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Digital Thread: 5 Ways to Drive Value in Industrial Enterprise

In the industrial market place, the prevalence of connected devices through the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is expanding the possibilities of the digital thread. Streamlining and democratizing this information to specific functions drives attainable value from engineering through sales and marketing.

What is a digital thread?

A digital thread is a single source of data truth, creating consistency, collaboration, and alignment across functions. It does this by enabling real-time data synchronization of related upstream and downstream derivative information.

The scalable, common set of democratized data enables enterprise-wide accessibility and creates continuity across functions in the value chain.

Below we dissect five ways the digital thread is driving value across the industrial enterprise.

1. Designing with 360-view of product-lifecycle.

Much of the digital thread value recognized is derived from the democratization of the digital product definition and its derivative information. By bringing relevant product data downstream to manufacturing processes, business are able to develop higher-quality products and increase throughput.

On the opposite end, engineering excellence can be achieved as an input of other functional data. By creating a closed feedback loop and enabling products with IoT, engineers equipped with real-world performance and usage data can replace assumptions with facts.

Previously black-boxed data can do three things: inform engineers and product designers with design implications for future product iterations, expedite time-to-market, and introduce new products faster.

2. Differentiating product and service with increased flexibility.

Creating and enhancing business models as well as differentiating product & service offerings (25% of Forrester business decision-makers cite this as a DX driver) are sought-after outcomes of industrial digital transformation.

Using the digital thread to synchronize product lifecycle information across processes enables mass customization – an increasingly important capability for manufacturers.

For example, Volvo’s engines (full disclosure: Volvo is a customer of my employer, PTC) can have 4,500 different information variants to choose from within a single plant. When performing timely quality assurance, its definition data must be easily accessible by QA operators.

By implementing a digital thread that connects two very different parts of the business, Volvo has been able to quickly adjust to shifting customer requirements and increase new product introduction (NPI) cycle times.

3. Driving manufacturing efficiency by connecting disparate systems.

Digitized and non-digitized information resides in manufacturing facilities, and both are critical to daily production. The digital thread provides the means to both connect disparate digitized information sources (including ERP systems and IoT-enabled machines). They can deliver traditionally paper-based information (such as work instructions) to relevant personnel.

Real-time operational visibility across production lines, assets, capacity, and other systems are required to drive operational efficiencies. 451 Research cites 53% of manufacturing respondents currently use or will use digital thread for faster access to cross plant instrumentation and status.

Properly equipping this instrumentation through technologies and then streamlining it through the digital thread can drive these critical manufacturing KPIs.

For delivering the digital thread, democratizing manufacturing data to various factory roles can improve worker productivity and efficiencies by offering previously hidden insights.

4. Identifying new ways to deliver service.

Service networks and lifecycles are increasingly complex, coinciding with the rise in product complexity. Customized products may benefit top-line revenue but become a cost center downstream if the service component is improperly managed.

The digital thread alleviates this complexity by giving the service technician the deployed assets definition data traditionally solely residing in the engineering department. Augmented reality is increasingly the emerging technology to link the digital thread to the physical world and improve technician effectiveness and critical KPIs, including mean-time-to-repair and first-time-fix-rate.

PTC customer Howden [Howden.com] is driving added-value to its customers through its connected field maintenance program, Uptime. This ‘self-service’ module gives service technicians step-by-step service instructions on a deployed asset almost immediately, circumventing product complexity challenges.

5. Enriching the sales and marketing experience.

Customer-facing personnel are constantly looking for new methods of engagement and ways to provide novel opportunities for new sales and upselling. The possibilities include both knowing the customer’s current usage of products and demonstrating the potential use of future products. The digital thread provides an avenue for both.

Through IIoT, sales and marketing teams can determine the exact usage of their smart connected products, pre-formulate their potential pain points, and identify opportunities.

Through the digital thread and augmented reality, sales teams can demonstrate product configurations in real-time to drive revenue opportunities. More immersive experiences for customers to visualize and learn about the products drive engagement and enhances customer experience.

Digital Thread: Pervasive Across the Value Chain

These five outcomes occur as digital thread value, and its pervasiveness extends throughout the value chain. However, while a long-term vision is advisable, short-term digital thread wins in specific domains for industrial organizations are achievable today.

These digital threads wins will gain momentum as additional stakeholders recognize compounding value.

David Immerman

David Immerman is a Senior Research Analyst at PTC providing thought leadership on technologies, trends, markets, and other topics. Previously David was an industry analyst in 451 Research’s Internet of Things channel primarily covering the smart transportation space and automotive technology markets, including fleet telematics, connected cars, and autonomous vehicles. He also spent time researching IoT-enabling technologies and other industry verticals including industrial. Prior to 451 Research, David conducted market research at IDC.

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How IoT Reshapes Industry 4.0 and the Effects of IoT on SMEs

The Internet of Things — or IoT as we know it — has introduced a new era of connectivity. From autonomous vehicles to smart kitchen appliances, IoT technology aims to create vast networks of connected devices. It has been considered a colossal milestone in the development of modern technology and has the potential to revolutionize the business landscape.

IoT-enabled management systems are a boon for small business owners. With many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) struggling to stay afloat, those that have incorporated advanced IoT systems into their daily processes have seen great benefits.

However, despite the potential of IoT to bring sustainable growth and address or eliminate issues within a business operation, some SME owners remain in the dark about how IoT technology could help them and their business.

Industry 4.0 is a new phase in the Industrial Revolution that heavily focuses on various technologies that will have a significant impact on all types of business operations. There is automation, machine learning, and interconnectivity.

Internet of Things will play a key role in the development of Industry 4.0 with its ability to connect physical devices to digital platforms to create a more suited environment for manufacturing and supply chain management.

