3 Essential Ways to Prepare for the IIoT

Meagan Douglas
Tue, Oct 31, 2017
The IIoT is poised to disrupt the supply chain. Is your business ready?
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is around the corner. Is your supply chain ready for the influx of devices and data types on the horizon?

Between 2015 and 2022, the sector is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 7.89 percent, MarketsandMarkets found. That rapid rise is only going to escalate looking even further ahead, as Grand View Research predicts a CAGR of more than 25 percent for the 2017 to 2025 period. By 2025, the IIoT sector will be valued at approximately $933.62 billion, a major increase from $100 billion in 2016.

Businesses need to get moving if they want to be ready for the emergence of the IIoT. Three critical steps to take in preparing for the IIoT are:

1. Get Barcode Scanning in Order

"Businesses need to get moving if they want to be ready for the emergence of the IIoT."

Barcode scanners and similar mobile data collection devices lay a foundation for streamlined, user-friendly data gathering. The IIoT may allow for more precise monitoring of assets and make it easier to automate some data collection processes, but human input will likely still be necessary well into the future. In many cases, IIoT advances are made through strategic projects that solve specific pain points and come together, over time, to create a more unified IIoT setup.

As businesses begin to explore where they can use IIoT effectively now, they must ensure their core mobile data collection capabilities are in place so they don't miss a beat as they work to automate. Effective serialization, labeling and barcode scanning is going to be critical when assets and data start moving through the supply chain at the blistering pace enabled by the IIoT.

2. Fill Data Integration Gaps

An IIoT strategy is only able to create value in proportion to the extent to which organizations can make the data gathered by IIoT devices actionable. Because of this, gaps between various software platforms used within the organization can become crippling. For example, if an IIoT sensors transmits data through the network directly to a drone, but is not integrated with the ERP, organizations then need to jump through technical hoops to figure out what is happening at the facility at any given time. This problem is further complicated when dealing with remote facilities that may face spotty network connectivity.

Integration with ERP systems and similar technologies is essential in providing a full picture of what is happening across the entire supply chain. It is especially important as more processes are automated through the IIoT, as the humans overseeing all of these computerized devices and robots will need to understand what is going on to make strategic decisions. Similarly, this highly connected environment makes any outage particularly damaging, so systems must be in place to synchronize and manage data from remote facilities quickly in the event of any network disruption.

3. Consider Emerging Technologies

"The IIoT is set to completely disrupt how employees collect, view and use data."

The IIoT is set to completely disrupt how employees collect, view and use data. With that in mind, businesses must seriously consider how emerging technologies can help them adjust their workflows and expectations around worker data access. Augmented reality glasses, for example, are becoming more accessible in terms of price and functionality, and they could be a natural fit for organizations considering the IIoT.

Click here to download the white paper, Making the Case for Wearable Tech in the Warehouse.

AR glasses can use voice picking functionality to let workers carry items with both hands - instead of holding onto a mobile device. Furthermore, the technology can create a data heads-up-display to show important information in a user's line of sight instead of forcing somebody to look at handheld devices to access data. These types of features lay a strong safety foundation for warehouses diving into the IIoT by letting employees integrate data into their operations without facing as much distraction.

The IIoT is on the horizon, and it's time for businesses to get to work if they want to be ready before their competitors charge ahead.

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