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IoT enhances manufacturing industry

Posted: 05 May 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IoT? manufacturing? Internet of Things? automobile-as-a-service? Ford Sync?

The manufacturing industry will improve significantly with the help of the IoT (Internet of Things). From simply producing objects, it will be capable of creating platforms and services that yield customisable products.

Device makers are experiencing an unprecedented range of challenges as they compete in globalised markets. According to a recent survey report published jointly by Flexera Software and IDC, 48 per cent of device makers surveyed referenced the need to make more money among their biggest challenges. Agility was also a major pain point!47 per cent of manufacturers said reducing time to market for creating new products/enhancements, and 47 per cent said enhancing their ability to react quickly to changing market needs and/or new market opportunities. Other pain points cited by device makers included security (42 per cent) and reducing manufacturing costs (40 per cent).

Fortunately, the two most significant manufacturing advances in recent years are now allowing manufacturers to address all of these pain points, and at the same time open up vast new revenue sources previously unimaginable. Those advances revolve around intelligent and Internet-connected "Internet of Things" technologies. Intelligent devices are defined as physical devices that include embedded software (or external software applications) that control product features, function and/or capacity. IoT devices are Internet-enabled devices that help accomplish specific user scenarios by bringing their data and functionality together with other devices.

The auto industry template for transformation

The auto industry is a case in point illustrating the power of the Internet of Things to transform traditional manufacturing business models. Carmakers spend billions of dollars investing in new automobile features and technology to keep customers in their showrooms. But they have a very narrow window of opportunity to turn that investment into revenue. A typical family may purchase an automobile every four or five years. So during that time the manufacturer must wait, and wait some more!unable to delight that family with its latest innovations until a new automobile purchase is in the offing. In the meantime, that same family is spending money on lots of other goods and services to address its constantly evolving daily needs. Auto manufacturers are losing out on this daily spending stream.


But what if a vehicle's purchase represented the beginning of the manufacturer's revenue stream!and not the end? What if the vehicle could be continually enhanced, upgraded, downgraded and modified based on the evolving needs and tastes of the customer? What if it could become like a service!serving the needs of its owner in evolving ways over its useful life? What would that look like, and what do automakers need to do in order to make this a reality?

Consider the following scenario: A fictional family of four has a limited automobile budget and they're in the market to replace their current automobile. Their primary needs are modest!a safe, reliable vehicle to be driven mostly locally to get the kids to school and do the family errands. They purchase a mid-market saloon with a modest, 200 horsepower engine and a "power" package of no-frill features including basic radio.

Over the summer, though, the kids leave for two weeks of summer camp, giving the parents an opportunity to take a romantic touring holiday through the Alps. Because it's a holiday, those parents want to have a fun and exciting touring automobile for their adventure. So they leave the boring saloon at home and they rent a high-end sports saloon that has GPS, satellite radio and more horsepower!all features that they wouldn't splurge on for their quotidian family saloon.

This scenario is a perfect illustration of why an automobile is actually a service!and not a static object. The family's driving needs change according to who is driving the automobile and the purposes for which it is being used. With the kids away and the parents stealing off for an adventurous adult holiday, needs and tastes have temporarily shifted. Because the family automobile no longer suits the temporary needs, the parents purchased a substitute solution!a rental automobile.

- Vikram Koka
??EE Times U.S./Vice President, Internet of Things
??Flexera Software

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