Forbes: How Manufacturers Can Get IT And OT To Work Together

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Organizations worldwide will spend $2.1 trillion a year on digital transformation projects by 2021. Considering this is double the 2017 levels, this clearly shows that digital transformation hardware, software and services is serious business.

And few business functions are hit harder by digital transformation than Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT). Traditionally, these departments have operated in isolation, but digital transformation forces them to align.

This convergence is often met with resistance, so the big question is how can manufacturers successfully align IT and OT?

By showing IT and OT employees exactly how their departments benefit from aligning their processes, manufacturers can start embracing Industry 4.0.

The silo challenge

A factory is like a living organism with many different parts to it; there’s the materials, the machines, the people and the systems that they use to make high quality products.

IT and OT are key parts of that living organism. However, the challenge for manufacturers is that IT and OT often work in silos with little interaction, even when it concerns critical production data. This results in a lack of visibility into how each department’s role fits in the manufacturing organism. Consider the IT decision maker. Their chief concerns are around privacy and security; that’s what keeps them up at night. While the Operations team is more interested in uptime and safety.

So it’s no surprise that as digital transformation forces these two departments to align, conflict will arise. Many manufacturers have discussed the convergence of IT and OT for some time, and many fear the change.

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Forbes: Data Is The Foundation For Artificial Intelligence And Machine Learning

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Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are going to have a huge impact on manufacturing. With these technologies, manufacturers will gain the computational power needed to solve problems that humans can’t possibly solve. They will ultimately be able to provide prescriptive answers to production issues manufacturers have been asking for centuries. Namely, how do we make our product as efficiently as possible, with zero waste and the least amount of downtime.

As with most reports about groundbreaking technology, this discussion of the ‘holy-grail’ is way ahead of industry practices. The vision serves a useful purpose in suggesting what’s possible. But with many manufacturers lacking the data infrastructure necessary to obtain real AI and ML capabilities, the journey towards perfect production can also be so abstract that it confuses the very people looking to achieve it. I’m often asked by corporate leadership, “Where and how do we adopt AI technology?”

Begin with data.

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Forbes: Beyond Digital Transformation: How Industry 4.0 Benefits Your Customers, Employees, and Culture

By | Blog

It’s no secret that Industry 4.0, or the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has the power to drive true quantifiable change in the manufacturing industry. The immediate bottom-line production benefits are clear: fewer machine failures, reduced scrap and downtime issues, and improved throughput – to name a few. However, there are additional, less quantifiable, benefits of implementing this technology.

One trend that I’ve started seeing among manufacturers is the use of Industry 4.0 to create a positive, cultural shift across an organization. Think about how lean manufacturing and Six Sigma revolutionized the plant floor by turning production workers into problem solvers striving for continuous improvement. Similarly, Industry 4.0 is transforming how factory employees work, collaborate, and serve their customers.

The best-in-class Industry 4.0 solutions aggregate data not only from machines but from existing third-party systems – MES, ERP, maintenance, SCADA. The Industry 4.0 platform becomes a single source of truth for all manufacturing operations. Decision makers across the entire organization gain access to the same unified data set, rather than relying on disparate systems or manual data-collection.

Effectively, Industry 4.0 eliminates the silos that create frustration and disagreements between employees about the source of production issues. The availability of open, connected data means that plant managers, engineers, and management can now work together to objectively solve production problems. It also results in improved customer satisfaction, increased supply chain transparency, and enhanced employee engagement.

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Forbes: Human-Technology Symbiosis in Manufacturing: Changing the Discussion About Automation and Workforce

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Part 2 in a two-part series exploring the less tangible benefits of Industry 4.0.

Will technology help or replace workers?

The debate within manufacturing about whether technology will completely replace people is interesting, but it’s the wrong debate to be having. Technology is changing the workforce, it’s a fact, and it has eliminated low-skilled manufacturing jobs in the past; but it’s not as black-and-white as most arguments suggest.

Rather, the discussion should be about the concept of human-machine (or man-computer) symbiosis, the mutually beneficial relationship between humans and technology, and how machines and software can intelligently and physically increase the productivity of the systems to be more than that of human or machine alone. With the emergence of Industry 4.0 and the capabilities of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), the conversation should refocus on how to best transition displaced workers into the high-salaried, higher-skilled roles that are created along with the adoption of technology.

In fact, human-machine symbiosis is not a new concept. We know this from historical experience–and not just the old go-to story of the first Industrial Revolution.  Accountants have abandoned handwritten ledgers in favor of electronic spreadsheets. Product designers and architects have transitioned from manual to automated drawing tools. And few scientists and engineers use the once ubiquitous slide rule to assist with calculations. In each of these instances, technology eliminated tedious, time-consuming manual work, even as it augmented the education, skills and experience of the professionals.

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Forbes: How Industry 4.0 Helps Manufacturers Solve Workforce Challenges

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Part 1 in a two-part series exploring the less tangible benefits of Industry 4.0.

Stuck between a soon-to-be retired workforce and a cohort of young engineers and operators with comparatively less experience, manufacturers are in a bind. They have job openings, but can’t find qualified people to fill them.

While the general public believes that all of the manufacturing jobs are going away, unemployment figures tell a different story. Since 2011, manufacturing unemployment has been lower than overall unemployment, sometimes by wide margins.

Exacerbating the issue is the skills gap, which means the jobs that employers need filled require skills that most of the unemployment pool doesn’t have. Manufacturers need highly skilled engineers and machine operators, but often times it’s those without this required skill set that are looking for work.

The result is that almost every factory I visit has open engineering positions and is struggling to run their business with a workforce that’s smaller than ideal.

