I’m coming back from COFES 2014. As always, COFES, is an excellent place to get in touch with industry big thinkers and have an opportunity to discuss trending topics. One of the hot topics this year was IoT (Internet of Things). It made me think and re-think about IoT and PLM again. First time I came to IoT topic back in 2009 (PLM and Internet of Things). Back that time I’ve been thinking about IoT as a technology that can connect digital and physical world. Here is a snippet from my old post:
All physical objects surrounding us designed and manufacturing with a certain level of PLM system involvement. Different manufacturing companies have various levels of PLM deployment, but most of them have CAD to create digital models, they track data about what they were engineering and manufacturing. Since we take more and more environmental responsibilities, we need to track what we designed in real life. This is where I see “internet of things” are finally connecting.
Last week at COFES 2014, I had a chance to attend rountable abut IoT, PLM and Manufacturing. Here is a teaser for that roundtable.
PLM, IoT, and Big Data: Managing the Feedback Loop. IoT (“the Internet of things”), is bringing changes to the way we design. IoT will also generate “big data”. Beyond the needs of IoT functionality, how will PLM need to evolve to leverage this new design asset? Is PLM the right place for it? If not, where does it get managed and how do critical ideas get back to design and engineering?
One of my takeaways from the meeting was that people still see IoT in a very blur and abstract way. The following business maturity diagram for IoT was proposed by David Sherburne and discussed during the meeting. It was a good attempt to put some logical layers for PLM & IoT solutions.
I think it will be beneficial to come with mature definition and what is more important to bring few examples of IoT practical usage today. So, I wanted to come with 3 use cases and ways to leverage IoT within existing PLM scenarios and solutions.
1- improve MRO solutions.
Maintenance and service are getting more focus these days. It reflects an increasing interest of manufacturing companies to new “service business models”. Sensors will provide a data foundation to connect and communicate with products. It will help to optimize future service schedules and lower maintenance cost.
2- improve requirement management function
To know how customers are using your products is getting more and more important. It will be beneficial to know that some product functions are not in use and inject this information in future requirement analysis and management tools.
3- product performance monitoring
It is getting more and more important to monitor product during their lifecycle. What if you can get real performance data from an engine and other parts of the car, airplane, computer, toothbrush. It helps to deal with growing set of regulation and other environmental requirements. There are lots of interesting opportunities how to leverage data produced by devices and products. I can see a growing demand for data analysis tools capable to handle this data.
What is my conclusion? We are going to live in the connected world of smart product with lots of sensors able to produce useful information. It will help to improve products and optimize manufacturing, production and support costs. It will not happen overnight. However, I can see some use cases very practical. Companies can start implementing them already today. Just my thoughts…