Over the last few years, a few different factors have conspired to create the perfect environment for IIoT innovation.
A pandemic that forced companies to prioritize remote data collection. Major leaps forward in edge computing. An increasing trend towards automation.
These are powerful influences individually. But together, they’ve created incredible opportunities for IoT brands and IoT customers alike to try out new, more innovative ways of using their connected devices.
And a few companies are truly taking advantage of this chance. From developing more advanced technology to finding more creative applications of IoT and changing the way industrial manufacturing is done, these organizations are truly pushing the boundaries of what IoT can do.
Industrial IoT is a difficult market for many companies — the challenges are complex, implementation can be tough and successful adoption isn’t always guaranteed. But these companies remind us that, when it’s done well, IIoT can be truly transformational for workers, organizations, and customers alike.
Below you’ll find four companies that are changing the face of the manufacturing industry — and making us excited about the future of IIoT.
BMW Group makes real-time customization possible with IoT
What is it?
BMW Group is helping drive forward an application of IoT that’s captured the imagination of manufacturers for years: real-time customization on the factory floor.
By automating the production of some 3D-printed components — and using IoT to gauge demand for certain components and customizations in real-time — BMW Group is making it easier for their factories to reduce waste, improve efficiency and cut down on manual processes.
It’s all part of a wider program called the ‘Industrialization and Digitization of Industrial Manufacturing for Automotive Series Processes’, or IDAM for short. Sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research, the 20 million euro initiative also includes 12 other partners — all of whom are using their expertise to address some of the manufacturing industry’s trickiest automation challenges.
The project has made some enormous strides forward in the three years since it kicked off — watch this space, because this technology is going to be huge.
Why is it exciting?
If the project succeeds, it’ll give manufacturers across the globe a blueprint for large-scale, efficient, automated customization of components. The IDAM project is expressly designed to help work out many of the kinks in this process, so the learnings from this project will benefit the entire manufacturing industry.
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3M catches sticky production line issues earlier with IoT
The name 3M might not sound immediately familiar, but its products will be — chances are there’s one on your desk right now.
3M produces everything from Scotch tape and Post-it notes to the N95 protective masks that kept healthcare personnel safe during the pandemic.
In late 2020 and early 2021, 3M took a radical step forward with its IIoT by embracing edge computing on its factory floors. Instead of spending time gathering, transferring, and then analyzing data on an on-premises SQL Server, 3M decided to begin analyzing the data gathered by its IoT devices locally, instead.
By combining this edge capability with a new algorithm that predicts problems on the manufacturing line hours before they appear, 3M can now rapidly identify and fix issues as they arise.
Why is it exciting?
Moving these kinds of analytics to the edge wouldn’t have been possible ten years ago — and, by doing so, 3M is making its predictive analytics hyper-efficient. It’s also a great way of reducing latency and getting around issues with low network capacity, making 3M’s overall IoT implementation significantly more efficient and cost-effective.
As edge computing continues to improve over the next few years, we’ll probably see more and more companies following 3M’s example, making rapid, real-time IoT data analysis much more accessible.
Stanley Black & Decker keeps an eagle eye on performance with IoT
What is it?
Stanley Black & Decker has embraced innovation — the company often makes the lists of most innovative manufacturers — but it’s taken its technology to the next level with the creation of its ‘Live View’ platform.
As an IoT product leader knows, it’s easy for customers to lose track of the data collected by their connected devices. This means that potentially valuable data often goes to waste.
Stanley Black & Decker anticipated this problem. Once it had spot-tested a few IoT devices for things like temperature monitoring, the company realized that it wanted a way to collate all of this data and put it into action.
That’s where Live View was born — an application, developed in collaboration with Microsoft Azure, that provides real-time performance monitoring across 20 production sites. The software compiles all the relevant data on key performance metrics into one easy-to-scan dashboard, making it easy for employees across the company to turn their IoT-driven insights into action.
Why is it exciting?
These kinds of applications take IoT from an optional add-on to an essential component of day-to-day working life for manufacturers. Stanley Black & Decker’s commitment to turning IoT data into actionable insights should help more companies see the value of IIoT — which can only be a good thing for IIoT product leaders.
Nissan builds an intelligent, robotics-driven factory with IoT
The factory is designed to let humans and robots work seamlessly alongside each other at every stage of the production process. While robotic arms assemble the car’s components, human operators monitor operations via IoT data beamed directly to their smartphones.
The aim was to create a Nissan factory that produces ‘zero defects’ — using AI and robotics to automate the more complex parts of car production while using IoT to harvest and analyze data that can help Nissan prevent defects before they occur.
Why is it exciting?
Take a look at the enormous breadth of the technology that’s being used at the Tochigi Plant — everything from suspension installation to paint inspection is automated using some of the industry’s most advanced solutions. It’s incredibly inspiring to see such a broad, consistent approach to IoT and automation. And the sustainability benefits of all of this new technology are pretty impressive, too.
What’s most exciting, though, is that these kinds of implementations are likely to become the norm over the next few years. For Nissan, this new factory isn’t just a competitive advantage — it’s an essential upgrade that’s going to help them navigate demands for increasingly complex vehicle builds, labor shortages and the effects of climate change.
Ready to lead the way?
It’s an exciting time for the IIoT industry. More and more companies around the world are beginning to push the envelope with their connected devices, finding new ways to drive efficiency, reduce costs and improve the quality of their products.
But how can you, as an IIoT product leader, make sure you’re part of this new wave of IIoT innovation?
At Firedome, we help IoT companies differentiate themselves from the competition and win the trust of customers by building more secure connected devices. Ones that let brands reap the benefits of the latest IoT innovations, without sacrificing the security of their networks.
If you’d like to find out more about how we help innovative IoT brands provide their customers with embedded IIoT endpoint protection, get in touch.