Engineer-to-order Can’t Succeed Without  the Internet of Things

By Catherine
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By Catherine Bolgar

As usual, the Internet is busy disrupting industries: this time, it’s manufacturing. Since the industrial age began around 1760, manufacturing has strived for efficiency through standardization. The Internet—especially the Internet of Things—is taking that apart by allowing for greater personalization.

Making unique products doesn’t mean a return to the days of handmade artisanal goods. Instead, it means multipurpose manufacturing systems and flexible production, often executed by automation and robots that assist human workers.

“Machine tools are typically restricted in their functions and the types of material they can handle,” says Karl Hribernik, department manager at the Bremer Institute for Production and Logistics, or BIBA, in Bremen, Germany. “Production in the future will be more flexible. Cyber-physical, multipurpose production systems and manufacturing cells are the next generation of industrial machinery. In the Industry 4.0 paradigm [alluding to Germany’s initiative to integrate the Internet of Things (IoT) in industry to usher in rapid technological change in manufacturing], distributed resources will make use of local capabilities in flexible supply chains.”

Such flexible systems will rely on the IoT as well as on robots.

Robots can be reprogrammed to do different tasks. So engineer-to-order will make extensive use of robots. It can’t be restricted to single-purpose machines,” Mr. Hribernik says.

Industrial engineer

The communication among robots, machines and humans relies on the Internet of Things. Sensors are getting cheaper even as they are able to do more, with more precision.

The Industrial Internet Consortium, an international group setting the architectural framework and direction for the Industrial Internet, including operating two dozen test beds, launched a new test bed last year using the IoT to track everything on the floor of a factory—tools, parts, work in progress, people.

“There are two reasons,” explains Richard Soley, Massachussetts-based executive director of the Industrial Internet Consortium and CEO of Object Management Group, a technology standards consortium. “We can make more efficient use of the factory floor if we know where everything is. People on the floor spend half their time looking for the right tool. So if the system knows where the tool is, it can say, ‘Tool C is behind you, four meters on the left.’ We also know which parts of the factory floor are likely to be free soon, so we can move in the next part to be worked on. It increases human and machine efficiency. It’s reinventing factory-floor management and greatly enhancing factory-floor safety.”

The communication with workers increasingly is taking place via a worker’s personal smart phone, he adds. “It has sensors in it, it communicates on 25 different communication bands and it’s something you carry everywhere. That is going to be the most ubiquitous IoT communicator.”

The dream in the manufacturing space for decades has been to do what was called flexible manufacturing: changing with short or no notice, Dr. Soley adds. Retooling an automotive production line can take several weeks. So, for example, one motorcycle maker doesn’t retool at all, but builds each motorcycle separately.

“They know more about their customers because of the IOT—tracking customers and predicting what they need,” Dr. Soley says. “Because they meter the production line, they know what’s in production now and what they could be producing on the fly. Essentially they make every order differently. It means they can respond more rapidly to customer demand, offer more options and products and stay ahead of competitors.”

As this approach takes hold, he adds,

We’re looking at a future not far away in which everything you build is completely personalized.”

Indeed, an important aspect of the IoT isn’t just in the making of products but in monitoring  their entire life cycle.

The IoT provides “better information on how products are made and used,” Mr. Hribernik says. “It allows a more granular and precise monitoring of the quality of products being manufactured. If you feed that back into design, it allows engineers and designers to improve design for manufacturing and quality. In the middle of a product’s life, investigating product usage can help detect faults. If companies get that feedback via the Internet of Things, then they can iterate product design and manufacturing more quickly. It also can allow them to provide tailor-made services, like predictive maintenance, during the product’s life. And at the end of life, if you know how a product was used, what parts it was  made of and which parts were replaced, you can better achieve recycling, refurbishing or reuse.”

“It’s a revolution/evolution from mass-producing automated lines to more flexible production based on cyber-physical systems,” Mr. Hribernik says. No matter how refined robots are, they are still far from the flexibility and adaptability of humans. The best practices use robots and automation to augment human workers, by doing things that are too repetitive, strenuous or dangerous for people.

“We see a potential for collaboration with robots to help older workers and keep them in the workplace, maintaining their jobs and also their experience in the company,” he says.

Although awareness and acceptance of IoT and engineer-to-order processes is increasing, “manufacturers are still very, very careful about sharing data out of their production lines with machine-tool providers,” Mr. Hribernik says. “The B2B models need to evolve before widespread acceptance in industry will make an impact on manufacturing.”

 

Catherine Bolgar is a former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe, now working as a freelance writer and editor with WSJ. Custom Studios in EMEA. For more from Catherine Bolgar, along with other industry experts, join the Future Realities discussion on LinkedIn.

Photos courtesy of iStock

How is IoT shifting industrial equipment business models and profits online?