While every industry operates on a different level, IoT is the common solution to face the upcoming challenges such as connectivity, real-time data flow and maintaining a vast network of “smart” devices.

Industrial Uses of IoT

What’s the core benefit of IoT?

The IoT has introduced a new way of thinking when it comes to connectivity and the potential of connected devices. With the ability to connect devices at a higher level and transmit information at greater speeds, companies of all sizes are able to utilize IoT-enabled systems to improve their business operations.

Once, the term connectivity was reserved for computers and smartphones. Today, the list of items with the ability to interact with each other, and exchange information over the cloud. Currently, the remote operation has extended to everything from smart heating systems that can be controlled via a mobile device to smart frying pans that can prepare your food just the way you like.

Want dinner ready before you even arrive home? You can have that done remotely, by phone, too.

IoT systems consist of a set of sensors and “smart” devices that, in a sense, talk to each other over the cloud. Sensors and devices detect the changes in the condition of their environment or collect the requested data from their designated target for the software to process, and then decide on an automated response such as issuing an alert to the responsible parties.

IoT is essentially about gathering information and using the accumulative data to improve existing business practices and promote machine-to-machine communication. Although an advanced management system can seem like a big investment for small companies, the quick ROI and drastically reduced expenses mean that IoT systems basically pay for themselves.

When Magnet 360 moved into their new office building and required an upgrade to their HVAC system, local IoT startup 75F built a sensor network for the company that cut their energy costs by up to 70%.

Different industries have different problems, and many IoT systems have been developed to accommodate their needs. Below are just some of the ways IoT systems can help different types of business.

1 – Logistics

Regardless of their size, distribution and transportation operations can be a logistical nightmare. The requirements of the transportation industry and the expectations of consumers have evolved to the point that it is no longer possible to simply plan for a series of pick-ups and hope for the best.

An experienced transport manager could plan a reasonably efficient route and attain an acceptable result a few decades ago but today, regulatory laws such as GDPR affect everything from driver hours to how IoT and telematics data are used in fleet procedures.

Compliance with the regulations as well as last-minute adjustments makes delivery schedules and transport routes more complicated than they used to be. Their complex nature is exacerbated by the huge amount of information that needs to be conveyed to coordinate different branches of a business.

IoT technology enables enhanced data flow by building a network of devices that can connect and share data. What’s more, IoT-based fleet management systems can significantly improve fuel economy, increase vehicle uptime, and boost vehicle and driver safety through continuous vehicle monitoring.

How IoT Helps in Automation and Manufacturing

2 – Manufacturing

Coordinating the manufacturing of goods can be tedious without the right tools. Effective resource management is particularly important for SMEs, as they typically have limited resources that they cannot afford to waste.

IoT technology allows businesses to oversee their manufacturing processes in detail so that they can identify existing issues and any areas that could be improved. IoT technology can be applied to ensure proper asset usage, extend equipment service life, and provide the highest possible ROI on assets.

58% of manufacturers surveyed agreed that IoT technology was required for them to transform their industrial operations; however, the biggest obstacle preventing the adoption of IoT systems is cost.

The data gathered by the IoT devices can be used to program assembly lines to work in unison. Production output will increase as a result of the improved workflow, additionally, collected data and sensitive sensors will allow for automated fail-safes and proactive maintenance measures to be introduced.

The global usage of IoT in manufacturing is estimated to reach $45 billion USD by 2022 due to the increasing number of intelligent connected devices all over the globe.

3 – Productivity

SMEs usually have different goals and quotas to large businesses, but the basic principles are always the same: increase productivity, and revenue will increase as a result. The emergence of highly sophisticated IoT-enabled devices has had a massive impact on business productivity.

Company managers now have access to accurate and actionable data on-demand, which significantly improves decision-making processes and helps them to respond promptly to important events and emergencies.

There are several ways IoT systems can make SMEs more productive: improving collaboration between departments, streamlining fleet operations, lowering operational costs, tracking the movements of vehicles, and many other benefits.

IoT systems are so powerful in this aspect, they are expected to generate $1.2 trillion to USD worldwide through improved productivity over the next decade. Companies can utilize information gathered by IoT-enabled devices to deliver their products faster, reach their target quotas more consistently, and improve their supply chain.

With more jobs completed and the accurate estimated time of arrivals, SMEs can improve productivity, have a happier customer base, and ultimately generate more money to invest in their business.

Preventive Maintenance

4 – Maintenance

Keeping company assets adequately maintained is a crucial but often a complex task. For example, without proper servicing, commercial vehicles may break down during transport, causing unexpected downtime. This could spell doom for an SME without a robust contingency plan.

What’s more, heavy-duty vehicles and vehicles on the road for long hours tend to suffer damage at an accelerated rate.

IoT-enabled car trackers can detect and transmit malfunctions before they lead to more serious situations. The devices connect through the OBD-II port, giving them access to engine error codes and diagnostic reports.

OBD-II is an onboard computer that monitors vehicle data such as mileage, speed, and emissions, it can be accessed via a 16-pin port that is usually located under the driver’s side dash.  Analyzing these diagnostic reports is key to identifying which vehicles need repairs and when to schedule preventive maintenance.

Research from Volvo shows that IoT-enabled preventive maintenance solutions can reduce diagnostic times by up to 70%, with a 25% reduction in repair times. Proper maintenance can help assets outperform their operational efficiency.

5 – Consumer Satisfaction

IoT systems can provide SMEs with accurate, real-time information to their customers. On-time shipments are a necessity for retaining and extending a customer base. Customers are understandably frustrated when an order has a long delivery time or extended delays. And unfortunately, shipments sometimes get lost or suffer damage during transport.

