My O’Reilly blog post about how the IoT will transform manufacturing

Posted on 29th April 2014 in 3-D printing, Internet of Things, M2M, manufacturing

Woopiedoo! I have a post in today’s O’Reilly SOLID blog (which is, among other things, promoting their SOLID conference in SF next month) about how the Internet of Things will transform manufacturing.

In it, I emphasized the manufacturing variation on the two transformative aspects of the IoT that I think will characterize its effect on every aspect of our lives and economy:

  1. for the first time, we will have real-time information on the current state of all sorts of things
  2. we will also be able to share that information, again, on a real-time basis, with everyone who could benefit from that information.

We’re already starting to see signs of that transformation, with GE’s Durathon battery factory (with 10,000 sensors on the assembly line plus others designed into the batteries themselves), SAP’s Future Factory, and Siemens’ Electronic Works factory.  As the price, size and energy demands of sensors continues to plummet, the trend will accelerate.

As a result, manufacturing will no longer be isolated from real-time activities in the rest of the enterprise:

  • “Designing sensors into products, rather than adding them on retroactively, will allow companies to identify defective products immediately, rather than waiting for post-production testing.
  • The built-in sensors will also allow companies to create new revenue streams. They will be able to sell customers real-time data on product operations that will allow the customers to optimize their use, and they may also choose, instead of selling the products, to lease them, with the price determined dynamically based on how much the product is actually used — take, for instance, jet turbines that are now priced on the basis of how many hours they actually operate.
  • The product design cycle will accelerate. Companies will be able to monitor a product’s actual usage in the field, then implement more rapid upgrades.
  • ‘Just-in-time’ supply chains will become even more efficient as real-time production data triggers resupply orders, just as distribution systems will become more closely integrated on the other end of the production cycle.”

The SOLID conference focuses on the convergence of hardware and software. It’s about time the two are fully integrated, and the results will be incredible!

 

 

IoT Essential Truths: Coordination

Posted on 1st November 2013 in design, Essential Truths, Internet of Things, M2M, maintenance, management

Just as I’ve written repeatedly about one of the “Essential Truths” of the Internet of Things is that we have to learn how to collaborate, there’s another “co- word” that’s crucial to realize its full potential: coordinate!

That’s brought to mind by news from this week’s Internet of Things World Forum in Barcelona, where SAP (full disclosure: I’m working on a project for them), and SK Solutions, the global leader in anti­-collision software (heck, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as anti-collision software, let alone that SK was the leader!) have teamed to create a system helping engineering and construction companies increase collision avoidance and protect workers through real-time information sharing.

I’d never thought of it, but modern construction sites are a nightmare in terms of the need for coordination, with huge cranes, a multitude of construction vehicles, and many workers on the site.

The system, being tested at a construction site in Dubai, is gathering actionable, real-time data (historical data is pointless when so many players are interacting right now!) from mobile field workers, equipment and operational processes.

When you think of it, it’s difficult to maximize productivity and cut costs on a job site because so many operations have to be coordinated.

Here’s how it works:

“SK Solutions deploys sensors on cranes and construction vehicles to pull data such as 3­D motion control via inertial motion unit, location via GPS and load weight, equipment usage and wind speed and direction. This data is loaded first into the Navigator real­time operating system and its on­board set of applications, including collision avoidance. The data is then fed through the SK Navigator Anywhere Agent, which uses SAP technology. Site and project managers monitor the equipment via a dashboard built with SK Asteroid, which uses the SAP HANA platform, SAP® 3­D Visual Enterprise applications and SAP LumiraTM software. SK Asteroid 360 Middleware is a cloud­based platform that provides connectivity to SAP® Business Suite software.”

That leads me to another “Essential Truth” of the Internet of Things:

We have to start asking, where are there situations where real-time data from a variety of sources could help coordinate inter-related activities to improve safety & efficiency and reduce costs?

Whether it’s coordinating hospital rooms, integrating supply chains or assembly lines — even traffic flow — there are situations everywhere in which the Internet of Things can improve productivity, reduce operating costs — and even save lives.

N.B. For those who are interested in what the prefix co- really means, it’s from a Latin prefix of the same name, and means togethermutuallyjointly. Class dismissed..

survey: M2M natural evolution of “consumerization of IT”

A new survey of worldwide IT decision makers (ITDMs as the acronym goes…) by Harris Interactive for SAP includes some pretty convincing reminders that the Internet of Things (in this case the emphasis is on M2M) is as much about empowering people as it is about things.

“..most ITDMs in all six countries view M2M as the natural evolution of the ‘consumerization of IT,’ with India and China at 92 percent and 90 percent respectively. The majority of Brazilian, German, UK and US ITDMs agreed, with a combined average of 81 percent.”

A lot of mobile devices are changing everything!

A quote from Sanjay Poonen, president of SAP’s Technology Solutions and Mobile Division, neatly ties the technology and human elements together:

“Today, M2M technology is primarily being used to collect vast amounts of machine data. The ‘Internet of Things’ goes one step further by integrating data from machines, ERP, CRM systems, social media and more, in real time, allowing humans to intelligently interact with devices, devices with devices and devices back to humans – the ultimate social media collaboration of man and machine.” (I spared you the self-serving conclusion: that SAP is uniquely qualified to bring all this together..LOL.).

Other important findings include:

  • “pluralities from all six countries surveyed said that smart cities would be the coolest (now there’s a technical term…)  possible outcome of M2M: China (35 percent), Brazil (35 percent), Germany (30 percent), India (27 percent), US (25 percent) and UK (21 percent).” Come on, US
    “ITDMs”: only 25% of you agree??
  • “…an average of 70 percent of the ITDMs in all six countries surveyed agree that companies that fail to implement M2M technologies will fall behind their competitors.”
  • Companies  will gain more insight into their business: China (96 percent), India (88 percent), Brazil (86 percent), Germany (79 percent), US (74 percent) and UK (61 percent)
  • Businesses will be able to respond to real world events: China (92 percent), India (86 percent), Brazil (82 percent), Germany (82 percent), US (78 percent) and UK (73 percent)

“Those surveyed also view the following as presenting the biggest opportunities for M2M in the workplace:

  • Increased efficiency was the No. 1 response in Brazil (54 percent), UK (53 percent) and US (49 percent)
  • Increased productivity for employees was the top selection in China (69 percent), significantly higher than any other countries surveyed
  • Increased employee collaboration was the No. 1 opportunity in Germany (63 percent)
  • Increased mobility among the workforce was the biggest opportunity in India (65 percent).”

I cast my lot with the Germans: while efficiency and productivity will definitely improve, I think the real hidden bonus of M2M in the workplace will be how collaboration will increase when everyone can share the same near-real-time data!

At the same time, the respondents said there were significant obstacles to full use of M2M. As Poonen summarized:

“The benefits of M2M are undeniable but there are barriers toward the adoption of M2M solutions, such as the lack of complete multi-industry offerings, management, security and big data issues, and deficiency of suitable global connectivity solutions that are needed by multinational enterprises.”

This survey is yet more evidence, as if we needed it, that the Internet of Things is finally rising in corporate awareness — or at least among those “ITDMs!” Now the question is how many of their employers will begin to craft IoT action plans.