The digital transformation of the manufacturing industry is accelerating as companies increasingly turn to Internet of Things (IoT) technology to improve efficiency and address general factory challenges. But even if your company makes high-tech products and has a large IT team, designing and deploying an IoT solution that realizes improvements in your processes or services is no small undertaking.

To support us, we start the What I wish I knew Series of videos where manufacturing executives share firsthand insights into best practices and common pitfalls to avoid as they navigate setting up and deploying successful IoT solutions – and how they have used them Microsoft Azure IoT technology to simplify the process.

Adding IoT technology to your manufacturing or industrial operation and expecting immediate results doesn’t just happen without careful planning. In the words of Scott Gravelle, CEO and Chief Technology Officer of AttaboticsBringing specific expertise together and then integrating the right technology into your operation requires “complexity of orchestration”. Below, leaders share their insights into the opportunities that exist for using IoT in manufacturing, as well as advice on addressing common challenges through appropriate research, decision-making, and technical expertise.

New trends in manufacturing IoT

Manufacturers increasingly see IoT as a competitive necessity. By 2025, 50 percent of industrial companies will use Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platforms to improve factory operations, up from 10 percent in 2020 gardener. Newly surveyed manufacturers Microsoft IoT signal report Industrial automation, production planning, scheduling as well as quality and compliance are the main reasons for the introduction of IoT solutions. Among the discrete manufacturers, production flow monitoring is the most commonly reported use.

Remote monitoring and predictive maintenance are still the most common uses of IoT devices in manufacturing. However, the onset of COVID-19 has further proven the use of IoT and related tools that enable remote operation and automation. IoT networks are evolving into interconnected ecosystems that allow operators to collect and respond to more data, even when they are miles from a factory or office building.

The availability of new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), smarter edge computing and digital twins as an integral part of IoT solutions opens up new opportunities for companies to develop innovative solutions. Azure IoT offers these technologies to enable operators to remotely control building systems, devices and more via 3D digital models. Combined with intelligent edge computing and AI’s ability to analyze large amounts of information and images, understand language, and make automated decisions and predictions, agile, networked factory systems can be created that learn and adapt to operations to maximize.

Valuable lessons from others’ IoT adoption

The promise of more functions, more efficiency and the ability to offer customers new services through IoT solutions is real, but the path to digital transformation requires the right steps from the start. The one in the What I wish I knew about video series Indicate what technology decision makers should consider in the earliest stages.

Have realistic goals and expectations

Right from the start, says Stuart Bashford, digital officer for the Bühler GroupYou should have “a very, very clear understanding of why you are doing this and what you want to achieve.” You need to have concrete ideas on how IoT can improve your operations before you decide on platforms and solutions. To get into this stage, you need to research and speak to experts and potential partners about which use cases make sense for your business.

If an IoT pilot fails, learn from it and move quickly, advises Finn Mainstone, senior product manager Siemens Gamesa. “When you develop something that is really cutting edge and has never been done before, you don’t know exactly how it will turn out.”

Agree on basic standards and technological requirements

Discussing the standards and fundamental technologies required for your IoT solution is also crucial to get started, says Sudhi Bangalore, CTO for global operations at Stanley Black & Decker. “I wish we had spent more time planning these standards better. Because in some cases we had to relax and go back and fix things because the standards weren’t set right. “

Similarly, Mainstone adds, locking down technical details from the beginning of a solution development saves time and money in the long run.

Get the buy-in from your managers and employees

The involvement of your employees from the top managers in the factory is just as important as the new technology. “We understand and realize that we can’t do anything with our digital solutions if we don’t make the same effort to manage these human relationships,” says Bashford. “I hear stories of companies trying to go through digital transformation without having any support at the top and it must be very difficult.”

Francisco Sanchez, CIO at Fermaxrecommends investing in training and getting employees at all levels interested and excited about the introduction of IoT technology. While many of his technology team members didn’t have a thorough understanding of IoT and cloud capabilities when they first started planning their solutions, it was gratifying to see how willing they were to learn.

Learn more about the introduction and solutions of Azure IoT

The video series What I wish I knew provides tons of insight into optimizing IoT rollout, potential challenges, and how digital transformation can improve manufacturing operations, from creating connected factories to improving supply chain visibility to customer loyalty in new ways. More details on Azure IoT products and services that can transform manufacturing will be presented by Microsoft at the annual meeting Hanover fair event12-16 April 2021.

In addition, the Azure Industrial IoT side provides insights into how our IoT platform can support manufacturing-specific solutions while the Azure IoT overview gives a broader overview of the possibilities of the technology.

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