Yesterday I learned a new TLA – IoT, which stands for Internet of Things. The topic is not new for me. If you haven’t heard about IoT until now, you probably should. You can start from this Wikipedia article and get down to one of my early blogs about PLM and Internet o Things. First time I did it long time ago back in 2009 – PLM and Internet of Things. My second attempt was last year – PLM, Smart Products and Internet of Things.
The topic that made me think again about IoT is connectivity. We live in the era where connectivity becomes a problem and big advantage at the same time. We are all concerned about growing capability of smartphones and other devices and services to scan our life and provide this information to other people based on policy and agreements (however, sometimes even against them). At the same time, growing capability to connect everything might have a very positive aspects when it comes to product lifecycle.
I’ve been reading ITBusinessEdge article – Accenture Sees PLM Driven by Internet of Things. The interesting part of the article is the vision behind increased needs to collaborate and connect everything between cloud and on-premise locations. Here is my favorite passage:
According to Sergio Colella, managing director for Accenture, with manufacturers collaborating with more companies than ever, a critical need exists for a more structured way for them to not only collaborate with one another, but also to make sure trade secrets don’t inadvertently fall into the wrong hands. Colella says delivering PLM systems will require a mix of cloud and on-premise technologies that represent about an $8 billion market. Much of that activity is being driven by the Internet of Things trend that is seeing almost every product in one form or another being connected to the Internet.
The same topic echoes in McKinsey and Co. publication – The Internet of Things and the future of manufacturing. Take a time and read the research paper as well as the interviews. The article speaks about almost science-fiction of cyber-physical systems to improve the productivity. Here is the quote:
In manufacturing, the potential for cyber-physical systems to improve productivity in the production process and the supply chain is vast. Consider processes that govern themselves, where smart products can take corrective action to avoid damages and where individual parts are automatically replenished. Such technologies already exist and could drive what some German industry leaders call the fourth industrial revolution—following the steam engine, the conveyor belt, and the first phase of IT and automation technology. Given the Internet of Things—or Industry 4.0 as we call it when referring to manufacturing production—it is highly likely that the world of production will become more and more networked until everything is interlinked with everything else. And logistics could be at the forefront of this shift.
You might think IoT is somewhat crazy complicated required lots of effort, planning, investment and so on. Actually, the things are getting easier every day. My attention was caught by the application MakerSwarm. This Android app defines itself as “Napster of IoT” and allows you to program devices and connect them to operate together. Look on the following video – it worth 9 minutes of watching.
MakerSwarm app made me think about PLM system engineering apps that focused on designing connectivity and functionality between systems. When look how fast you can hook two devices together, you can see it is actually not very far from cyber-physical systems to control supply chain and improve productivity. The communication between devices as well as related manufacturers and suppliers can reach a completely different level.
What is my conclusion? We are in front of a significant technological disruption that can make manufacturing different in 3-5 years. For the last decade, internet changed the way we communicate and work. It seems to me future integration of web technologies with products can provide a completely different insight on how we manage full product lifecycle – from early design ideas collaboration into trial, testing, manufacturing, supply and maintenance. Just my thoughts…