Three Things Needed to Move into IIot

Joe Weinlick
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Hype always moves faster than innovation, so the "Industrial Internet of Things" is little more than a buzzword among many manufacturing companies. IoT devices have the potential to boost production, reduce oversight and improve safety protocols, but only if they can integrate seamlessly. While major companies such as CLAAS and General Electric are implementing IoT devices in stages, smaller manufacturers are hesitant to make the leap until they see resolution for three key issues.

1. Measurable Benefits

Manufacturers recognize the profit potential of building connected facilities with precise machine-to-machine communication, but they have spent years refining their operations to achieve high efficiency. When considering the steep cost of integrating high-quality IoT devices, manufacturers are reluctant to transition without a clear picture of how those changes can produce lasting benefits.

For example, agricultural equipment manufacturer CLAAS develops product and software solutions to help farmers optimize crop flow and regulate equipment performance. In an industry rife with unpredictable challenges, CLAAS gives farmers the tools and data analytics to see what happens at every stage. As a result, farmers can protect products and workers from faulty equipment or automate machinery to adjust to weather- and production-specific issues. Strong business operations are driven by practical results, making it essential for technology developers to present a compelling value proposition that emphasizes necessity and efficiency over convenience.

2. Consistent Functionality

Industrial technology is only useful if it can produce a viable product again and again with minimal complication. In software-as-a-service applications, consumers are comfortable working with experimental products that are continually being updated. Because manufacturers rely on consistency for profit and security, technology developers must abandon this "beta" mindset and design ready-to-use IoT devices to avoid expensive production flaws.

Manufacturers face higher risks than consumers when IoT devices fail, and negative experiences may discourage them from adopting other industrial technology that could strengthen operations. With this in mind, developers should focus on creating simple, complete products that perform a specific job flawlessly and gradually roll out new features after resolving defects.

3. Simple Integration

The average consumer knows that a house full of network devices can lead to connectivity and interference issues. Now, imagine a large-scale enterprise with a multitude of IoT devices exchanging data over several networks. Businesses have to be willing to invest in network infrastructures that can handle heavy traffic and security measures to protect sensitive data. After making these expensive adjustments, manufacturers expect IoT devices to integrate correctly without requiring constant monitoring.

The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that IoT applications could produce up to $11.1 trillion in annual economic value by 2025; and on average, interoperability will account for 40 percent of that success. For the highest cost efficiency, manufacturers must have the flexibility to pick and choose only the technologies they need to design custom industrial operations. No matter how complex in design, IoT devices from different developers must work seamlessly and independently, providing simple programming options for users.

The future of IoT devices in industrial applications depends on collaboration. Manufacturers and developers have to start viewing businesses as network ecosystems to design products that speak the same language.

Photo courtesy of David Costillo Dominici at


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