It's an awkward dance between how quickly IoT, machine learning and AI are evolving and how slowly manufacturing companies are adopting this disruptive technology. Cloud platforms are multiplying literally every week for the industrial manufacturing sector but the slow-to-adopt manufacturers remain way behind the technology curve.
But does every manufacturer and manufacturing company really need IoT technology? And what about machine learning, AI and digital transformation? Will these incredible technologies really help these traditional companies transform their businesses, automate outdated processes and connect to new customer experiences?
We have helped manufacturing companies build cloud-based and digital transformation applications and the end results are always extremely positive. We'll share some information here that may shed some light on how these technologies are really transforming a business.
The growth of public cloud platforms (AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google) is outpacing private cloud applications (Microsoft Exchange or anything hosted on your servers). The revenue estimates from these services are $18.5 billion for 2018. That's a lot of clouds.
IoT (Internet of Things) technologies use both the public cloud and private cloud applications. It's now an official "thing" called hybrid cloud solutions. As you can read, the lines are blurry between the clouds and the space is expanding quickly.
The major benefit from implementing IoT technology is the tremendous amount of data that is gleaned over time. It's the interpretation of the data that gives manufacturers an edge in discovering faster or less expensive ways to increase production and increase the customer experience. Data allows owners and the C-suite to monitor processes and labor to see where both can improve and expand capabilities.
Machine learning algorithms and custom software development extrapolate tons of the data to give you better information about job scheduling, job costs, human efficiency vs. robotic production, and any other variable you can imagine. This helps you make stronger business decisions.
A Quick Example of One of Our IoT Projects
A global craft and retail product designer and distributor was routinely and manually printing, inserting and folding tens of thousands of product kits to mail to subscription customers each month. The hard costs for printing, burning hard media copies and assembling each kit was astronomical. The owner knew that they needed to transform this manual process into an automated routine.
Our job was to research, to design and build, and to integrate a new IoT system into their business. We knew that the thousands of replicated media had to be replaced with an online access point to each customer's purchased subscription kit. This would replace the expensive manual printing, reproduction and assembly costs.
We created an online (cloud hosted) platform where every product kit and sku would generate a unique product code that was digitally printed on a paper card to send to the hundreds of distributors for retail sale. The customer would then purchase the card and unveil the unique code that unlocked their digital purchase.
We then worked with a partner to build an in-house digital printing, folding and tabbing machine platform that could produce hundreds of completed kits in 5 minutes versus 3 hours (and human error) under the manual process.
Our database and cloud platform speaks directly to the production machine platform to execute orders and keep count of exact production per distributor requests. The result is amazing. Zero waste. Zero storage of materials. Zero errors.
Every manufacturer can implement IoT at one level or another. It's extreme to say that businesses will be "out" if they don't adopt modern technologies and transform their outdated processes, but the urgency in the statement is there. And the largest sector of businesses that can benefit the most is manufacturing.
We help businesses build strategy and platforms to transform their operation while increasing value to their customers.