These days, it seems everywhere you look in the world of manufacturing people are talking about the Industrial Internet of Things. The promises of offering the next great leap in productivity are certainly compelling – and I would argue real.
But where will this great leap in productivity come from? The answer lies in the data. In many cases, this data is the same data that many industries have been collecting for years. In some industries it has been collected for decades. But data and innovation are two very different things. The potential of the Industrial Internet of Things lies in its potential to finally enable turning those untapped years of data into meaningful, actionable insight.
At TwinThread, we believe there are two levels, to Digital Innovation. The asset level, and the fleet level.
The first level, the asset level, which has been evolving for some time, is the use of data to gain information, insight, and ultimately productivity, from a specific factory’s machines and production lines. The data here holds the answers to questions about how the various equipment within the factory and allows for troubleshooting, and improving, those assets. This is powerful and valuable stuff! This level is all about attempting to optimize a specific machine, and specific production line to the highest degree possible.
The second level, the fleet level, is where TwinThread plays. Simply put, this level is all about using the power of comparison to identify even greater opportunities for improvement. Here, rather than looking at a particular asset, we look at a class of similar assets – a fleet. So now, rather than looking at an asset and how it operates in isolation, or within a production line, we are instead looking at that asset and how well it performs relative to its peers. No matter what production line, factory, or even potentially corporation, that asset happens to reside in. We are now able to ask questions about why a specific asset in Factory A is running so much more poorly than another asset that is running on the other side of the world in Factory B. We call this process the Wisdom of the Fleet.
But the Wisdom of the Fleet doesn’t stop there. Once we identify that an issue does exist with a particular asset, and we figure out how to solve it, we can then ask the fleet if that same situation potentially occurs elsewhere in the fleet. Now, instead of having to find and troubleshoot problems individually, we are able to do so on a fleet wide basis. The Wisdom of the Fleet not only allows us to identify problems, it also empowers us to scale out the solution to all relevant assets within our fleet.
The Wisdom of the Fleet has the potential to be transformative to a wide variety of applications. Equipment Manufacturers have the potential to provide a new value added service to their customers. Imagine a pump manufacturer that not only provided its customers with a new pump, but also a value added service to identify problems and solutions preventing that pump from operating to its optimum. Or imagine a global manufacturer who can now proactively manage and optimize its fleet of assets globally, rather than in isolation in each of their manufacturing facilities.