How The Industrial IoT and the Generational Shift to Big Data Analytics Will Radically Improve Supply Chains

We’ve already witnessed decades of improvement made possible by instrumenting factories, job sites, warehouses, public spaces, transportation systems and more. In its current state, Industrial IoT solutions have led to natural benefits and big wins, especially in “Industry 4.0” applications. That said, we’ve only just begun to experience the full potential of connected manufacturing and the supply chain that comes before products are built — and the supply chain that comes after those products are built and brought to market. The key to unlocking massive gains, whether in productivity and operational cost control, or in creating and selling more competitive products, is data. Big data. Big data that can be pumped into existing ERP and other systems and can be analyzed in real time and in the aggregate for longer views. Here are five ways IIoT can dramatically improve performance and business results in supply chains and logistics supporting those supply chains, and how the data generated today and tomorrow can lead to clear and immediate ROI. Sensors improve the performance and maintenance of industrial machines, which are often expensive and complex, difficult to replace, and often have a lifespan of 10–20 or more years. By equipping industrial machinery with sensors and connectivity, companies can manage those machines using software platforms, gathering real time data to schedule maintenance and to avoid costly downtime, to schedule workloads as more and more factories are working 24/7, and to assess output and identify ways of improving that output. By harnessing machine data, operators have insights into equipment that is breaking down, under performing, causing a possible safety risk and other patterns. When data from the IIoT platform can be easily shipped into existing systems, including factory automation systems, even greater value can be created. Not having a replacement part available for a piece of critical factory equipment can bring entire production lines to complete halts. By instrumenting the replacement part supply inventory, operators understand gaps in replacement parts, or overstocks, which can help also control the costs of procurement and support “just-in-time” planning.

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