlier, then exploring the situation, the manager can begin optimizing, but it all started with the augmented reality system. Accessibility to information, consistency of procedure, insight into operation and operations management – all made possible from this connected system.
Schneider Electric recognizes the challenges facing automation Developers and Installers. EcoStruxure offers a manufacture-agnostic approach to help you deliver on the expectation of IIoT for your customers:
- Connected products delivering operational data in real time
- Edge control managing the process, optimizing as needed
- Apps and analytics providing the agility to allow users to make decisions faster
Look to Schneider Electric as a strategic partner for tools and strategies for delivering the IIoT and EcoStruxure to your End User customers.