Today we welcome guest blog author Alain Dedieu, senior vice president of the drives domain at Schneider Electric, a Belden partner. Originally posted on Schneider’s blog, the article offers expertise we think you’ll find valuable.
Digitization with the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technologies is allowing industrial companies to play a major role in the new digital economy. In a world of fast-evolving demand requirements, the simplification of connectivity turns big data and information into a resource that can be put to work to create business improvements.
By business improvements, I mean results like an increased asset utilization rate of 25%, which was achieved by improving the efficiency at each step of a food and beverage process, for instance. And improved supply chain efficiency of 20% across an iron ore operation by predicting how each entity in the supply chain will operate as a single system rather than as discrete components.
However, industrial companies who want to grow are not going to do so on the back of the technology they bring through the door. Consultation, support and training to extract the most value from that technology are essential. Automation vendors and customers alike must take a “mercantile” approach to any new offerings that they put out in the market – and there are rewards to be reaped by all.
Machine-as-a-service (MaaS) can be compared to energy performance contracting. Implementing technologies that allow a machine builder to understand the exact performance of the machines they build (including how much those machines can manufacture) is a revolutionary new opportunity to monetize industrial machines. In order to develop this idea into a sustainable business model, machine builders need the tools to track and monitor the health of their machines. But the rewards are clear – it creates an opportunity for a machine builder to create a continuous revenue stream on parts manufactured as opposed to receiving a one-off payment for the machine itself.
End-user customers, like all companies in the industrial space, are facing a shortage of skilled workers as baby boomers retire. Simulation technologies are helping to quickly train new operators in a safe and secure way. Advancements in the technologies behind Operator Training Simulators (OTSs) have seen them become a reality for many plant operations. Operators gain an understanding of how to work in the actual plant environment and have the opportunity to learn in a safe environment how to react when accidents occur. This makes the ramp-up for new recruits much smoother – which can only help the bottom line.
Simulation technologies are also helping to grow the businesses of end-user customers with digital replication models for process improvements. From plant design to maintenance, a consistent digital model of the plant can help deliver consistency, faster maintenance, better operations and more thorough training (as already mentioned) across the complete plant. Continuous process industries have been using technologies like this to grow their businesses for many years, with hybrid industries also able to reap benefits.
Business as usual for system integrators and technology partners is to meet a need by selling a product. For example, a customer that needs to reduce the energy consumption of a big motor can purchase a drive. However, what if there was the ability to monitor and control, in real time, the energy consumption of the drive? Having a controller on the drive to know when it starts, when it stops and under what conditions, provides the opportunity to develop a contract with the customer. A contract not on the capital expenditure of the drive, but on the performance improvements you, as a partner, can provide to your customer’s business. This optimizes the value of the customer’s revenue and is a continuous stream of revenue for you. It’s a new business opportunity for your customer and your company.
We hear a lot about improving business through cost savings, and many industrial companies are focused on where they can cut, reduce and simplify. The other side of the story, though, is about growing through incremental investments in IIoT to develop and/or provide new services that deliver productivity for new business opportunities.
To read more content from Alain, visit Schneider Electric’s blog here: http://blog.schneider-electric.com/author/adedieu/.
What do you see as the best way to grow your business with IIoT?