- By Mike Bradford
- May 25, 2023
There is real power in IIoT and MOM (Manufacturing Operations Management), but business leaders must understand how to get the most out of these two capabilities working together to propel their business to the next level.
There’s no getting away from it: the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is a topic everyone is talking about at the moment, and there’s good reason for it. There is real power in IIoT and MOM (Manufacturing Operations Management), but business leaders must understand how to get the most out of these two capabilities working together to propel their business to the next level.
Manufacturing bosses are tasked with squeezing every ounce of performance out of their overall operation on a yearly basis. With outside factors such as supply chain issues and the recovery from Covid playing a pivotal role in the performance of manufacturers around the globe, it’s essential that connected applications and IIoT are maximised to mitigate external issues.
The key to maximizing the value that your business can get out of connected technology is being able to contextualize the information you have gathered. In other words, just collecting and seeing the information isn't enough, it has to be contextualized and then formed into an actionable plan. From a business perspective, you have to then be able to take action on the information that you have gathered, and that's where the MOM side of the equation becomes powerful.
Take for example the 3DEXPERIENCE from DELMIA, as a MOM solution, it is capable of communicating with all manner of devices, using all sorts of different communication protocols. It also contains the logic to say, when this happens, you want to take this action. A “What-if” scenario. This type of solution gives business owners actionable advice they can act upon to improve their entire operation and overall efficiency.
Let’s say something as simple as SPC (Statistical Process Control). One of the rules of SPC is, if you see a result trending in the same direction for four different measures in a row, this indicates a problem is going to occur. Even if it's still within acceptable limits, the fact that it's going in the same direction four times in a row is an indicator that there's going to be a problem.
At that point, it’s important to monitor the SPC information and alert your team to potentially stop whatever process it is collecting, as changes will be required. With any sort of IIoT information, whether it's the temperature on a furnace or the number of cycles on a machine, it is essential to not only be able to identify any issues, but also be in a position to take action and automate solutions where possible. Anytime there's human intervention required, you'll slow down the process of automation. And whilst there will invariably be a point where a human will need to intervene, you want to do as much automatically as possible, as this enables your business to work in the leanest way possible.
Can IIoT and connected technology be used across various industries?
IIoT and connected technology are not just limited to the manufacturing industry, as they can generally be used in any industry that utilises machines on a larger scale. You know if you're talking about an industry that's highly automated with a lot of machines and equipment and robotics devices, then IIoT and connected technology are going to be more useful there than in a manual assembly line.
There aren't that many applications that are fully manual anymore anyway, almost every type of manufacturing has some level of automation. Moreover, any level of automation at all can become valuable when connected to the right types of technology, that can help to better inform your business decisions moving forward.
What about return on investment for IIoT and connected technology?
It’s no secret that business owners are always keen on ensuring that they can attribute an ROI to anything they invest in, and that’s no different with IIoT and connected technology in MOM.
In years gone by, everybody talked about predictive maintenance using IIoT to collect data about equipment and then predict when there was going to be a failure before happened, and so, then you avoid it. You would increase key measures or activity and efficiency and you decrease downtime. Those all have value but, that's not the only applicable area anymore.
Back to our SPC example, you can significantly improve your quality statistics. Using IIoT devices to automatically measure, alongside a solution to evaluate and react when things appear to be going out of control or going out into quality specification, is a great way to ensure you're reducing your total cost of production downtime. Regarding quality, you're improving your quality measures such as Right First Time so there's significant value to this depending on the application where you use it.
The key to IIoT is that a lot of the processing can take place at the device or near the device. People talk about cloud applications, such as MOM and MES. But the issue with cloud applications is the latency between the actual application and the devices because anytime you're going over the Internet there's a certain amount of latency.
A couple of years ago many within the industry discussed, what they call, a “fog layer.” A fog layer is a layer of intelligence and architecture that still sits at the plant. It eliminates that latency issue between your IIoT devices and your cloud application. You can have a fog layer that takes care of the near term, which essentially means it’s more urgent. You need quick response calculations, playing out calculation’s execution and so forth. And then you can pass pertinent data up to the cloud for processing or to a data lake for analytics. This is another place where MOM can be valuable because in our MOM solution we provide this capability. The MOM software from DELMIA can provide that fog layer, so rather than having the full MOM application on-premise, you can have the fog layer as a component of our MOM application on-premise, while the main server can be on the Cloud or at a Data Center. You have then taken advantage of IIoT and fog and Cloud.
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