Most of us have heard of the internet of things or IoT. The words smart device, smart home, and smart city have been thrown around enough for most of us to catch the gist of what they mean. But a subset of the IoT wave often gets ignored outside industrial marketplaces. The Industrial Internet of Things or IIoT promises groundbreaking changes in the way industries approach processes and services. And it is doing so with something called the digital thread.
Digital Threads and How They Drive Industrial Value
Every interaction with a device that can use a wired or wireless connection to connect to the larger internet, such as through Spectrum internet plan, generates data. Now think about all the interactions you have had with smart devices. Now, look at that in the context of the billions of other people who have had similar interactions. The volume of data generated every day is staggering. The same principle applies to industries. They are looking at using a network of IoT devices to gather data from multiple data points and applying modern-day data science techniques to extract value from this data.
A “digital thread” is a single piece of digital “truth” that remains consistent across all data points and can be aligned across multiple business functions and data points. The digital thread allows separate conventionally siloed functions to access a democratized version of the same data across an enterprise. The result is better collaboration, streamlining of functions, improved efficiency, and of course, more productivity. Here are a few aspects where data threads and industrial IoT networks are driving industrial value in diverse enterprises:
A product’s lifecycle refers to the time from when the product first enters the market to the time it is taken off the shelves. Product lifecycles offer manufacturers and producers useful insights into how much value the product can bring to them over the course of its lifecycle. Modern data threads often include consistent product data from different information systems. The use of industrial IoT networks allows this data to head back to product engineers and design experts to further improve the product lifecycle and maximize the value derived from it.
Improved Product Flexibility and Quality
The modern business world is all about offering personalized and often customized product experiences. A static product is not very likely to succeed in the long-term. In fact, most manufacturers understand the need to add differentiators to their products to help them stand out from other similar competing products. The same data threads that offer information on product lifecycles can also be adapted to gather information on any further improvements customers would like on the product. This information can be used to initiate a mass customization drive, helping industries to adapt to changing customer needs and behavior.
Connecting Information Silos for Improved Productivity
Data is a digital asset, and one of the most valuable resources for any business. However, integrable systems are only a very recent development. Conventionally, industrial information systems resemble stand-alone monoliths or “data silos” as they are now known. Each silo likely contains useful information, but it is all stored in different systems. In this form of data management, if you need data on a specific product lifecycle, you will have to extract the data from all these silos. Then you will have to sort it, analyze it, and identify trends to make value-adding decisions. The use of IIoT and data threads has resulted in better methods of data management and use. The modern digital asset management or DAM systems can not just communicate across the industrial enterprise, they can also integrate with a wide range of software that many modern industries use. The result is an extremely agile and efficient approach to accessing disparate data gathered by IIoT, and making use of it to improve specific functions, such as worker productivity.
Enhanced Ability to Market and Sell Products
Of course, manufacturing isn’t the sole focus of an industrial manufacturing enterprise. Even industrial firms need to be able to market and sell their products efficiently in order to stay functioning. You likely already have a dedicated sales and marketing team to handle this function. When directly dealing with customers, business functions can make use of any and all relevant data they can get their hands on. This may include everything from customer preferences to how the product effectively addresses customer needs. Modern industrial IoT and the use of data threads allow marketing and sales personnel ready access to accurate information that can help them improve the overall strategy. Using contemporary data science, it may even be possible to identify shifting customer behaviors and industry trends early on. This can help industrial firms position themselves to respond effectively to these changes.
Industrial IoT networks consist of dozens, if not hundreds, of data intake points spread throughout different industrial functions. They can gather information on things like manufacturing floor staff, process efficiency, quality control measures, and even log technical support calls made to the Spectrum phone number. The always-on nature of these devices means they are constantly gathering data, much like a fishing boat trawling nets in deep water. In its raw form, however, this data is too large and unrefined to be of valuable use. Thanks to data threads and better integration of technology, industrial enterprises can improve the gathering, access, and use of this data, aligned with larger business goals.