In the last couple of years, there has been an explosive increase in the use of IoT (Internet of Things). But still, there are many industrial companies that lag behind in adopting this new technology.
Virtually everyone is talking about digital transformation and the Internet of Things, however, there seems to be a long way from words to action. Meanwhile, it doesn’t have to be difficult to get started and experience rapid results, but the industry has to start adopting this technology now or they risk losing their competitive edge compared to those who are ready and able to adopt new technology. In this day and age, many still spend significant time and resources planning and strategizing, yet they struggle to reach their goals trying to develop large full-scale solutions right away. what they should be doing is adopting an iterative approach, developing the solution a little at a time.
Utilize data that already exist in a better way
In factories and production plants there is often a lot of equipment that generates data and information from sensors, without this data being utilized in a meaningful way. Data from industrial equipment, can and should be better utilizedd and data should be stored for future analysis. This data can be used to improve efficiency, increase safety, or analyze trends and start working preemptively instead of reactive. Extracting the data and structuring it, such that it can be utilized doesn’t need to be expensive or resource-intensive. The combination of cloud solutions and Low-Code platforms gives us a faster and more dynamic approach. The trick is to pick the low-hanging fruit first, something that is made possible by technology that provides flexibility.
Simple solution prevents downtime
This was the approach of Norderwertf in Hamburg. they had issues with the air compressors at the shipyard overheating and shutting off without any warning. This lead to operations at the yard ceasing. Therefore, they wanted a solution that allowed them to remotely monitor the compressors and receive a warning when they came close to overheating. With this solution in place, they could just start up the backup compressor in good time before the first one shuts down. The compressors were already fitted with sensors that measure heat, pressure, and capacity utilization, but until now this data only presided locally on the equipment. With a few simple steps, the required data were extracted from the compressors and uploaded to the cloud, analyzed, and presented in a phone app for the operating personnel. This way, if the temperatures on the equipment ever come close to critical the correct persons were notified via push notifications and could respond accordingly.
Many believe that IoT projects are both expensive and time-intensive, but that doesn’t have to be the case. In Norderwerft’s case, the compressors already generated the data. With that starting point, it was a short process to make the data available and present it in a user-friendly app that could be used right away. Oftentimes, it’s only a matter of days required to piece together a functional solution that generates value in the form of better control or efficiency. That IoT projects have to be costly and time-consuming is a myth.
There’s a lack of digital culture and willingness to change
There are currently tons of industrial components being produced that are IoT-ready, which means they can be connected to the internet to be remotely controlled or produce data about operating conditions such as temperature, pressure, or velocity. There is also a lot of data being generated from existing components in production plants. To be able to make use of this data it has to be collected, structured, and presented in a way that generates meaningfully value in the form of increased control, efficiency, or predictability of the process. Generally, you also want to present the data in a way that is concise and easy to understand, whether it’s on a mobile phone, tablet, desktop computer, control panel, or any combination of these. The technology is readily available, but why are companies hesitant to utilize it and the competitive advantages that digitalization can provide for them?
Most likely, the answer can be found in our tendency to overcomplicate things instead of breaking down the whole process into smaller, more manageable pieces. Lacking willingness for changes is also a large part of the challenge of the digitalization of the organization. To be able to take advantage of the opportunities the industry needs a good chunk of curiosity and an understanding that technology in large part drives future opportunities. Smarter solutions allow us the keep up with tough, global competition as well as creating competitive advantages.
Doing it yourself is not always the best idea
There are several examples of companies that try to build their own IoT solutions. Many experience difficulties developing the solution, but even more so maintaining it. Some quickly realized they would not be able to do it, while others spent years wasting both time and valuable resources before contacting an IoT provider for help.
Our advice is therefore to use providers that have cutting-edge expertise in cloud and IoT solutions instead of attempting to develop it yourself. Potential suppliers should be able to refer to concrete, successful projects they have already delivered. There is a lot of expertise in the professional IoT circles that can assist in finding good solution proposals. They possess the latest technology and know what platforms best suit your needs. In addition to this, they stay up-to-date on the latest changes in technology so that the industrial companies themselves don’t have to keep up with the rapid pace of change.
Chose a dynamic approach
Some of the technology giant Apple’s success can be accredited to how they run their projects. They adopted an “agile” approach. In simple terms, this is a dynamic way to develop new solutions by dividing all the work into small work packages to be finished one after the other. This is a very good model for companies who want to adopt IoT technology in a gradual, efficient, and clear way. Since all the development takes place step by step
The best solutions are created through open collaboration
to be successful with digitalization doesn’t depend solely on technology.
It’s just as much about finding good solutions and facilitating collaboration
between people. Openness is important to ensure that the interdisciplinary
resources are utilized to the fullest. Stimulating curiosity between
disciplines in conjunction with technological platforms inspires the best
solutions. The opportunities are there and the technology and resources already exist, so all that remains is just getting started!
Helge Kjeilen is chairman of the board at Digitread and Digitread Connect and has extensive experience from several technology firms he has helped start. Kjeilen is passionate about the Norwegian industry using digital technology to be able to work smarter and be better equipped in global competition.