Damage and loss are especially problematic when shipping perishable goods, that need to be kept in a controlled environment until delivery. IoT-enabled devices can be augmented with sensors that can detect even the smallest changes in the condition of cargo or the vehicle itself.

As well as ensuring the integrity of shipments, IoT-enabled devices can help companies keep their customers informed with precise condition data and real-time delivery information. By keeping customers updated and keeping a steady flow of information about their shipments,  businesses will see an increase in their ROI by retaining their existing customers as well as attracting new customers with their top-end quality of service.

Matt Schron, the general manager of Jergens Industrial Supply — a distributor of industrial products including safety glasses, drills, and boots — revealed that integrating IoT systems into his business helped to boost sales, lower customer costs, and improve customer satisfaction.

Jergens used IoT technology to improve their customer experience by speeding up the approval process for when their frontline workers need safety glasses and other items.

When a “smart button” is pressed on one of the racks, shelves or other locations, one of the on-site managers is alerted to approve the request by connecting to one of the wireless networks.

6 – Security and Safety

In 2017 alone, there were over 4,000 workplace deaths that could have been prevented with proper maintenance and better control over the work environment. IoT solutions offer significant advantages for the safety and security of a company’s workforce, property and goods, and vehicles and cargo.

IoT solutions can automate many security procedures and identify security flaws within an operation, helping to eliminate any vulnerabilities. Employees who feel safe and protected are frequently more productive, which can dramatically improve profit margins.

IoT-enabled fleet management systems that monitor and manage a fleet remotely provide real-time access to the location of vehicles and instant alerts in the event of accidents and emergencies, which can greatly enhance driver safety and reduce response times to accidents and emergencies.

From collision avoidance to remote immobilization, there are countless safety-enhancing innovations to look forward to.

The technology of the future – Conclusion

The Internet of Things has truly reshaped the way SMEs can conduct their operations. Technology plays a big part in managing the different aspects of a business and enhancing the quality of services. The benefits associated with IoT devices are essential for SMEs to transition into the digital age of business management.

While their business model may heavily rely on smart technologies such as AI, it doesn’t necessarily mean these small businesses are equipped with the right set of tools to manage their logistics operations and communication between different branches.

With minimal investment, IoT solutions [rewiresecurity.co.uk] can help companies improve their operational capacity, reduce expenses, and manage their resources better, giving rapid ROI. In addition, IoT solutions can be utilized to create a safer work environment, with real-time event alerts and on-demand access to vehicle and driver location data. While larger enterprises are among the pioneers of the IoT revolution, SMEs can also reap the benefits of building a sophisticated network of connected devices.

Ekim Saribardak

Chief Technology Officer

Ekim Saribardak is the CTO of Rewire Security. Ekim is a highly motivated IT professional involved in GPS, Drones and autonomous vehicles. He has been a technology geek since 1990 – the first time he had his hand on a computer – and he has been involved in technology and gadgets since. He is a computer programmer with 20 years of experience in developing web/desktop software as well as leading projects and managing research & development teams. He is a Google certified web development, analytics and marketing expert and a certified drone operator. He spends his free time shooting aerial landscape photos and videos.

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How to Apply IoT in the Oil and Gas Industry

The Internet of Things has found its way into various industries: automotive, agriculture, green energy. One of the areas that IoT is about to conquer is the oil and gas world. Today, companies hire plant managers, machine operators, and field personnel to predict when machines need maintenance and upkeep. These managers monitor IoT to keep employees safe in the work environment and to improve production.

McKinsey Global Institute’s research indicates that IoT has the potential to attract $11.1T by 2025.

Mining and the oil and gas companies have a potential economic impact of $930B within the next decade. As such, it doesn’t surprise anyone that the Oil and Gas industry is interested in leveraging IoT?

Why use IoT in the oil and gas industry?

In the Oil and Gas industry, the advantages of oil and gas IoT applications lie in creating value through an integrated deployment strategy. IoT will allow the industry to digitize, optimize, and automate processes that were previously unconnected to save time, money, and increase safety.

IoT is the technology that allows devices, machinery, and other equipment to communicate with each other. It lets oil and gas companies manage and store data, create applications, and set security protocols.

Preventive Maintenance

Companies hire plant managers, machine operators to predict when machinery needs maintenance. With IoT, you can accurately predict when maintenance has to be done, and you can keep your employees safe while improving production.

For oil and gas companies, IoT run software tells the manager when to repair the machinery, and alerts them when something is likely to break. It is essential in the Oil and Gas industry to protect all equipment — including watching out of any leaks and even minor breaks. IoT can handle all alerts. Just lean back and let the Internet of Things do its thing.

Remote Services

Oil and Gas are generally found in the remote areas of the globe that are hard to reach areas. The isolated terrain leads to problems with the upkeep of equipment, and any extraction needs from the sites in remote locations cause increased risks. IoT helps with:

  • Safety needs of both the employees and the equipment.
  • High prices for maintaining equipment.
  • Saves on the high expenses for the workers.
  • It provides less chance of human error.

What IoT allows for is that oil and gas companies are being able to remotely manage everything on their plants at any time. IoT can help manage and provide alerts for issues from minor leaks to system breakdowns. Companies can set the monitoring devices on their machines to take care of everything.

The biggest threat to all industries.

The most significant threat to all industries — one that makes companies lose billions of dollars every year, is Non-Productive time (NPT).

When workers and employees are not required to be on-site observing equipment and monitoring issues it saves vast amounts of time and money. That’s what IoT has done for the Oil and Gas industry.

