Case of connected manufacturing—the way forward for an integrated ecosystem

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The connected factory as it exists today communicates within the plant network and is connected internally—automated machines are not interacting with each other and other devices, sensors and things.

Connected Manufacturing goes beyond application of digital technologies to the production process. Organizations driving towards Connected Manufacturing are closely linking their Operational Technology with Information technology – so that plants, processes, products, partners and customers are connected.

Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) is revolutionializing manufacturing and enterprise doesn’t want to lag behind in taking advantage of connectivity to drive inefficiencies out of their systems and uncover new business opportunities.

Drivers for connected manufacturing

1.       Improve operational efficiency – Most manufacturers already have a large array of sensors and actuators as part of machine-specific control systems, but largely they are un-connected. Traditionally the data architecture was built neither for real-time analysis either at the central level or at the edge nor for the storage. Legacy systems were built for control, data display, and anomaly detection. Manufacturing plants are now looking to equip these control systems with connectivity to collect historical and real-time data from multiple systems for analysis and to augment control systems with new IoT systems. This will enable

·         Improving mean time between failures (MTBF) and reducing mean time to repair (MTTR) -Predictive analytics capability that could predict equipment failure before it happens allowing for  pre-emptive maintenance

·         Increasing Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) – Build a holistic view of manufacturing efficiency across the shop floor

·         Increased visibility to gain monitor and control everything – Real time performance dashboards to provide a comprehensive picture of the whole system

2.       Improve Supply Chain process – Supply chain owners need to gain visibility and multiple views of production data across multiple integrated factories, making it easier to roll out new product lines and respond to changing business demands more quickly. Connected supply chain would enable

·         Assets and Inventory Tracking: Monitor shipments, including both movement and integrity to improve forecast accuracy & Inventory turns.

·         Connect both the end of supply chain to the shop floor to improve planning accuracy.

·         Use Connected Products To Enhance The Customer Experience – reduced production outages and faster time to market

3.       Enhance The Customer Experience – Smart connected products comes with a embedded sensors with software’s and data storage capability that transmit data on product performance and  to a central and remote IIoT platform where this data is linked with data from other devices and external and enterprise systems to drive insights , decision making and value for business. IoT unlocks the opportunity to know the performance of products, customer experience and what and when services are required.

4.       New Product Development and Innovation – Enterprises can realize increased success rate of new Product development with Product designers and developers having access to data and insights that are comprehensive, accurate and timely. It will enable development of products that perform better, potentially cost less and, most importantly, and are aligned with actual customer needs.


The business and technology environment continues to change at an accelerating pace. Technology needs to facilitate collaboration, business insight, and secure information sharing across the organization’s extended network of customers, partners, and suppliers. In shifting from established paradigms of existing business systems to the transformation necessary to move forward – the challenges faced by the enterprise may include

Safety & Security – With connected devices and physical controls security precautions are becoming increasingly important. IIoT devices will need to intercommunicate with existing controllers, automation and manufacturing information networks, and applications. Any ‘thing’ or device that is controlled by network communication and is exposed to the Internet is vulnerable to being hacked,” Therefore, existing security policies and approaches will need to be adapted to embrace these new IIoT security challenges.

Interoperability – For the IIoT to work, all devices must be able to connect seamlessly and standards are important in connecting the diverse and disparate devices. If devices from different manufacturers do not use the same protocols, interoperability will be more difficult, requiring extra gateways to translate from one standard to another.  IOT partners will need to build devices according to an agreed-upon open standard that can be evaluated independently in an effort to confirm that only the expected hardware, software, or firmware is included.”

Adaptability and scalability – The future cannot be accurately predicted – however the organizations should invest in network of systems flexible enough to evolve and adapt. Industrial Internet components need to be built with maintenance and updates in mind. The IIoT comes with disparate devices, information, and platforms from a multiple partners. The way forward is a platform-based approach that allows multiple device monitoring, application development and data management simple.

The approach

The key technology elements that builds the foundation for connected manufacturing includes Network, Data Analytics, Security, Sensors, Software, computing model and not to mention people empowerment backed by a  strong end-to-end enterprise architecture function.

A step by step approach “Small but Big” is important. Pilot with eco system would be required to establish proof of concept and demonstrate business value to build credentials with business owners. This can help the organization to move from strategy to prototyping and scaling as fast as possible.

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