One of the solutions to this conundrum is technology. Industry 4.0 technologies amplify the contributions of every employee, from the highest skilled engineer to the entry-level operator, increasing their productivity, so manufacturers  can do more with fewer employees. Here’s how it helps address each aspect of manufacturers’ workforce problem.

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Forbes: ‘Machines As A Service’: Industry 4.0 Powers OEM Aftermarket Revenue Growth

By | Blog

Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are no strangers to boom or bust sales cycles. Traditionally, they’re either ramping up production to meet demand or seeking ways to slash costs when sales are down.

But Industry 4.0, or the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), is enabling new sales models that generate more consistent revenue streams for OEMs. There are considerable benefits for forward-thinking manufacturers that transition from selling a product to offering, “machines as a service.” Rather than relying on a one-time sale, they’re charging customers based on machine use and service.

Machines as a service can revolutionize the way OEMs design, sell and service products. It will be a win-win for OEMs and their customers, as both partners benefit from increased predictability.

Selling uptime as a differentiator

It’s a business model that’s becoming more prominent across a wide range of industrial products, including Rolls-Royce’s aircraft and marine engines. The U.K. company is an example of a manufacturer that’s leveraged IoT to turn a high-value asset into a continuous source of revenue.

Rolls-Royce offers “power-by-the-hour” service agreements that allow customers to pay a fixed rate per hour of operation rather than purchasing the engine outright. The company assumes responsibility for ongoing maintenance and provides predictive maintenance services based on insights from their IoT-enabled engines that wirelessly send machine data to four Rolls-Royce centers for monitoring.

Now compare that service model to the more common fail-and-fix approaches in which OEMs sell the equipment outright and only provide service when a machine breaks down. OEMs that adopt machines as a service differentiate themselves from competitors by guaranteeing 100% uptime and only charging for actual usage.

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Forbes: ‘What’s At Stake In The Race To Industry 4.0?’

By | Blog, Featured Post

As Industry 4.0 gains momentum in the manufacturing world, executives are calculating the risk-reward ratio of becoming early adopters of this technology. Some are considering the cost, in money and time, against the potential gains. Others are determining whether they should wait until their competition shows definitive proof of the benefits before striking out into the largely unknown territory. Still, others, stung by the over-blown promises of overly complex and costly earlier technologies, are simply wary. All of them are working to figure out what exactly is at stake in leading or lagging behind the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

To put it simply, the answer is that the future of your business is at stake. But most executives will see that answer as too simple or abstract, if not too glib.

To truly understand the risks and rewards of being among your industry’s leaders during this transformation, bring the debate down to earth. Consider one of the fundamental issues you deal with every day: the cost of poor quality and the cost of downtime.

Reducing the cost of poor quality and downtime

The daily battles that manufacturers wage to make better products and keep machines running figure prominently in Industry 4.0. Driving down the cost associated with these basic elements of manufacturing are among the most critical challenges a manufacturer must address — and for good reason.

The true cost of poor quality — the sum of the costs from repair, rework, scrap, service calls, warranty claims and write-offs from obsolete finished goods — can range between 5 and 30% of a manufacturing company’s total revenues, with the range for a majority of companies falling between 10 and 20%.

And that’s not counting the costs associated with lost customers.

This profit leakage is a staggering amount for an individual company, alone. When you calculate how it compounds through the supply chain, impacting the bottom line and ultimately the customer, the value of fixing the problem becomes clear.

Likewise, the cost of downtime reduces profitability in a variety of ways too numerous to detail here: lost production and capacity, higher labor cost per unit and inventory costs and added stress on employees and machines. When the machines are down, everyone’s attention is diverted from growing the business, whether it’s responding to new opportunities or innovating new products and services.

Though variable industry to industry, one survey places the cost of one minute of downtime in the automotive industry at an average of $22,000 per minute. If you can reduce your downtime costs to a fraction of that, the benefits to the bottom line alone will be substantial.

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Forbes: ‘Industry 4.0: The Journey Towards Perfect Production’

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I was thrilled when Forbes invited me to contribute to their website on the future of manufacturing. Given all the time I spend speaking to people in manufacturing about Industry 4.0, its competitive advantages, and how they can leverage their factory data to improve production, I’m excited to now share my perspective with the readers on Forbes.

Below is an excerpt from my first article in the series. Join me every other week for my take on how manufacturers should approach Industry 4.0 in addition to other challenges facing the industry.


“Manufacturers are under constant pressure. They need to decrease waste while increasing uptime, throughput and quality to continue to compete effectively. Manufacturers are no stranger to disruption either, and in recent years lean manufacturing practices and automation have applied further pressure on them, even forcing some out of the game altogether.

The next disruptive phase in manufacturing is already well underway. “Industry 4.0” builds on the previous three phases of industrialization – mechanization, mass production and controls. It’s an intelligent production environment enabled by an integrated platform of enterprise data systems, the Internet of things (IoT) and cloud computing.”

Industry 4.0 provides insight into variables or anomalies that can cause performance issues, such as machine failures, bottlenecks or waste, and it is going to completely transform the manufacturing sector and fundamentally change the established relationship between the makers and consumers of products.

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Oden Co-Founders Make Forbes 30 Under Europe Industry List

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The Oden Team is proud to announce that our co-foundersWillem Sundblad and Peter Brand, have made this year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe Industry List. The Industry List recognizes those individuals whose companies are making a significant impact in transforming the manufacturing industry.

Oden Technologies, which was incorporated in London in 2014, is not so quietly disrupting the industry by empowering manufacturers to improve quality, eliminate waste, and achieve perfect production with our Industrial IoT technology. We are thrilled to have our innovate leaders recognized on this list, as well as continuing to work with forward-thinking manufacturers to usher in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

For more information on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Industry List, read the article in full.

Learn more about our Industry 4.0 technology.

No announcement available or all announcement expired.