Safety

Oil and gas sites are generally dangerous for workers’ well being and safety. Included with the oil and gas industries is water. Another high-cost area of service. Some reservoirs are up to 3,000 meters deep and many are far offshore. Dangerous circumstances are always involved in the water industry, as well as in oil and gas.

Using IoT in these areas at remote sites can prevent health issues, injuries, or even save lives.

Case study: Applying IoT in the oil, gas, and water industries.

The digitalization of IoT in the oil, gas, and water industries. IoT has saved a lot of money and provided greater protection for remote workers and employees who have to remain far from civilization without support.

Before IoT — there was only the desktop app.

Of course, desktop apps are still a thing, but not as much for remote maintenance cases. Desktop solutions work for in-house needs, where either security matters, or that involve end-to-end tasks.

The businesses of the client revolved around RFScada units. These data delivery devices work great for industrial areas. RFScada units comprise the desktop app and phone apps that took over 16 years to develop. These devices are used for tracking and gathering data.

The first desktop app contains a whole lot of functionality and was super detailed, and too complex. The computer with the app had to be connected to the monitored gateway at all times. The portal, online, could be connected to a number of machines.

However, to see the data and track if anything was outside the expected ranges — a person would have to look on the screen and watch the tracking. This process was not very convenient. Remote locations, nighttime, and problems when monitoring moving cargo — all were issues that had difficulties to solve.

Finally, the request was made to turn the entire system into a web platform that brings the best of IoT to oil, gas, water, and other industrial areas.

Turning the constraints into advantages.

From a business standpoint, RFSCADA is a great system for enterprises, but it had a hard start in development. The solution took some considerable constraint and workarounds but came out with a legacy system with a mix of cutting-edge IoT offerings.

The beginning challenges.

  • Design scalable and easy maintainable architecture for the platform.
  • Simplify the flows for different user roles yet maintain in-company and in-system security.
  • Developed a user-friendly way for updating firmware via UI.
  • Wrote a compatibility script on Lua that generates configuration updates for firmware based on changes a user makes.
  • Found a reliable gateway to process data and relay that data to and from the needed devices.
  • The RFScada gateway system also works with cellular traffic.
  • Able to analyze what is needed and cut all unneeded data.
  • Data has been prioritized for the simplicity of the users.

With limited time, this system went through the MVP approach. All functionality was sorted, and the main component was selected for the main components that would be used for future platforms. The primary purpose has always been to make this IoT system adoption as easy as possible to work with.

IoT web platform for monitoring and managing plants remotely

With a minimalist design concept, one of the main perks of using IoT in oil, gas, or any other industry lies with minimum effort for the user. In the system, you configure everything once, and you’re done — you’ll get notifications when needed. You only need to return when making configuration updates, and most of these are simple, time-saving, and automated.

The new digitized IoT system includes:

  • Registered number of users with individual access rights
  • Ability for the lead engineers and plant owners to configure the needed monitoring.
  • Regular workers have the ability, if given access, to track the plants they’re assigned to.
  • Configuring sensors attached for each unit.
  • Specific parameters (including hierarchy, measuring frequency, and type) and conversions in common measurement units.
  • Text message and call alarms.
  • Users receive a timely alert in case of spikes on any sensor. The user acknowledges the receipt of the warning so the system can shut down if needed.
  • All data and events are logged, as well as the complementary configurations.

For each sensor, the user can configure the acceptable, risk, and danger range and also set up impressions for tracking. This variety leaves parameters created in the flexible dashboard and allows differing widget types.

Conclusion

IoT handles a lot of routine scenarios for everything. That’s why we love applying it to simplify work and leisure — making time for more intellectual pursuits.

Thanks for reading. Please feel free to write a word of two of what topics you’d like to read about.

Vova Shevchyk

Vova Shevchyk

Managing Partner at Indeema Software

Vova is Managing Partner of Indeema Software, a company that develops IoT solutions from idea to production. Vova is an expert in applying IoT into new industries and has consulted many businesses on this. He can be reached at volodymyr.shevchyk@indeema.com

Source: ReadWrite

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Guide to Understanding Lean and Six Sigma for Manufacturing

Lean and Six Sigma is an excellent combination of two powerful and improved business process strategies. There are multiple ways in which manufacturing companies can accomplish their goals. by adopting Lean and Six Sigma. They would not only be able to exceed the expectations of customers but would also minimize cost, maximize profits, and build an efficient workforce.

Lean and Six Sigma can benefit the manufacturing companies, but you’ll want to understand each of the tools individually.

Defining Lean

Lean is basically a guiding principle that defines the behavior of people that helps in improving the process as a whole. Adopting this lean methodology not only involves continuous improvement, but it also enhances the focus of the customer on the optimized flow of information.

Lean helps in achieving small yet incremental changes that positively change the speed, quality, and efficiency. Though it eliminates the waste tasks but adds no value to the customer or business as a whole.

Some of the waste tasks which can be eliminated using Lean methodology include:

  1. Error – Work that contains defect and error, needs to be reworked as it is not up to the business requirements.
  2. Excess production – Production of surplus which is much more than what is actually required.
  3. Reduce waiting – It lessens the waiting time for materials, equipment.
  4. Inventory – It reduces the overstocking of supplies.
  5. Transportation – Unnecessary transport of materials.
  6. Motion – Time that gets wasted because of excessive motion.
  7. Over process – Doing tasks that are not really required.

As Lean helps in reducing all these wastage’s, it helps you establish refined goals for your business.

Defining Six Sigma

The Six Sigma specifies a series of phases in order to reach the root causes of the problem, eliminating the impact, and making sure that the solution is sustained.

The Six Sigma technique mainly makes use of five tools, which are — Define Measure Analyse Improve Control, also known as DMAIC.

