According to a primary research study of 200 IoT decision makers with industrial companies, about 85 percent of them collect data from sensors on their equipment or equipment they install at customer sites.
Industrial companies may be further along with the Internet of Things (IoT) than most other companies because they have, since the 1970s, grown increasingly reliant on industrial automation. This automation really consisted of machinery equipped with programmable logic controllers (PLCs) networked together. Usually, data from this networked equipment was sent to the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system to monitor, schedule or control manufacturing processes.
IoT focused on the plant floor
Most use this data for condition-based maintenance or industrial automation but only 16 percent have integrated data from these connected devices with enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, the transactional backbone of the company. Only a few more can view IoT data in asset performance management software, which helps executives manage the total value produced by and cost of operating capital assets. This means that the transformative value of IoT is restricted in many companies to the plant floor.
While industrial automation and smarter maintenance are desirable, the people making decisions about the direction of the company are cut off from real-time data, and the ability to use IoT to operationalize their decisions. So, companies intent on using IoT data to influence their operation at a fundamental level, driving significant change through digital transformation, will need to figure out a way to close this IoT-enterprise gap.
IFS has long been focused on helping our customers get past this barrier. We were perhaps the first enterprise software company to successfully work with data in the MIMOSA standard, enabling equipment and business event information to flow between IFS Applications and connected devices. Many of our customers running IFS Applications or IFS Field Service Management are taking advantage of our open, service-oriented architecture to do just that.
However, even condition-based maintenance, when done right with IoT, has the potential to deliver digital transformation benefits.
“Study data suggest that the most common use case for IoT in these industrial settings is condition-based maintenance. The benefits go beyond operational improvements and maintenance cost avoidance,” said Ralph Rio, Vice President of Enterprise Software at ARC Advisory Group.
“It increases uptime that provides additional capacity for increased revenue. It also avoids unplanned downtime that interrupts production schedules causing missed shipment dates and customer satisfaction issues. When married to demand and scheduling systems in ERP, IoT becomes a revenue-enhancement tool improving the top line.”
IoT for field service management is here
The survey sample was heavily loaded with industrial manufacturers, HVAC contractors and automation companies, some of whom are monitoring equipment they sell to their customers to support aftermarket service. According to the study, they are focusing these efforts on individual components in a machine that may be mission critical or prone to failure, or equipment health of an individual machine rather than an entire installed system or asset. Relatively few, however, used IoT to capture data from service vehicles or devices carried by technicians, suggesting a disconnect between condition monitoring and service execution. Lacking integration with enterprise software, it may also be difficult for these service organizations to automate response to equipment fault data or provide analysis to customers of system performance against service level agreements (SLAs).
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