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Planning Your IIoT Journey

Written By: Amos Purdy

In the fast-evolving world today, there are a lot of discussions about IIoT and how they will revolutionize the manufacturing industry. However, the most benefit will be realized by companies who take into account the different considerations of the technology and how to utilize the full functionality. At GPA, we work with a lot of customers to help plan out their IIoT projects and/or enterprise deployments. Below are some of the key considerations we see which affect the success of most IIoT deployments.

1. Stakeholder Buy In. As the old saying goes “two heads are better than one,” so

getting everyone involved is key. Not only will stakeholder buy in give you a more

accurate vision of the problems IIoT can solve, they will push for more adoption and

acceptance of the technology’s capabilities. When you get buy in from stakeholders,

you can enjoy the freedom of imagining and deploying systems quickly and

effectively. On the other hand, if you do not have stakeholder buy in, two heads are

not better than one when there is significant time spent on arguing and justifying

the technology. A company can only fully utilize IIoT when everyone understands

and adopts the technology (“Drink the Kool-Aid” as the saying goes).

2. Establish A Goal. No matter what type of technology you are deploying, there

needs to be a clear direction and justification. This is even more important with

“newer” technologies like IIoT because everyone wants to be on the “cutting edge”

as opposed to the “bleeding edge.” We have seen many projects fail because their

justification is based on “that is what the rest of the industry is doing.” Companies

often back themselves into a corner, and IIoT gets categorized as ineffective or

(worse) -- only viable for simple tasks. To overcome this, we often try to come up

with very specific ways to evaluate (and thus justify) projects using real ROI. This can

be as simple as reducing the time it takes someone to get the information to make

decisions but driving for a direct result on the bottom line is usually more effective.

(i.e. reducing downtime and/or predictive maintenance).

3. Review. Revise. Reimagine. Once companies deploy IIoT, they often want to “set

it and forget it.” However, by the nature of the technology, IIoT devices are

continually evolving and, thus, their capabilities and possibilities are ever

expanding. Companies should plan to review the technology and any

upgrades/updates that could be utilized, revise the usage and utilization of the

technology, and reimagine how the changes can continually feed back into the

needs of the enterprise.

4. Think Toward the Future. Most industrial operations want to be capable more

than nimble. However, these are not totally exclusive goals. To be fully capable in

the future, you will need to be nimble and continually evolve. Changing economic

conditions and customer expectations require companies to think about where they

are going as much as where they currently are. IIoT can allow for an amount of

flexibility never seen in industry and should be utilized for that reason. In addition,

being effective at IIoT will allow your company a competitive advantage over

competitors still doing things the “old way.”

5. Show Off. While results will speak for themselves, other departments and/or

sites will never know how you got there unless you show them. Your company is

probably continually searching for ways to improve, and IIoT can be a game

changer. By showing how the technology can be used, your company and peers can

start to see the capabilities and possibilities of IIoT. In addition, you might be seen

as the visionary behind this exciting technology. Coming from someone that has

run an MES department, this is not a bad place to be.

While IIoT devices and capabilities are ever-evolving, I hope this article helps you plan your IIoT journey. IIoT is one of the main technologies of Industry 4.0 and has not been fully understood or utilized by most companies. We are headed into a new epoch of industrial automation, and I want to see you be a main driver.

In addition, I think we should all start to credit some of the other “heads” that help us see the true direction of this technology. For me, I’d like to thank Dave Griffith who helps me brainstorm solutions and understand the true capabilities of evolving technologies such as IIoT.

If you would like to hear more from me, please see Chris Grainger’s podcast at EECO who allowed me to discuss IIoT and its direction.

Have fun out there!


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