Six Sigma is used to makes business processes much more streamlined and effective by applying statistical methods. The statistical method also helps in reducing variation. It basically provides a structured method to an organization that helps to fix complex and chronic problems.

Mr. Peter Peterka, President of Global Six Sigma, stresses the importance of Six Sigma in strategic planning, “We understand that the better an organization manages processes and changes, the more successful they are. Six Sigma leaders must be actively engaged and connected during strategic planning so they can more effectively apply the methodology.”

Lean and Six Sigma in the manufacturing industry

Lean helps in achieving small yet incremental changes that positively changes the speed, quality, and efficiency. The Six Sigma specifies a series of phases to reach the root causes of the problem. These series of phases eliminate the impact and make sure that the solution is sustained.

The main aim of this technique includes improving the conditions of the manufacturing industry as a whole. It not only quantifies but also measures the financial returns of any given project.

These features help in defining the roles and responsibilities of everyone working in a team for enhancing the efficiency of the manufacturing process in a given organization. Lean Six Sigma also ensures that the manufacturing process has minimum defects, thus ensuring the quality of the produced goods.

The benefits of Lean Six Sigma can be summed up in the following points:

  1. It improves customer satisfaction and their experience – This improves the state of the company and its integrity as a whole. The tools help in achieving the organizational goals at a much faster rate.

    The faster rate can be achieved by reducing the defective pieces factory. The lesser the defects, the more time and cost would be saved, and hence customers will receive their products sooner.

  2. Boosts productivityThe efficiency of employees would improve as they will start to feel that they are contributing to the growth of the company. It helps in motivating and engaging the employees towards their work.
  3. Improves planning and execution – The tool helps in planning various strategies for the organization as a whole. It helps the company to reach its goals. Each organization carries out its own analysis for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT ). The analysis then helps the organization to identify the quality they possess.

    The analysis helps the company focus and improve on any weaknesses, and convert these into strengths.

    The tools can be implemented to reduce costs by eliminating all the production complexities.

  4. Minimizes errors – Suppliers play a very vital role in the manufacturing process of each organization. They directly influence the productivity of the company as a whole.

    In case there is a delay in the delivery of raw materials by them, then there would be a delay in the whole production cycle. Lean Six Sigma lowers the error levels. Thus the suppliers for each process can be reduced effectively.

  5. Speeds up turnaround times – The amount of time taken for the manufacturing process as a whole known as cycle time can be reduced with the help of Lean Six Sigma.

    When a company wants to increase its productivity, it would need to lower its cycle time. But one thing that companies should avoid is proceeding without proper planning.

    Proper planning can lead to solving complex problems before they begin. This includes understanding the crossing of deadlines and preserving customer relationships before they become strained.

    By going on with the principles of Lean Six Sigma, companies can easily lower the cycle time and deliver products at a much faster rate.

Lean Six Sigma has become popular in recent times as a consequence of its high success rates. Organizations around the world adopt these tools and techniques.

Organizations putting Lean Six Sigma to use are on the way to reaching their goals and organizational vision.

Leslie Wilder

I’m a Creative Writer, I’m also a a self-proclaimed happiness junkie,and someone you would generally consider confident and well balanced. I would say it is more accurate to say that I live a normal life along with all the usual stresses that come with life and running a business. But. no matter how messy my hair is, or how much falling apart I seem to be doing at the moment, I LOVE IT ALL!

Source: ReadWrite

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How Blockchain is Revolutionizing the Supply Chain Industry

The Supply chain has transformed, and companies have not updated the underlying technology for managing them in decades. With Blockchain technology, companies can rebuild their approach to supply chain management at the ecosystem level and go from the island of insight to an integrated global view.

“At its most basic level, the core logic of blockchains means that no piece of inventory can exist in the same place twice.”

-Paul Brody
EY Global Innovation Blockchain Leader

Here are some ideas on how Blockchain is revolutionizing the supply chain industry.

Everyone loves to hate middleman, but it turns out they are really useful. Until the advent of bitcoin and blockchain technology, the only way you could get a large number of entities to agree upon a shared, truthful set of data(such as who owns how much money).

This was for appointing an impartial intermediary to process and account for all transactions. Blockchain makes it possible for ecosystems of business partners to share and agree upon key pieces of information. Facebook’s Libra is also using blockchain technology.

Instead of having a central intermediary, blockchains synchronize all data and transactions across the network and each participant verifies the work and calculations of others. This enormous amount of redundancy and crosschecking is why financial solutions like Bitcoin are so secure and reliable.

Even as they synchronize hundreds of thousands of transactions across thousands of network nodes every week.

“The Core logic of blockchain applied to the supply chain”

The radically new approach to supply chain management.

Apply the same security and redundancy to something like inventory — and substitute supply chain partners for banking nodes. You’ll have the foundation for a radically new approach to supply chain partners for banking nodes. You’ll also have the foundation for a radically new approach to supply chain management.

The use cases for this new way of working are compelling.

At its most basic level, the core logic of blockchain means that no piece of inventory can exist in the same place twice. Move a product from finished goods to in-transit, and that transaction status will update for everyone, everywhere, within minutes.

With Blockchain you have full traceability back to the point of origin.

Before diving into the pool of ” How Blockchain is Revolutionizing the Supply Chain Industry” let’s take a brief look at the definition of Supply Chain and Blockchain.

Blockchain

blockchain process
Basic RM Blockchain Process

Most people have heard the phrase, “Blockchain is the greatest invention since the Internet ” or ” Everything will be Blockchain in a few years.”

These phrases tend to leave people more confused then they were previously. Blockchain is a decentralized, distributed database that holds digital records securely. Furthermore, although all records are transparent and accessible to the public, they are not altered, deleted or edited.

