With the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT), Industrie 4.0, and other new approaches and initiatives, companies have to consider how they design the next generation of smart connected products and the factories that will produce them. Machine control and safety solutions are critical for factory of the future.
Product designers must now consider an expansion of form, fit, and function to include connectivity and intelligence to be able to leverage the IoT environment. The factories that manufacturer these products, in turn, will have to be designed to take advantage of smart connected devices, machinery, systems, and business processes. In many cases, these smart “connections” will extend well beyond the factory walls to value chain partners.
Today, manufacturers across many industrial sectors use highly automated production systems that communicate across work cells and production lines and push real-time production information to supervisory levels and business intelligence applications. Automation suppliers have developed vertical integration architectures that allow production data to flow up-ward from connected machines, production lines, work cells, and automation components to the control level (PLCs, PACs, CNCs), manufacturing operations management (MOM) level and – ultimately -- to the enterprise business level.
Suppliers and end users alike will also have to consider the impact on aftermarket services, since the smart connected products, Big Data, and predictive analytics components of the IIoT open up a new paradigm for how companies support their products and equipment via remote diagnostics, predictive analytics, and visualization “in the Cloud.” In some cases, rather than selling and supporting a physical product, a piece of equipment, or software application; suppliers will instead offer the respective functionality “as a service,” using the Internet as a delivery mechanism.
There are more choices than ever in technology, techniques, deployment architectures, and service providers. Choosing the best path forward for your particular circumstances is a daunting task and one you will need advice for. Our analysts follow all aspects of technology for Industry and Infrastructure. If you are faced with a strategic decision, and want to know the best practices, leading solutions or current issues, then you need to engage ARC for advice.