By Alyssa
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IE-EquipmentOutcomes

The era of the Internet of Things (IoT) is opening new business opportunities for industrial equipment (IE) companies. As profit margins are declining at the same time machine efficiency is increasing, manufacturers are seeking alternatives ways to reduce waste and costs. IoT is offering one path to this, by networking objects, adding sensors and capturing data that can be analyzed to improve machine productivity and reliability and reduce downtime.  It is allowing IE companies to create ‘pay as you go’ services, opening new paths for competition and profitability.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “IE companies that don’t rethink business models risk jeopardizing business.” – Dominik Wee @mckinsey 3ds.one/IE-EqOut

An article in the new issue of Compass magazine examines this trend of IE companies investing in IoT to develop new revenue streams through new business models.  Examples from 3 companies – GE, FANUC and SKF – are explored.  GE, for example, has invested nearly $1 billion in IoT, essentially changing the company’s business from selling machinery to selling outcomes, including efficiency and uptime.  FANUC can monitor over 6000 robots in 26 GM factories to see if there’s any abnormal wear that could lead to a failure. If a potential failure is identified, parts can be proactively sent to address the issue before any downtime occurs.  Given that each minute of factory downtime costs GM upwards of $20,000, this can lead to a tremendous savings.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: Why has @GE invested $1B to turn #IOT into a new revenue engine? #3DSCompass 3ds.one/IE-EqOut

To learn more about what these 3 companies and others are doing with IoT as a means to get closer to their customers and improve uptime and efficiency, read the article “From Equipment to Outcomes” now.

 

The Internet of Experience

By Olivier R.
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In an age where connectivity and the internet of things are enabling new business processes, Dassault Systèmes is looking to move a step further and help deliver compelling and connected experiences

Olivier Ribet Dassault Systemes

by Olivier Ribet, Vice President High Tech Industry

At Dassault Systèmes, we’re no longer talking about ‘internet of things’, but rather about the ‘internet of experiences’. Why? Because we believe that the business of every industry is rapidly transforming from ‘delivering compelling experiences’ – which defines the age of experience we have spoken of for three years – to ‘delivering compelling and connected experiences’, capable of enhancing people’s lives.

Although the objects or ‘things’ we own have ears (recording devices), eyes (cameras), voices (speakers), and some even have touch, this silicon nervous system does not send all of its information to a single brain, but rather to far too many brains: company platforms, city platforms, government platforms and individuals’ platforms, which in the end makes my experience cumbersome rather than enjoyable. Applications (both business and consumer-facing) that are single-device, single-purpose, and run on closed systems do not enhance our lives. They can even be gimmicky.

The real challenge will be to ‘connect’ those brains. This is why Dassault Systèmes is developing powerful solutions for the internet of experiences that permit manufacturers, communication providers and users to see, analyse, dashboard, program and optimise their ‘things’ from within one simple, visual environment. Our solutions enable companies to track and understand customers specific behaviours in order to offer meaningful and personalised experiences.

The internet of things, as it is being built today, is an internet of smart things that don’t always live up to their name. When companies that build the ‘things’ fail to meet customer experience demands, the internet of things is destined to stumble and fall. On the other hand, businesses that take an ‘experience thinking’ approach genuinely enhance people’s lives. They are reaping the rewards of the internet of experiences.

In the high tech industry, our customers work with us on enabling what we call High-Tech 3C Experiences: the ‘Connected’, ‘Contextual’ and ‘Continuous’ experiences:

  • Connected: it becomes common practice for companies to embed sensors, actuators and network connectivity in their products, thus realising the potential of connecting products, nature and life.
  • Contextual: as a result of this constant connectivity, the product can dynamically adapt its behaviour, the content it exposes, the services it offers, and realises the promise of an individualised and highly customisable experience.
  • Continuous: companies want to keep a constant contact with their customers to grow loyalty and repurchase, in order to deliver the promise of evergreen delightful experiences.

Beyond the Internet of Things

Ultimately, this is all about connecting, contextualising and continuously delivering the necessary software, applications, content and services that make the overall experience of the end user delightful and efficient. This covers everyone from designers, machine operators in manufacturing plants to individual consumers in their car or in their kitchen.

The internet of experience continuously enriches and improves an evergreen experience, in which products learn from its environment and from its usage and adapt accordingly. It enables the simple and seamless connection of smart objects – be it large industrial equipment or small smart medical devices – to other objects. This makes it possible to create a swarm of connected objects and to develop a true ecosystem in which the value of services delivered constantly improves.

Furthermore, the internet of experience is also enabling the rapid evolution of an economy in which people own products and objects to an economy where they use them, based on their needs, on-demand. It allows the development of new value added services, and a larger footprint for brands and companies who can then reach out to new audiences and markets, while also ensuring a very strong traceability of product usage. Companies can continuously learn, adapt, enrich and develop new content, services and a next generation of products. This is achieved by tapping into the intelligence gained from the large set of data coming from real time usages.

Working with our customers and partners, Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform truly bridges the world of ‘digital/virtual’ and the world of ‘physical/real’. It allows continuous experience value creation, leveraging the power of the model-based systems engineering capabilities. It is also the only multi-scale, internet of things-aware environment that enables the system modeling and the simulation of connected experiences concurrently and seamlessly.

A notable example is Miele, who are aiming to change the experience of owning a home appliance through connectivity. As part of the KogniHome project, Miele – in collaboration with universities and other companies – is investigating how intelligent applications can be of benefit in the kitchen. The aim is to create an ecosystem that helps create a greater level of comfort and spontaneity for consumers.

Dassault Systèmes’ uniqueness is to provide virtually-enriched experiences and reality-enriched design. On the one hand, we provide access to 3D data and bill of material in the context of product usage; on the other hand we allow better product design based on insights gained from real usage. With sharing one platform, companies can invent (virtually validate ‘internet of experience ready’ design), run (digitally augmented operations), learn (real time experience optimisation) and improve (accurate data enriched simulation).


To find out more, visit our High Tech website or read the Compass Mag article ‘Beyond the IoT‘.



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