All data inserted into the blockchain remains impaired permanently. Each transaction or record inserted in the Blockchain registers a different “Block” on the chain.

Basically, Blockchain provides a method of record-keeping which is highly secure and more efficient for businesses/individuals to work with. BlockChain along with Ai is also helping to shape the future of robotics in various ways.

Robotics Programming Language for robotics uses AI and blockchain together can add efficiency to autonomous cars, or they can help in bitcoin mining.

Supply Chain Management (SCM)

supply chain management

Nowadays we have the luxury of having ready-made, high-quality products right on our doorstep. It’s easy to go to a store, buy a shirt, and not think of where that shirt came from or how it was manufactured. That shirt came from how it was manufactured.

For that shirt or product to make it store shelves it must go through plenty of hands stemming all the way from the provider of the raw materials, to the retailer who is giving you the ready-made product.

The process which links all the parties involved in delivering you the ready-made product is called the Supply Chain.

Logistics is a huge aspect of Supply Chain Management.

Products are shipped, stored in warehouses, and go through customs. The entire process is time consuming, costly, and many times complicated. In addition, since global trade involves dealing with foreign organizations, importers and exporters may have to deal with political outcomes, international law, and high tariffs.

“Through blockchains, companies gain a real-time digital ledger of transactions and movements for all participants in their supply chain network. But don’t let the simplicity of the tool overshadow how transformational it is.”

Paul Brody
EY Global Innovation Blockchain Leader

Blockchain Stepping In

Some of the most urgent issues facing supply chains can be addressed through blockchain technology, as it provides novel ways to record, transmit, and share data.

In essence, a blockchain is a unique database system created and maintained by participants in a decentralized network. It offers a secure and reliable architecture for conveying information and transactions ( e.g. the exchange of data and assets among participants in a supply chain), which can be recorded digitally.

As the distributed ledger is decentralized, each stakeholder maintains a copy, which prevents a single point of failure or data loss. This also means blockchains are highly resistant to altering or tampering. Such accurate and tamper-proof records secure data integrity and can be accessed to make regulatory compliance easier.

Ultimately, blockchain can increase the efficiency and transparency of supply chains and positively impact everything from warehousing to delivery to payment.

All parties involved from beginning to end in the supply chain will be aware as the product is transacted and handled from party to party at all times.

Through the implementation of Blockchain technology in the Supply Chain Industry, products can be tracked and traced throughout their entire process.

Traceable and Immutable Records

Blockchain data is immutable and digital signatures which require to confirm information ownership. If multiple companies work together they can use a blockchain system to record data about the location and ownership of their materials and products.

The data is stored in the blockchain, which offers a full history of all items in the supply chain. Any member of the supply chain can see what is going on as materials move from company to company. These data records cannot be altered and are highly Traceable.

In the event of a defective product, the source of the problem can be identified more quickly, which improves the efficiency of product recalls and disruption resolution between stakeholders in the chain.

Traceable and Immutable Records
Traceable and Immutable Records

Having a transparent and complete inventory of product flow help businesses make better decisions.

It gives stakeholders and customers more confidence in the products’ quality. The improved transparency is also a tool for fighting fraud and counterfeiting.

Cost Savings

Inefficiencies in the supply chain create a lot of waste. This is especially prevalent in industries that have perishable goods, such as the food industry.

The improved tracking and data transparency that blockchain offers can help the business identify. These wasteful inefficiencies so they can implement targeted cost-saving measures.

how block-chain works
Blockchain and how it works.

The use of blockchain can also eliminate fees associated with funds passing into and out of various bank accounts and payment processors. Such fees cut into profit margins, so being able to take them out of the equation is significant.

Interoperability

Interoperability

One of the problems with current supply chain technology is not being able to integrate data across every partner in the process.

In contrast, blockchains are built as distributed systems that maintain a unique and transparent data repository. Each party in the network contributes to adding new data and verifying its integrity.

This means that all parties involved in the network. So one company can easily verify the information being broadcasted by another.

Replacing Electronic Data Interchange Systems

Replacing Electronic Data Interchange Systems

Many companies rely on Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) systems to send information to each other. However, this data goes out in timed batches rather than in real-time.

If a shipment goes missing or changes in pricing, other participants in the supply chain will get this information by involving parties. Also, read how AI will shape the future of the internet.

Transparency

Transparency

The blockchain is a shared database that ensures honest transparency.

All partners have the responsibility to upload their information and data about the product. A digital collection of accurate data improves accountability and trust between partners. Blockchain technology can show updates to the product in mere minutes.

Everyone involved knows exactly where a product stands at all times. You can see exactly where a product is, how it’s being made, and when it will be delivered all in one place.

Streamlined

Streamlined

All of the logging involved with the digitally done blockchain.

This leads to less administrative work and more consistent and speedy data tracking. With the blockchain, you cut out the middleman and sign on to the blockchain to instantly download information. Everything is in one spot, making communication and operations highly streamlined.

The blockchain is global and scalable. The technology can support worldwide partnerships and communications just as fast as regional partnerships. This makes it the ideal solution for an economy of globalization.

Enhanced Analytics

Enhanced Analytics

The blockchain offers complex solutions to analyze the uploading data.

Blockchain can help create forecasts and predictions based on previous data, and it can allow users to pinpoint legs in the supply chain.

These data analytics are proving invaluable to companies who want to minimize supply chain expenditures and grow their businesses.

Customer Satisfaction

The blockchain technology can also use for boosting customer satisfaction. Business owners can use the blockchain database to see where items are in production and shipment to build a delivery timeline for their customers. It also has a social advantage.

