Help with IIoT, digital manufacturing

Why organizations are helping with Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Industrie 4.0, and digital manufacturing: No one wants to miss opportunities to accelerate.

By Mark T. Hoske May 25, 2016

Many organizations are offering to help with implementation of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Industrie 4.0, and digital manufacturing methods and technologies, in part because of the large measured and perceived benefits of using these frameworks, as explained at the MESA 2016 North American Conference last month.

There’s business value at the intersection where manufacturing meets information technology (IT), according to Mike Yost, president, Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association (MESA) International. MESA offers education to help resolve issues in the way of success. Yost noted: "We see more people interested in intersection of manufacturing and IT than ever before." 

Many organizations involved

Academia, industrial companies, technologies partners, and others are collaborating on how to build technology systems for smart manufacturing, said Mark Besser, a Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition (SMLC) board member and an SMLC technology advisory committee member. That’s happening with a confluence of traditional plantwide options and connectivity that reaches deeper into organizations and farther into the supply chain, making data visible, in an agile and sustainable way, Besser suggested.

Digital manufacturing is the clever use of data at every stage of design and manufacturing, capturing, analyzing, and making sense of data to move products down line more competitively to retain and bring more U.S. jobs, explained Jacob Goodwin, director of membership at the Digital Manufacturing and Design Institute (DMDII). Goodwin said a digital thread connects software and tools, intelligent machining uses sensors to monitor conditions in real time to keep processes with specifications, and advanced analytics are used to get data and derive benefits. DMDII is a federally funded research and development organization of UI Labs that encourages U.S. factories to deploy digital manufacturing and design technologies to become more efficient and cost-competitive.

Imagine that regulations require updates to a product design where detailed documentation no longer is available. Digital tools might allow needed design changes within hours that might have otherwise taken months, Goodwin said. 

Accelerating changes

Adoption, Yost said, may not be as much technological in challenge as cultural hesitation about investments and changes required within organizations.

That said, test beds demonstrating benefits are well underway, so think again if you haven’t yet begun. Within 18 months, Goodwin suggested that anyone not yet deploying these concepts will be left far behind competitors.

Mark T. Hoske, content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media,

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Author Bio: Mark Hoske has been Control Engineering editor/content manager since 1994 and in a leadership role since 1999, covering all major areas: control systems, networking and information systems, control equipment and energy, and system integration, everything that comprises or facilitates the control loop. He has been writing about technology since 1987, writing professionally since 1982, and has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism degree from UW-Madison.