In a previous post, we discussed how scale is a big part of the potential of IIoT. After all, in order to gain wisdom from your fleet, you need to have a fleet to begin with, right? So where does this leave smaller corporations with only a few production lines and relatively few similar assets?
Interestingly, the IIoT age has the potential to help out smaller corporations in much the same way as the big guys out there. The difference is in the way the technologies are applied.
As we have discussed previously, we believe the biggest improvements that the IIoT age will deliver will be realized by leveraging the ability to compare the relative performance of similar assets and identify ways to drive all assets to perform at similar levels to those assets that have demonstrated the best performance. At first glance, this does indeed seem to suggest that in order to benefit from this potential, you must have a lot of the same assets to use for comparison. Something most smaller manufacturers do not tend to have.
But if you re-frame your perspective from inside your own four walls to look at the global market overall, you actually do have a lot of assets that have the potential for this type of optimisation. Chances are that your factory is filled with equipment purchased from Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). Whether that equipment is a pump, electric motor, or even a more sophisticated piece of packaging equipment, chances are that same equipment is installed in factories large and small throughout the world. It is here that your opportunity lies.
OEMs are beginning to explore ways to offer value added services in addition to just supplying their equipment. And IIoT provides them with just that. By offering to continually monitor the equipment they provide to you, the OEMs are able to do the very thing you can not do on your own. Leverage the Wisdom of their Fleet. By offering these services, the OEM will suddenly have a wealth of insight into running conditions and failure causes of their equipment running in the field. This provides the OEM with a number of potential opportunities:
- Design new products designed to run more efficiently and reliably.
- Offer warranties with a much greater certainty of the costs and risks associated with doing so.
- Offer service contracts for the field maintenance of their equipment.
- Provide engineering services to their customers providing insight into how to improve runnability of their equipment.
In many cases, the OEMs will offer the above offerings for a fee. But arguably, the potential exists where these services have the potential to allow your factory to run at far greater efficiency that would be possible on its own.
Of course, typically, a factory will have equipment supplied from a number of different OEMs. This in all likelihood means that you will have a number of different monitoring / service contracts with your various suppliers. But who better to monitor, understand, and support you that the actual manufacturer or supplier of the equipment? It is like having experts in each of your equipment available on standby to help ensure it is always running at its optimum. We call this the network effect.
As OEMs, and in some cases specialized Service Providers, begin to leverage the power of IIoT, more and more of your equipment will become part of a network of similar assets. As OEMs begin offering Value Added Services around these assets, the opportunity for smaller manufacturers to benefit from the Wisdom of the Fleet will become too compelling to ignore.