A clothing brand with a dedication to fighting sweatshops may give their customers access to the blockchain. Showing them a social consciousness approval form, and a labor union sheet.

A World of Potential

The Wall Street Journal recently posted an article that exclaimed, “after initial tests, 12 of the world’s biggest companies, including Walmart and Nestle, are building a blockchain to remake how the industry tracks food worldwide.”

The blockchain is already revolutionizing the financial world. It’s only a matter of time until it takes over every other industry.

A technology like this is a generational technology, something that will change the way the world works. The blockchain technology will update a 200-year-old system which makes it more reliable, secure, and transparent.

Source: ReadWrite

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Assessing and Addressing the Industrial Skills Gap

As technological innovation gains momentum, digital skills gaps may widen. Eventually, if not addressed, digital skills gaps could stunt growth and slow innovation. Intel recently released a study that delves into manufacturing, Industry 4.0, and hurdles to future-proofing a business, including skills gaps or skills shortages.

Skills that are critical today may be different than those that are critical in the future. For instance, basic programming and software engineering, communication skills, traditional IT skills, and the ability to innovate (brainstorm, etc.) are valuable today, but, according to Intel, future critical skills will be more along the lines of deep programming and software engineering, digital dexterity, data science, connectivity, and cybersecurity.

Intel’s “Accelerate Industrial” study included interviews with more than 400 manufacturers and ecosystem technologists that support them. The research uncovered a skills gap that Intel says too many training programs and government investment initiatives are currently failing to address. In 2018, Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute released a report on the skills gap and the future of work. The research report predicted the skills gap in manufacturing would lead to 2.4 million unfilled positions between 2018 and 2028. It’s not just open jobs either; it’s a lack of skilled workers to step into those roles that make the situation even more difficult for industrial companies.

The Deloitte/Manufacturing Institute report projected the problem will get worse in the next several years, as many participating companies said they expect it to be three times as difficult to fill highly skilled positions at their companies in the next three years. Such roles include digital talent, skilled production, and operational managers. Economically, the study suggests by 2028, the talent shortage/skills gap in manufacturing could put more than $450 billion at risk if qualified workers don’ step up to fill these jobs.

While the IIoT (industrial Internet of Things) is becoming more accessible than ever before, the Accelerate Industrial study says two of three companies piloting digital manufacturing solutions fail to move into large-scale rollout. One in every three respondents (36%) cites “technical skill gaps” that prevent them from benefiting from their investment as a top challenge. A quarter of respondents (27%) cite “data sensitivity” from increasing concerns over data and IP privacy, ownership, and management as a challenge, while 23% say a lack of interoperability between protocols, components, products, and systems is an issue. Another 22% cite security threats as a top challenge, and 18% say scalability in terms of handling data growth and making sense of this data is a hurdle.

To bridge the technical skills gap that represents the top-rated perceived hurdle in the next several years, Intel suggests companies create programs that support life-long learning among the existing workforce, offer instruction in digital tools and skills that combine lecture and hands-on opportunities to practice, emphasize problem assessment and solving before solution implementation to prompt discussion and learning, and balance hiring external experts and internal staffing to grow the company’s digital dexterity. These suggestions are solid and could go a long way in helping manufacturers and other industrial companies address the pressing skills gap—a challenge most predict will get worse before it gets better.

Source: Connected World

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5 Trends Reshaping Folding Cartons

The worldwide demand for folding cartons is increasing, and with this increase comes the need for further innovation within the industry. Market demands are driving technological advances in folding cartons, reshaping the market to fit new trends. Consumer preferences are always evolving. Expectations have changed. Here are five trends reshaping the folding carton industry.

New technology and evolving consumer and market needs are trends reshaping the folding carton industry. From the need to meet environmental standards, fight counterfeit products, create eye-catching products.

Much is to be done to prevent contamination and integrate with broad technological trends, folding cartons are changing everything from production processes to materials used.

The desire for environmentally-friendly services and products continues to grow at the same time that new regulations are put into place to avoid counterfeit products. These challenges, as well as changes to printing techniques and industry requirements, create an ever-evolving landscape for folding cartons.

Internet of All Things — Smart Packaging

Traditional folding cartons are also seeing the impact of broader technological trends, such as the “Internet of Things” (IoT). Industries as diverse as transportation, healthcare, and public utilities are investing in this growing trend, and an astonishing 94% of businesses implementing IoT’s into their business have seen ROI.

Embedding digital technology into packaging allows for a variety of innovations that would have been unimaginable even ten years ago. Asset management, product tracking, quality control, and direct communication with customers can all be a part of folding cartons in the future.

Placing sensors into products and packaging can help aggregate information, providing never before seen data sets to help create more effective industry strategies. Beverage companies, for example, are capable of embedding digital content into their packaging to offer services and provide product information.

Anti-Counterfeit and Security Measures

Counterfeit products account for a large amount of the global black market. Scammers and criminals can mimic designs and packaging to deceive consumers and retard growth for legitimate business. Advances in the folding carton industry are catching up with counterfeiters and adding a layer of security to the global markets.

An area of growing concern is the pharmaceutical market. Concerns about product tampering throughout the supply chain, as well as counterfeiting of products, has led to the implementation of stricter global regulations in the form of the EU Falsified Medicines Directive 2011/62/EU.

This directive regulates the manufacturing, importing, and wholesale distribution of medicinal products within the EU, and has impacts for package makers throughout the supply chain.

Folding cartons now see demand for innovations such as 2D data matrix codes, tamper evidence fixtures, and potentially RFID technology. RFID labels are capable of first-open sensors that interface with smart technology, recording information such as temperature recordings and whether or not the package was opened.

Embedding anti-counterfeit and security measures into the folding carton process will continue to be a growing area of need.

