How heavy industries can get IIoT right: Top tips for implementing a successful strategy
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is more than just a technology story. Putting the right systems and infrastructure in place is key but technology alone is not enough.
Before moving to the implementation phase organisations across the asset intensive industries must first ensure they fully grasp the problem they are trying to solve and have clear business objectives in place. Next, says Mike Brooks, senior director, APM Consulting, Aspen Technology, Inc., they need to gain commitment from their company’s leadership and be ready organisationally, with their people aligned, trained, and engaged.
Businesses must establish all of this first, before attempting to implement an IIoT strategy. A focus on three key areas will help to achieve long-term success: technology; implementation methodology, and work process.
Select proven technology
From the outset, businesses need to appreciate that the technology framework they choose should support their project goals, not constrain them. Technology should never simply be installed in isolation. Organisations need to be clear that implementing it will help advance their strategic objectives.
In rolling out projects of this sort, businesses should also look for tried and tested solutions. Experimental technology is a dangerous gamble. Organisations should choose an established technology that has been shown to work and carefully validate that it can meet their organisation’s requirements. It is important, too, that they ask for and check references. Blind faith is never enough.
Choose the simplest implementation methodology
Organisations must align their implementation and adoption strategy with their current staff’s competence and capabilities. Ideally, implementations should not require new intense skills in analytics data science, or mechanical knowledge, for example. They should be quick and easy to carry out, and capable of scaling to meet site and corporate needs.
The application must fit the end user, not the other way around. Businesses first need to understand what they need to do to make the chosen solution work properly. Next, they need to ensure that they have an agile methodology in place that allows them to execute on a small scale quickly and simply, then rapidly grow the implementation, learning as they go. A traditional waterfall project methodology will simply not work in this context.
Look for simple work processes embedded in the solution
Businesses across the asset-intensive industries also need to ask themselves: how is the end user likely to respond when the application advises of issues or opportunities or automatically executes changes? Does the application present a low touch work process removing complexity and simplifying interactions? What do users need to do to sustain their new solution and keep it up to date and working over long periods?
Choose the right technology partner
It is important to choose a technology partner with experience and expertise in this sector. Leading companies developing effective IIoT solutions know the essential ingredients for making a customer successful. They deliver products built with great technology that is both easy to set up and simple to work with. Then, excellence in training, exemplary service offerings and customer support complement that equation.
The ongoing evolution of IIoT technology has great potential for businesses across heavy and asset-intensive industries. The application of these technologies is paving the way to increased profitability and reliability for organisations operating in these sectors. But in this crowded and competitive marketplace, not every organisation will be a winner. Businesses need to ensure that they align their business strategy with their core organisational goals, then execute projects efficiently.
The author is Mike Brooks, senior director, APM Consulting, Aspen Technology, Inc.