Internet of Things, Big Data, Innovation: Beyond The Buzz

So often you read an article focused on manufacturing that is stuffed with buzzwords like the Industrial Internet of Things or big data. Innovation is another one of these words that continue to excite and pop up in almost every piece of manufacturing content you find. Often buzz words are just plugged into a headline or article to bring readers to a page. However, when it comes to manufacturing, many of these buzzwords go beyond just an intriguing title, they are actually having a tremendous impact on the industry. We will be discussing some of the most common buzz words mentioned throughout the industry and explain how they are transforming the industry, rather than just being catchy keywords.

Internet of Things / Industrial Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) in particular, have become standard vocabulary when speaking about 21st century manufacturing. The concept of connecting physical ‘things’ to the internet is something that excited manufacturers right from the start because of the potential to increase their efficiency, as well as their ability to accumulate data on a scale never before imagined. The IoT and the IIoT has been slowly becoming a reality over the past few years but with none, or very little, of the digital infrastructure that is necessary to achieve all the benefits from this technology. Many thought, and still do think, that the IIoT is a bunch of hype that will never come to fruition and be able keep the promises technologists have made. In the past year, the IIoT has begun to take off. No more is this word just a commonly used buzz word to gain attention from the public.

The Internet of Things and Industrial Internet of Things is nearly in full swing, with more manufacturers connecting devices and equipment to capture data from all points throughout their manufacturing operation. Technology providers have been investing into solutions that will provide manufacturers an out of the box IoT service to make a seamless transition from legacy systems to IIoT connected devices. This was one of the main reasons manufacturers hesitated to begin utilizing the IIoT but now as the digital infrastructure is available to handle and process all of this data from connected devices, the IIoT is becoming a reality right in front of our eyes.

Big Data / Analytics

Data has always been an incredibly important part of the manufacturing industry. A manufacturer must know which of their products are selling and who is buying them. Manufacturers don’t want to sit on one product for years as another product always runs out of stock. The ability to capture large amounts of data and then analyze this data to offer valuable information is something that manufacturers are beginning to take very seriously. Big Data is the buzz word manufacturers and technology providers flock to when speaking about their data collection and analyzing ability.

No longer is Big Data just an attention grabbing keyword as technology providers and manufacturers are collect data from nearly every data point imaginable. That creates an enormous amount of data to be analyzed, and now the tools are available to analyze this data in real-time. From predictive analytics tools, all the way down to the GPS location of a shipped product, all of this data can be available anywhere in the world at any time, instantly. This kind of technology is vital for manufacturer’s ability to thrive in an increasingly competitive market and Big Data at the heart of it all.

Innovation

Innovation.. the word is used so often it has even begun to lose its true meaning.  Making changes to an established idea or product is the true nature of innovation. It may be overused when speaking about manufacturing, but for good reason. The manufacturing industry is an industry that has always thrived on innovative ideas and concepts. A change in a process and moving away from those dangerous words “we’ve always done it that way” has proven to be an incredible way to get ahead in this competitive market.

Manufacturers are constantly looking to improve their production methods by taking a creative approach to their shop floor. Lean manufacturing is a fantastic example of an innovative concept that has taken the manufacturing industry by storm. Each time the lean production process is improved upon, innovation is the cause. Using GPS to track packages throughout every leg of its journey until it reaches the customer is an innovative way to use this technology that was primarily used for the GPS maps in cars. The process of using technology for a purpose other than what it was intended for is innovation in action.

Take Away

Buzz words are everywhere and sometimes it’s hard to determine whether these terms are actually as important as they sound. However, when it comes to manufacturing, the past few years have proven that these attention grabbing words and phrases have become more of a reality than an exciting concept. Still, many of these technologies and processes have some maturing to do, but the foundation is there and in some cases, are already in full swing. So the next time you see a buzz word in a title, try not to roll your eyes and scroll past it, they could be talking about something that could potentially benefit your business today.