The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) brings the ideas of the future into your company now. Automation, machine optimization, and connectivity insights between locations, vendors, or customers are all possible with IIoT. Despite these many possibilities, there are manufacturers whose attempts to bring the future into their factories have just not worked out; there are also those who have been too hesitant to try. According to a recent survey conducted by Microsoft, 30 percent of IoT projects fail before moving beyond the proof-of-concept stage. When the cost of these undertakings is considered along with such statistics, it’s easy to understand the hesitation. But those companies are not yours.
It’s no longer a question of whether or not IIoT needs to be utilized in factories; it does. Manufacturing in this new decade requires it thanks to things like remote working, supply chain issues, global operations, a deficit in skill sets, customer proximity, and more. Employing IIoT tools means that you can ensure product quality, reduce cost and waste, optimize processes and practices, and have the most up-to-date data and information. New levels of quality control, efficiency, and data analytics will help your company soar.
While all businesses and projects are unique, the challenges that IIoT can produce are similar. So what are these challenges and how can they be avoided?
- The inability to acquire the right skill set
For many team members, this level of technology and machine data are completely new ventures, and the expertise and skill are lacking in many businesses. This isn’t surprising when we consider the relative youth of IIoT. While costly, additional training or the hiring of outside help may be necessary, at least until your team acquires the necessary skills.
- A lack of leadership support
Like all changes and implementations, they won’t thrive unless they are thoroughly supported by management. Change brings struggle and disruption, but also delivers process improvement while introducing new possibilities. If leadership doesn’t cultivate a confidence and excitement for these changes, the people expected to use the new technologies day in and out won’t either.
- Connectivity issues
Your business generates a massive amount of critical data, and when we think about the proximity of the many team members needing access to it, it’s important that there’s infrastructure to handle communicating that information. Data communications and industrial automation systems are not new, but many were initially implemented for closed-looped control tasks only where connectivity within the same building isn’t a challenge. However, things get complicated beyond the four walls. Businesses have found that connection through systems like Ethernet are cumbersome and costly, while some industrial settings don’t even have the topography for such wiring. Despite having a plethora of wireless technologies to select from, not all of them can handle arduous industrial environments. This is especially true for larger enterprises when considering distance, penetration levels, interference, as well as power consumption and network scalability.
- Integration issues
Legacy operational technology and IT systems often hinder IIoT integrations. This is often because existing platforms have a hard time communicating due to age or need for an upgrade. This is similar to phone apps, where an updated app may temporarily not work correctly until the phone operating system is also updated. It can also be challenging to add new data to the old when the systems aren’t compatible, which means that some of the predictions won’t be accurate. This begs the question as to whether your business may require a bigger technology overhaul. Upgrading business tools such as your ERP system will help make your investment in IIot much more worthwhile.
- Security issues
Unfortunately, IIoT cannot be discussed without considering security concerns. A breach could mean massive data, financial, and/or operational damages. This is another reason why some companies are leery to take on this kind of project. While security concerns are a deterrent, there are solutions to those concerns. First, be sure to select an IIoT architecture with built-in end-to-end security. Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is a proven security mechanism for non-IP, low-power connectivity. When using internet-based connections, Transport Layer Security is a highly suggested cryptographic protocol in the industry. Another suggestion that will circumvent attempts to remotely control machines via reverse communications is to employ one-way connectivity to assemble data from automation systems. Should you choose an on-premise data storage option in order to avoid security concerns, use a privately managed network.
The narrative on your IIoT implementation need not be dire. Consider and learn both from the mistakes of some, as well as the success of others. Think about a realignment of data infrastructure to ensure that you are prepared to process an endless influx of high-velocity data input. This data might be sent from various connected devices across a number of distant locations, and it will likely arrive in a wide variety of formats. Despite all of these variables, the data must be captured, processed, and analyzed in milliseconds so that you are guaranteed the most accurate information and insights when making decisions.
By learning from what has worked for others while adopting strategies that will move your critical data to the forefront, your implementation story can be one of great success. Godlan consultants can help you realize how data can change your business in ways you never realized. Through Infor Syteline ERP and various IIoT tools, let Godlan help bring your business into the future. Visit www.Godlan.com or call 586.464.4400 for more information today.