The first Industrial Revolution dates back to the late 1700s and early 1800s, when there was a dramatic shift from handmade to machine made industrial equipments. Then came mass production, followed by electronics & control systems on the shop floor, and sustainability. Today, we are on the cusp of a new revolution – the age of Product Innovation, powered by the Internet of Things.

The term ‘The Internet of Things’, otherwise referred to as ‘The Internet of Objects’, has been bandied about from as far back as the 1980s, yet, it is only now that it is really starting to take prominence globally. For those not in the know how, IoT is defined as “A network of networks of uniquely identifiable endpoints that communicate without the benefit of human interaction or inference. It is not an individual technology that can be implemented in isolation, but an integral element of an innovation platform that ties together multiple IT systems and teams.”

Today, 1 in 5 factories still function completely offline. But, experts say that in the next five years, this number will drop to near zero. Why? Two words: Smart Manufacturing.

IoT offers manufacturers a network of networks of endpoints that communicate without humans holding the reins. It offers them invaluable information from every touch point and stage in the life cycle of a product: real-time, reliable information about each product item, at every stage of its development and use. In a nutshell, it gives the manufacturers all the information from the shop floor and supply chain, blurring boundaries between plant operations, product design and manufacturing. These influxes of insights enables the streamlining of business processes and optimize supply and demand, while giving manufacturers the chance to zero in on and address shortcomings and enhance the design of new versions.

How does this happen? Integrated information systems harness connected technologies, the Cloud and Big Data Analytics, all in real time; the products remain connected even after roll-out, providing feedback about performance and location. The connected supply chain not only tracks inbound and outbound shipments for location-related information, but also offers in-transit parameters that could prove vital. IoT therefore enlarges the sphere of innovation, which is often limited to ‘better performance’ or ‘cost effectiveness’, to instead create ‘connected assets’ that enable new value propositions throughout the product’s life. This is a game changer for the manufacturing business!!!

Its impact is significant in three crucial areas:

The applications of IoT are manifold and permeate almost every business, some already in play, while others are yet to be explored. The possibilities

Formation exchange between Products, People, Process, Infrastructure and Logistics help potential businesses to transform for better decision-making and desired results.

Also, enabling mobility and IoT to maintain the factory floor between plant managers and supply chain stakeholders, connecting people to right information and devices improvise efficiency smartly. Looking at the Infrastructure management, the key results are with energy utility, energy optimization, and factory floor performance analytics with data visualisation. Sensors connecting the machine to machine are enabling new thoughts of automation and efficiency parameters. Mobility adds value to the IoT environment by enabling anytime and anywhere contexts to the touch points.

Sensors communicate with all the electronic devices of the industrial machines and the data of the produce. For example, Number of bottles produced, imprinted and recycled, which was calculated manually can now be viewed in real-time with the help of mobility. Gas stations would have the ability to track and monitor the condition of the vehicle(s) and would provide the data to the company regarding fuel consumption at real-time. In case priority for delivery of certain goods to a distant region, fleet connectivity would choose the best fleet, truck, route, and driver according to the situation that’s been put forth. Companies like Bosch, Cisco, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, GE, General Mills, Harley Davidson and Siemens count themselves among the earlier adopters of IoT. It can be implemented with phased strategies, leading the possibilities for implementing it in manufacturing of any scale. The results will be comparatively faster to see in such companies.