ETBureau: Why do most commercial services suppliers struggle to adopt IoT-based technologies in their infrastructure?
Aaron Ganick: IoT payback in the industrial market tends to be reasonably straightforward, as the value of product or manufacturing downtime easily justifies IoT investments.
In the commercial market, margins are typically thinner, capital budgets are spread between competing departments, and the path to implementation can be chaotic, wrought with hidden costs and development delays.
As such, the value proposition for commercial enterprises must include clear monetizable outcomes. For instance, increased product sales or other non-tangible value streams, which can be challenging to estimate.
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Still, the market may be preparing to breakout. The number of devices connected via Bluetooth LE and other wireless protocols is expected to increase to 15B by 2022. These technologies can provide real-time inventory updates and trend lines to automate stock replenishment.
ETBureau: In today’s economic crisis, commercial suppliers have been hard hit. Even though they are working under strict budget constraints, what steps will enable them to efficiently preserve and maximize the value of their company assets in the field?
Aaron Ganick: It’s a proven fact that in difficult economic times, those that invest wisely get stronger, increasing their market share. It takes conviction, much like an investment in IoT for a first-time supplier.
Commercial companies looking to differentiate will look at many options for their business, and IoT is an area where the trend is clear. IoT is an area where it’s not “if”, it is “when,” and the trigger for such a decision will need to take in many factors.
Maximizing value can mean simply reducing costs through remote monitoring of assets. Still, it can also include using data for real-time adjustment to the product mix for upselling and cross-selling. In commercial deployments, driving more product and more expensive product will have a more considerable impact on the bottom line. These are all aspects that IoT unlocks.
ETBureau: How can industrial enterprises make informed decisions to sustain their businesses?
Aaron Ganick: Even with all of the automation most industrial plants deploy, many processes and critical assets are still operating in the dark, with little to no real understanding of that asset’s critical operating parameters.
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IoT technologies users achieve deep insights not possible with automation gear because such gear typically lacks application-specific knowledge only the OEM manufacturer is aware of. Yet, blind deployment of such assets occurs, time and again, with ‘just enough’ automation to make them operate.
IoT enables more informed decisions by providing the inputs to operate with reliability, predictability and efficiency, especially for critical assets with hidden operating parameters.
During the pandemic, reliability has become even more critical. Maintaining operations has become mission number one, and the decisions made to prevent downtime often need to be completed remotely.
Preventing downtime with this type of IoT-enabled remote asset management also means lowering maintenance costs in a period where bottom lines are increasingly under the microscope. Past research from McKinsey indicates that remote technologies and assistance can decrease field maintenance costs by 10-40%.
The key is making IoT deployment for industrial companies as simple as possible. Manufacturers are often sold on the latest and greatest technology promise, only to become the guinea pig for the next iteration to remedy the shortcomings.
Industrial companies must let application drive the technology choice and improve upon them. Typically bleeding edge and reliability are not used in the same sentence.
ETBureau: How will the introduction of IoT-based technologies transform the industrial suppliers in the future?
Aaron Ganick: IoT and automation will become baked into the fabric of the next generation of industrial suppliers. Implementing IoT cannot be done in a “set it and forget it” framework.
It seems obvious now that even automation needs checking. Most think that once an automation system is qualified, everything is okay. The reality is that automation is continuously being changed, tweaked and updated. Humans make mistakes, IoT monitoring does not. IoT industrial application is not only complementary, it’s a necessity.
The key to transforming today’s industrial businesses with IoT deployment is keeping it simple, learning, and iterating quickly. This isn’t much different than the lean startup methodology that has gained widespread popularity today.
Companies need to shorten the product development cycle, implement a simple IoT solution, and rapidly discover if the current solution is viable. Spending years in developing an IoT solution only to find that the market has adjusted is a guaranteed recipe for lost investment, time to market, and share. The leading industrial suppliers of the future will quickly learn this.
Aaron Ganick co-founded Preddio Technologies in early 2020. Aaron has a degree in Electrical Engineering from Boston University, and has led numerous startup and corporate technology ventures. He has spent the last five+ years in the commercial and residential IoT/Smart energy industry, and was excited to bring these technologies into the industrial and enterprise markets. In his free time Aaron enjoys woodworking, projects around the house, and spending time with his wife, French bulldog, and 14 month old twin girls.