The benefits of Industrial Digital Transformation include better flexibility and agility, improved productivity and efficiency, and increased profitability. IIoT & Digital Transformation also contribute on the improvement of the customer experience.
When you start an "industrial digital transformation" project or programme, the core capability you need to consider is the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). If you don’t consider IoT as a part of your technology stack then you will not totally embrace digital. In the industrial and manufacturing sectors, it’s vital to make the most of the data provided by all your systems and devices. The usefulness of this information depends on its real-time availability and reliability, allowing smart choices to be made. Integrating data to decide in an agile manner on processes and actions depends on a network infrastructure that breaks down traditional “silos of information.”
In fact, industrial digital transformation includes several technologies and capabilities within a digital architecture. You have, for instance, Industrial Networks, Sensors, IIoT, Edge-Computing, Cloud Solutions, Asset Tracking, Automation & Robotics, Cybersecurity, sometimes 3-D printing, and definitely the convergence of IT with Operational Technologies (OT).
IIoT will help industrial organisations transition from reactive to predictive maintenance and optimise asset management strategies to improve operations and reduce costs, amongst other benefits. The goal is to use digitally available information from existing, installed field instruments to improve safety, operations, and reliability.
Management of industrial operations has become increasingly demanding. It’s a case of going through the tangle of new data to find the needle in the haystack. Industrial companies need to create reliable production plans to meet market demands, and synchronise maintenance plans and operations execution – with the mandate to be more productive. Just as important, plant owner/operators need to understand how well they are able to improve the process of managing the performance of these tasks, and continuously deliver improved productivity and effectiveness.
For process industry firms, there is a real need to digitally transform operations, with real-time instrumentation delivering better information and allowing faster implementation of decisions. An essential requirement for every company is to ensure the safety of people, assets and the environment, while optimising the performance of processes and facilities (e.g., uptime, reliability, safety and compliance), and that cannot be done without comprehensive IT & Operational Technology (OT) Integration.
During the past 20 years, the growth and diversification of the Internet has changed how industries operate. In the following 5 years, it will dramatically alter manufacturing, energy and other industrial sectors of the economy. The so-called Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), and in tandem with Industrial Digital Transformation practices, are the latest wave of technological change that will bring unprecedented opportunities to the industry and to society. It combines the global reach of the Internet with a new ability to directly control the physical world, including machines, facilities and infrastructure.
14 tested benefits of IIoT & Digital Transformation for the Industry
An IIoT-enabled Digital Transformation programme offers a wide range of potential applications and benefits. Research performed by officers at the OEG (Organizational Engineering Group), tested the performance of new technologies, providing a background to advance in the research on actual benefits of IIoT & Industrial Digital Transformation for Manufacturers and the Industry in general.
In the study, they used OLS regressions to understand the association of Digital Transformation related-technologies to 14 expected benefits. The skewness and kurtosis values reported in their results suggest that the variables can be assumed as normally distributed, since they are below the threshold of 2.58 (α=0.01). The technologies below are associated with 14 benefits (numbered in brackets) as it follows:
Digital automation with sensors for process control (β = 0.778, p = 0.064) provides the basis for the control of production cells and data collection of the manufacturing flow and cells demand, aiming to providing inputs for the the MES/SCADA and (1) creating flexible production lines for on-demand manufacturing.
Big Data (β = 0.658, p = 0.008) & IoT technologies proved to be useful for real-time information processing, contributing to the building of Digital Twins that help in (2) agile and better strategic decision making in the production process, performing further data analysis for (3) predicting maintenance, enabling machine-learning (self-adapting), production scheduling, and for (4) better product design and manufacturing through CAD/CAM systems.
Cloud Services (β = 0.255, p = 0.043) increased the system value perceived by managers and operators. This technology allow digital processes to be connected to the cloud enabling users via the internet to develop new capabilities related to (5) monitoring, (6) control, (7) optimisation and (8) autonomy. With the Internet of Things (IoT), technicians, process owners, and managers can communicate with each other and their systems, (9) optimising overall production results.
Computer-Aided Design with Computer-Aided Manufacturing (β = 0.774, p = 0.046) brings several advantages since products can be digitally modified before their physical production, (10) reducing processing times, (11) and the resources and tools needed.
Flexible manufacturing lines (β = 0.062, p = 0.008) integrate product development data with manufacturing data through the use of Sensors and the MES/SCADA which could be used to (12) reconfigure or adapt the processing sequence and the production schedule. These technologies form a system that enables both, horizontal and vertical integration.
Cyber security systems (β = 0.578, p = 0.064) including secure-by-design industrial networks, redundant and resilient networking components, edge-computing, firewalls, SD-WANs, Virtual Desktops, Encryption and others (13) prevent productive losses of more than £100.000 per minute caused when the production lines are stopped, and (14) reputational damages caused by data leaks or by failing to meet supply orders.
In summary, the 14 tested benefits of IIoT & Digital Transformation for the Industry are:
Reconfiguration and adaptation of the processing sequence and the production schedule.
The enablement of flexible production lines for on-demand manufacturing.
Agile and more accurate strategic decision making in the production process.
Enhanced data analysis for predicting required maintenance, enabling machine-learning (self-adapting), and better production scheduling.
More efficient product design and manufacturing through CAD/CAM systems.
Internet-enabled process monitoring.
Internet-enabled production control.
Internet-enabled process optimisation.
More autonomy for day-to-day decision making in management and production teams.
Better communication between teams and their systems for optimised production efficiency.
Reduced processing times.
Reduced resources and tools needed for production.
The prevention of productive losses from insecure and unstable systems.
The prevention of reputational damages caused by data leaks or by failing to meet supply orders.
Some other benefits include:
Enhancing data collection even in the most geographically dispersed enterprises.
Providing personnel with improved remote commissioning, monitoring, diagnostic and asset management capabilities.
Reducing the time and effort for configuration and commissioning.
Minimising the need to troubleshoot device issues in the field.
Successful digital transformation results from reshaping operational strategies to leverage valuable existing assets in new ways. To get the most out of IIoT and Digital Transformation, companies will have to adopt a new way of thinking, starting with the recognition that analog solutions are sub-optimal and do not provide the information needed to run complex industrial facilities. Finally, it is needed to understand that IoT, Networking and SaaS technologies underpinning the Internet have a central place in process optimisation.
At the heart of the Digital Transformation era for the Industry is Polestar IIoT, Integrating Networks and Systems, enabling Manufacturers, Construction Companies, Healthcare Facilities, Oil & Gas Companies, and many other Enterprises through our Global Partner Ecosystem to digitally connect to the data revealed by increasingly smart instrumentation, integrating this information with enterprise systems to accelerate business performance.