“Hey, Shelby. Order light bulbs. And pizza.”
Voice recognition software, one-click ordering and the Internet of Things (IoT) are setting high expectations for how easy it can be to monitor your home and manage your personal life.
Those expectations are carried over to the plant floor. At the core, the processes are the same – but with the complexities inherent in making things (different lines and locations; disparate systems and networks), it’s a bigger and more costly investment to take full advantage of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to reap the rewards it offers.
When’s a good time to connect?
Companies driven by fast-changing consumer demands, like food and beverage makers, soon won’t have a choice about connectivity; it will be essential to stay competitive.
Some companies have a much longer path to get from where they are now to where they need to be, to improve productivity and efficiency.
I’ve been to more than one food and beverage plant in the past year that still used paper and pencil to record data. The current workforce is comfortable with these analog processes. Getting those companies from spreadsheets to a connected enterprise will take more than promises.
And that’s why the home example is such a good one: it’s easy to see how a connected home can deliver time savings and value; it can even connect people. Likewise, a connected enterprise yields more useful data; connected people use that data to make better decisions.
Workforce productivity imperative
“Hey Shelby, how many mixers are online?”
There’s software behind the answer to that question, part of information-enabled smart manufacturing – and it’s creating new opportunities to better understand operations. This is how plants improve real-time collaboration, continuously optimize processes and keep moving forward.
With wireless and mobility technologies, industrial organizations can capture and access data from anywhere, and securely share it. Access to real-time data that’s contextualized and relevant to the work being performed creates frictionless productivity.
And here’s why that’s important: an app that increases productivity by even 33 seconds per hour – for a plant with 2,000 people – can move the needle by $1.4 million a year. The size of the team really doesn’t matter; it’s how fast the people using the app can improve productivity. In many cases, it’s instant.
You can mix the ingredients together to improve your production at work, like you do at home.
“Hey, Shelby. Order maintenance on the number two mixer. And order ice cream, please.”