Team not sold on IIOT? Here’s how you can advocate for it
This article is part of a series addressing the most pressing concerns manufacturers have when it comes to Industry 4.0 and Industrial IoT solutions. In the rapidly changing manufacturing technology space, it can be difficult to distinguish valuable solutions and approaches from shiny objects and short-term thinking.
Being Fearful is Valid, But Being Late Can Cost You
So, your team isn’t ready for IIoT?
New technology is always met with a degree of skepticism, and that’s not always a bad thing. If this is the barrier you’re facing, it helps to understand why so you can arrive at a path forward.
Fear of being an early adopter of nascent technology, or the comfort associated with existing technology can cause manufacturers to be hesitant. Maybe it’s an exec who looks at IIoT as a silver bullet, an entrenched culture of operators who don’t want a ‘big brother’ watching over them, or an overtaxed IT department wary of putting itself out of work.
But given the growth and maturity of IIoT solutions, that skepticism can quickly turn into playing “catch up” with competitors who seized the value generation of IIoT first.
For a successful deployment of new technology like IIoT, there’s always a need for an internal champion to convince the team that this is the right direction.
How You Can Advocate for IoT
You’re sure to be met with skepticism and seemingly valid points on why IoT should not be a focus for your team, or at the very least why it’s not a focus right now.
If you are in agreement with the way we and other manufacturing leaders look at the market, you’re well aware of the impact of leveraging accurate, real-time production data to guide your operation and drive continuous improvement. This is exactly what an IoT Platform like MachineMetrics does.
Selling this internally is not always easy, but below we dive into the most common objections you will hear from your team, and how you can counter them effectively.
The Leadership Team Doesn’t See the Need for an IoT Platform
Your company leadership cares about efficiency. All executives do. But most companies still operate on gut feel alone. Managers always feel their experience gives them insights that others may not have. While experience is valuable, what happens when that “gut feel” is based on incorrect assumptions?
If you ask those same execs what the current equipment utilization is, they’ll probably rate it much higher than it is. Assumptions of 60-80% are not uncommon. In reality, most companies have a machine utilization far lower, around 30%.
These gut feelings and experiences are so far off base because they lack visibility. Access to data leads to the awareness of massive inefficiencies. These inefficiencies affect every component of a company’s operations, from an inability to drive process improvements and difficulty justifying capital expenditures to unexpected machine failures that cause significant downtime and production losses.
You can use these arguments to get leadership’s attention. It also helps them understand that while manufacturing generates the most data of any significant world industry, it’s still the least digitized. This reality presents a vast opportunity to manufacturers who are bold enough to tap into that data to mine its value.
Management Hates Spending Money or Doesn’t Have the Budget
Manufacturing is capital and labor-intensive, requiring substantial startup costs and a long-term ROI. Because of this, manufacturing leaders are understandably hesitant to get locked into expensive contracts, especially when the value hasn’t been proven.
A great counter to this is that a SaaS model doesn’t add to capital expenditures. Subscription-based SaaS models are much less restrictive than on-premise solutions and can be rolled into operating costs. A company has the freedom to start with the functionality they want to pick the “low-hanging fruit” and then scale as value quickly becomes apparent.
With MachineMetrics’ quick and easy implementation, we’ve seen customers achieve ROI in as little as five days. By collecting data, you can see the value being delivered, helping to mitigate a budget that is already stretched thin. For this reason alone, we urge you to think about what it’ll cost if you try to make a bargain option work or don’t pursue an initiative at all.
In the case of the former, many competing companies will talk a big game about machine monitoring capabilities. But their solutions tend to be inflexible, unscalable, and inefficient. These drawbacks are due to restrictions such as proprietary software that isn’t interoperable with other programs (because they want you to buy that too).
Also, they may not offer a turnkey platform, leaving devices and connectivity to your overtaxed IT department yet again. Combined, these issues promote even more inefficiency.
In the case of not pursuing an initiative at all, consider the reality. Right now, your machines are generating hundreds of data points every millisecond. These data points tell a story of what’s happening now, what has happened, and what’s going to happen next. This data is a gold mine of untapped insights. In fact, the average MachineMetrics customer sees a 20% increase in manufacturing efficiency within the first month of deployment.
Operators Think They’ll Be Replaced by Technology
People fear change when they don’t see or understand how much benefit they’ll receive. MachineMetrics empowers your operators to make better, faster decisions and deliver high-quality parts on time, eliminating the tedious work that inhibits their productivity.
The key is helping them see that the system isn’t being deployed to eliminate jobs – it’s being deployed to give them the tools to work smarter. With a better understanding of machine, individual, and shift performance, incentives can be created to reward increased efficiency.
These incentive programs are more effective than traditional incentives because the inefficiency has been improved to the point that the operator is competing for excellence and not efficiency. These programs also ensure personal accountability by shifting competition from one another to competing against reliable benchmarks based on actual data.
The Technical Resources Don’t Exist In-House
Most manufacturing companies have spent many years and countless dollars on IT staff, infrastructure, and maintenance. In many companies, there’s a pervasive sense that IT is always and forever overworked.
With MachineMetrics, you don’t need technical resources. Most customers quickly install the system themselves and get connected with out-of-the-box functionality. Our staff can help with installations when needed, but our user interface leverages easy-to-read out-of-the-box reports and dashboards with no coding required, making installation a simple process.
This Level of Visibility Feels Like ‘Big Brother’
Manufacturing companies have always tried to monitor labor effectiveness. If the shop floor could run at maximum efficiency and effectiveness through manual monitoring, managers wouldn’t be needed. But factories are complex environments. Most of the culprits driving inefficiency are related to inadequate SOPs, factory layout, WIP and inventory protocols, staging, and training.
The key is managing these variables with superior accountability that leads to action. With MachineMetrics, this accountability extends to operators, shop floor supervisors, management, and the entire operation.
Because data helps managers understand machine operator efficiency, they can improve productivity to benefit the operator. These actions may include reallocating labor for low and high-skilled job requirements based on the complexity of jobs in the queue. It can also point to operator overburden or the need to move equipment and staging to eliminate bottlenecks.
MachineMetrics ensures that expectations are realistic by helping develop more accurate performance benchmarks. With accurate work standards for jobs, setups, and cycle times, manufacturers have a better overall understanding of the expected production performance. Without this data to develop accurate work standards, they’ll have no way of knowing if operators perform at a high or low utilization level.
What’s The Worst That Can Happen?
Subscription and cloud-based SaaS platforms like ours offer flexibility, scalability, and pay-as-you-go value. The platform provides out-of-the-box functionality that can be deployed with results often available in minutes. It requires less IT and operator training because the system is both intuitive and deployable across any OEM machine or vintage.
SaaS systems are transforming manufacturing and unlocking value through the power of IIoT. We realize that our system must deliver value before you make a long-term commitment. With most customers realizing value in just days or months, you can quickly confirm the assessed value for yourself and your team.