Environmentally Friendly Packaging

Globally, markets are adopting more environmentally friendly techniques and products. Consumer demands are shifting in many areas, which require an evolution in the way folding cartons are developed and distributed. This evolution has most directly impacted the materials used for folding cartons.

Pressure from brands and consumers is leading to more eco-friendly carton materials. One of the most innovative trends comes in the form of non-wood pulp materials. Manufacturers are leaning into raw materials such as cocoa beans, hazelnuts and edamame beans as a substitute for conventional materials. Hot melt adhesives used to join packaging materials are likewise made from biodegradable and recyclable material.

One industry seeing a significant change is the beverage market, which accounts for 23.0% of the carton shipments, or 1.11 million tons (see: keystoneparts.com). The market has moved away dramatically from plastic packaging and towards renewable cardboards. Improvements in decorative carton-based multipacks see more environmentally-friendly solutions come to the fore.

Food Safety Advancements

Concerns of contaminants absorbing through packaging to food products and causing widespread food contamination is an increasing area of interest among food safety experts. The growing awareness of this issue is leading the folding carton process to adopt a range of safety options for the industry.

Improvements to the techniques applied during curtain coating and advancements in water-based coatings show that the industry is responding to these needs. The movement towards alternative packaging and away from expanded polystyrene is also serving this purpose.

The application of ink coatings during the printing process can create a well-designed, consumer-friendly product for the consumer. However, potential cross-contamination during this process, or from outer packaging, has been a growing concern. Evolving processes contain this issue using new technology, which provides a barrier to prevent contaminants from entering the food product.

Improved Printing and Decorating Techniques

While environmentally-friendly, contaminant-free and secure folding cartons serve a growing need, the end-user also requires an attractive, eye-catching product. Improvements to the folding carton industry have evolved in this area as well, particularly as new printing techniques emerge.

New printing technologies mean more colors and more finishes to meet consumer needs and better match brand identity. Digital printing in the form of laser and inkjet printers has improved to the point that the economics of the industry has changed. Higher quality graphics can now be produced at lower costs due to manufacturing advancements.

Special features such as hot foil stamping and registered embossing can also be included at lower costs when manufacturing folding cartons. This is now done without expensive tooling costs during short-runs. The result is a better quality product at an economical price, opening up folding cartons as an option of short-run products.

The evolution of these new techniques and features opens up new markets for the folding carton industry. Short-run projects mean that smaller producers, such as artisanal food providers, craft beers, distillers, and craft products, are now viable markets for folding cartons.

Reshaping Folding Cartons for Years to Come

The growth of technology will continue to evolve the way folding cartons are created and used. The need to keep us with evolving trends will change the market. Consumer expectations, unexpected technological advancements and continually shifting regulatory standards will shape folding cartons in the coming years.

Megan Ray Nichols

Technical Writer & Blogger

Megan Ray Nichols is a freelance technical writer and blogger. She enjoys writing easy to understand science and technology articles on her blog, Schooled By Science. When she isn’t writing, Megan enjoys watching movies and hiking with friends.

Source: ReadWrite

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State of the Edge Report for 2020

Edge computing has been huge hot topic in 2019, and it will continue to be one in 2020. Edge computing brings computation and data storage to the network’s edge. When computation and data are kept closer to where the data is being generated, it results in less latency. For applications that depend on low latency, edge computing can be transformational. A new report, the State of the Edge 2020, explores what’s to come in this space in the coming years.

State of Edge is an educational organization that produces free research on edge computing based on industry collaboration. It recently released its latest vendor-neutral research report, suggesting the edge computing infrastructure market will be worth $700 billion by 2028. While the report authors acknowledge that they could have measured the “edge footprint” by measuring the number of racks deployed and predicting how many will be deployed a decade from now, instead, the forecast was based on cumulative CAPEX (capital expenditure) that is predicted to be spent on edge IT infrastructure and data center facilities.

The report refers to the edge as the “Third Act of the Internet.” Act one, the origination phase, refers to the period in which the internet was mostly a network, when the main point of it was to get data from one place to another. Act two, according to State of the Edge, encompassed CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) and regionalization. During this phase, regional data centers brought internet infrastructure closer to users. Edge computing, the report suggests, is part of act three. Because current infrastructure can’t support all the applications users want and need, this phase of internet evolution will optimize networks by bringing resources to the edge.

Various factors are setting edge computing up for massive growth in the coming years. For instance, the industry is increasingly speaking the same language when it comes to the edge. State of the Edge says a lack of a common definition has held the space back, but a common definition of the edge is gaining momentum. To keep the industry moving toward an agreed-upon definition, the 2018 version of the report outlined the following four-part definition: “The edge is a location, not a thing. There are lots of edges, but the edge we care about is the edge of the last-mile network. This edge has two sides: an infrastructure edge and a device edge. Compute will exist on both sides, working in coordination with the centralized cloud.” Other factors include the growing desire for realtime decisionmaking and new storage and security needs.

McKinsey similarly predicts these factors will lead to growth in the edge computing market. The research firm suggests edge computing will represent a value of up to $215 billion in hardware by 2025. Industries with growing edge use cases include retail, logistics, healthcare, smart cities, manufacturing, and AVs (autonomous vehicles), among many others. Edge computing is certainly driving the next generation of smart manufacturing by reducing latency to the point that manufacturers can truly benefit from realtime information about their machines and the products coming off assembly lines.

Hurdles remain for edge computing, but many of those hurdles remain unknown. However, business opportunities are plentiful for those that invest in the edge. State of the Edge suggests “there is no finish line”; rather, edge computing is a marathon of sorts—a long-term transformation of the internet that will take time to come into its final form.

Source: Connected World