IIoT vs IoT Explained

It's easy to get lazy, or just make a mistake, when using TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) and technical jargon. I know that I am guilty of using IoT vs IIoT almost interchangeably or without distinction. There is a difference and this article from LNS RESEARCH explains those differences in detail.  The Venn diagram below is a very helpful visualization.

The Rise of the Connected Worker

LNS Research publishes very good, timely and relevant articles on a variety of manufacturing- related topics. A current article is about the trends driving "connected worker" initiatives. Most definitely an aging workforce needs to be a major consideration. Companies are losing significant talent due to retirement. What they may not realize, is the "tribal knowledge" that leaves with those workers. Over the years, people have learned/discovered ways to get the job done that is often not documented in engineering drawings, manufacturing engineering process sheets, standard operating procedures, and all the other means of internally communicating process information.

Ideally, companies would work with senior employees to ensure that information is captured before departure. Process audits are one way to do this. In my opinion, a better way is to have someone watch and document the training of new/newer employees by those who are planning on retiring. The provides dir…

SupplyChainBrain -Three Digital Manufacturing Trends for 2020

The way I read this article, the forecast is for a "gig economy" approach to machining and other "metal-bashing" industries. In the section headed "Online and On-Demand", the article describes individual part fabrication being completely outsourced through an online network of firms the way 3D printing has evolved. I see this as great news for firms looking to buy one-off items while at the same time increasing competition, and decreasing margins, for job shops.
I see this somewhat at odds with the following section on "More Partnerships, Joint Ventures". If firms can get multiple quotes and select a different supplier every time, it is hard to see the partnership aspect. Unless, of course, over time the major users of these online services decide to focus on working with a select few vendors with whom they can develop Long Term Agreements (LTAs) based on negotiating rates, volume, lead time and quality. I would see this happening to ensure con…

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A Predictive Smart Valve Application using IoT

FarStar has partnered with IoTco of the US to bring IoT-based applications to the Canadian market. These include machine monitoring from Forcam and predictive maintenance from Predictronics. Check out this case study published in print edition of Valve World Americas May-2019.

IoT and Asset Performance Management - a short story

One of the key use cases for IoT is in the area of machine and asset performance monitoring. One of my last projects was to have 125 NC (numerically-controlled) machines connected with real-time performance monitoring across 5 different locations in North America. The goal was to better understand their use, but also the down-time with a key focus on the reasons behind those lost hours. Some management folks saw this as an opportunity to monitor, and then improve, operator performance. The truth of the matter is that there were bigger savings to be found by solving the problems that kept the machines out of productive use.

The article that follows is a simple narrative that comes to the same conclusion but using an example everyone can relate to. My experience also reflects their findings.

Enjoy the article:

The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Some Supply Chain Managers Just Don’t Get It

I just read an interesting article, with the above title, in SCMR (Supply Chain Management Review) online. The author talks about all the right stuff - independent processes and data points in the supply chain becoming a series of inter-connected nodes sharing real-time data.

The revolution is coming but I think we need to be realistic about when it will arrive. I think it will arrive a widely different times for different firms and their industries. The Fortune 500 or Global 1000 will have a different timeline than the small-to-medium enterprise (SME).

I spend a lot of time in the SME market space where I still see a large proportion of companies running major aspects of their business on MS-Excel, non-integrated software, and manual processes. While I believe in the technology and benefits of Supply Chain 4.0 in this article, and many similar ones, the company that is still doing a once-a-month update of inventory into their custom in-house MS-Access application or spreadsheet is not…