Don’t be fooled into thinking that IIoT alone is enough to meet Industry 4.0 goals

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Industry 4.0 technology vector illustration

Don’t be fooled into thinking that IIoT alone is enough to meet Industry 4.0 goals

Every single industrial organization is at risk. The competition — at home and globally — has discovered the value of IIoT to create new business models, to enable and empower the workforce, to establish new operational efficiencies, and so much more. The fact is, if you aren’t moving forward and getting better, you’re falling behind.

The pace of technology change forces businesses to make constant improvement a core competency. With global competition, new materials and manufacturing methods, and a whole new generation of consumers and employees that have grown up around and expect technology at their fingertips, a company that doesn’t have some form of continuous improvement (CI) or business process improvement approach will find itself irrelevant in short order.

That’s not to say that continuous improvement is a guarantee of survival. On the contrary, CI benefits are stagnant, with most companies simply happy to achieve 1-2% annual improvements. These are the organizations that are well-positioned to leverage digital technology for more dramatic improvements. Firms that maximize their Lean, Six Sigma, or other continuous improvement programs with next-generation technologies will make faster, more informed decision-making a competitive advantage.

Consider this: most executives intuitively see the potential for the IIoT to enable multiple use cases, including improved asset reliability, optimized production operations, increased product quality, remote monitoring, or enabling new business models, just to name a few. In fact, 40% of companies already launched an IIoT initiative by 2017 and another 24% were in the planning stages. By adding the power and potential of the IIoT to CI, companies – and your competitors – will compound and accelerate the value on both fronts. Those who take advantage of the opportunity will outpace the market, and those who delay will find it difficult or impossible to close the gap.

Industry 4.0 strategies are no longer aspirational. There are leading organizations that invested heavily and early on; they are now poised to deliver tens or hundreds of millions of dollars of impact over the next three to five years — through cost savings, faster new product introductions (NPI), entirely new offerings, or some combination of those. We’re already able to examine and learn from those early adopters — not just the upside, but which mistakes to avoid and how to overcome common challenges.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that IIoT alone is enough to meet Industry 4.0 goals. To realize the all the potential benefits, companies must also apply continuous improvement across business processes, the appropriate technology and a well-trained and committed workforce.

In fact, we have not found a single company that achieved success with just technology. Nearly every one of them would likely all tell you what you already know: that shop floor technology is notoriously difficult to implement and must be combined with a mature set of people and process best practices. The common denominator for success is a commitment to Operational Excellence; it must have a prominent role for Digital Transformation success.

Download the “Continuous Improvement: Reinvent Lean Today with Digital Technology” eBook to learn how companies can apply the IIoT and digitalize processes to drive faster, longer lasting improvement. Many continuous improvement processes today are manual and paper-based. While this will certainly shift with the IIoT, we don’t simply assume that everything will become fully automated. Most Lean processes are all about people; the IIoT will support the people where it makes sense, so they can continuously improve.

The IIoT combined with supporting data from Edge to Cloud and Big Data analytics is a perfect platform on which to implement Lean processes. It will make all the data from across the enterprise available and deliver key functionality such as augmented reality (AR) / virtual reality (VR) and security.

This eBook was written by LNS Research and sponsored by PTC.

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