October 9, 2019

Strategic Roadmap for IIoT Success

Taking your first step on your IIoT journey, you need a roadmap to success. Here it is!

Strategic Roadmap for IIoT Success
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As a manufacturer, you’re likely aware of, or even inundated with information about IIoT, Industry 4.0 or Smart Factory Analytics technologies. You may be just exploring what these terms mean or you may be at the point of imagining what an implementation in your business might look like. Either way, it’s important to understand what it takes to be successful with your IIoT implementation.

BDO has developed an IIoT Implementation Maturity Model for IIoT Manufacturer Implementations. With this model, you can assess where your business is today with respect to IIoT and the types of implementation that might make sense for your business to get to the next level.

Your ultimate goal may be to become an indispensable part of a value chain by integrating your systems and data into a big data pool with both upstream and downstream value creation partners. This would place your business at IIoT Maturity Level 4, which for many businesses is likely a stretch.

If this is your long term goal, then it makes sense to get your internal IIoT house in order first. So what then is a realistic goal for where your business is today?

Most businesses that we deal with are at IIoT Maturity Level 1, or IIoT Maturity Level 2 according to this model, and are looking to take their first steps with IIoT technology. Until you can gather operational manufacturing data and deliver actionable analytics in real time, you won’t be ready to move to more advanced IIoT capabilities such as predictive maintenance or value chain integration.

A good first goal for most manufacturers is to able to deliver real time core manufacturing KPIs to a distributed team that can take action on them. Being able to provide people access to manufacturing KPIs such as yield, throughput or downtime can often enable your team to deliver meaningful and measurable improvements in the business.

For a business at IIoT Maturity Level 1, even this can seem a daunting goal.

Given this, what’s your IIoT roadmap to get from point A to point point B?

According to Accenture’s latest IIoT trend study (Digital Industrial Transformation with the Internet of Things, 2017), the biggest driver of business IIoT initiatives is cost reduction, with 69% of businesses agreeing that this is the largest opportunity with IIoT technologies. Cost reduction ranked higher than creating new business models, increasing revenue or developing new products. Clearly there’s a consensus that IIoT technologies first and foremost can be a cost reduction tool. 

With that in mind, here is our Strategic Roadmap for Your IIoT Success:

1 - Walk Before You Run

Implementing an IIoT pilot program will enable you to minimize risk while still proving that you can deliver business value. There are a wide range of technologies that fall under the IIoT umbrella including machinery diagnostics systems, virtual and augmented reality technologies, energy management systems, robots & co-bots and more. Each of these options provides different investment profiles, opportunities for business impact and risk.

Implementing a Smart Factory Analytics dashboard can be a low risk, high return IIoT pilot program. Software such as Worximity is a SaaS solution so there’s no on-premise implementation to create hurdles or slow you down. The hardware investment is minimal compared to robotics and the training requirements and potential disruption in operations is far less than VR technologies. Additionally, connecting even a few critical pieces of equipment can yield actionable insights that can provide quick ROI.

2 - Set Achievable Goals

Along with walking before you run, we recommend that your first goals be achievable. While it’s natural to want to establish a hard numerical goal, for instance ‘we want to reduce downtime by 15%’, for your first implementations we suggest that you accept that you may not know exactly what is driving downtime yet or what the performance gaps may be. While a 15% reduction in downtime is eminently achievable,  and it’s possible that your organization has the opportunity for that and more, a more realistic first goal is ‘to create a dashboard that will let us manage and optimize the X process’.

3 - Identify Your Champion and Your Team

Having someone in the lead is critical to IIoT implementation success. We call this person your Champion.  This lead role may not be filled by a traditional management person but rather someone who’s closer to the operational area that the pilot project will impact. This person should have the opportunity to assemble their team and drive the project. If they’re a junior person there may be some mentoring required to help them to be successful.

One approach that we’ve seen be successful is to create dashboards that are suitable for a specific role. For instance deciding that you’ll create a smart factory dashboard for Manufacturing Operators or Continuous Improvement Practitioners can be a solid first step. As such, you may want a representative of the end recipient of the dashboard to be your champion.

4 - Select Your Test Program Platform

In order to minimize risk and improve your chances of success, we recommend that you select an IIoT platform that:

is an integrated system that is proven to deliver real results.

The days of assembling hardware, software and sensors and trying to build your own system are over. There are now a variety of integrated systems providers to choose from. The best of these have case studies and testimonials that speak to delivering business impact.

is from a supplier that has direct industry expertise.

Direct industry expertise will manifest itself positively in multiple ways. The right supplier understands your business and will have specific solutions that can deliver fast and reliable ROI. For instance, in Food Manufacturing VFFS (Vertical Form Fill Seal) machines are a known bottleneck area

They may also have have existing technology integrations such as API integrations with key industry machinery brands such as the Worximity API integrations with Checkweigher machinery builders

5 - The Forgotten IIoT Critical Success Factor - Process

As we’ve noted elsewhere in this blog, a successful implementation of IIoT technology takes into account the Platform, the People and the Process. Early in the IIoT journey, businesses tend to focus on the technology platform decision. While this makes sense, as noted above, getting people on board is critical to success in implementing IIoT technology. Often forgotten however is that success depends upon integrating your IIoT technology into a well-defined process such as Lean Manufacturing.

Given that most companies are looking at IIoT implementations as a cost reduction tool, it may make sense to focus on reducing costs through the lens of waste reduction.

The Toyota Production System has identified 8 types of wastes that can be managed:









Setting your analytics up for a waste reduction process such as the TPS can be a wise first step.

Remember that you’re taking your first steps on a digital transformation journey. You need to get your footing, trying to minimize risk while delivering some measurable wins so that you can progress further. The roadmap above can be helpful in achieving your near and long-term goals.

Interested in taking the next step in your IIoT journey? Get the ebook here!


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