In a few short years, the Internet of Things has transformed the way that organizations do business with both their own customers and each other. According to one projection, there will be approximately 200 billion devices connected to the IoT as soon as 2020.
While a significant amount of this is driven by the “smart home” market, the importance of IoT and the data it brings to metals and paper companies can’t be overstated.
Using superior data to create superior value
The use of data to drive business decisions and transformations is nothing new, particularly in the metals and paper spaces. The issue is that many companies are still relying on static, error-prone reports. This usually results less in “informed decisions” and more in “somewhat accurate assumptions.”
The problem is that data on mission-critical factors like actual production costs, operating capacity, and yields does not come quickly enough to support real-time decision making. Also companies lack additional insights that could further drive efficiency, for example being able to predict the quality of output. What organizations are left with is a level of “insight” that is no longer sufficient to successfully compete in today’s crowded marketplace.
There’s a reason why many experts predict that the Internet of Things will expand rapidly in terms of products like industrial sensors, connected manufacturing machines, workspace management applications, and more over the next few years. Paper and metals companies are starting to realize that “data” and “quality, actionable, real-time data” are not the same thing.
Benefits of the Internet of Things
Think about the type of data that the production process already generates. You know how metals, paper, and/or packaging are being produced and where they are in the supply chain. You can view a complete, detailed overview of production flow history. You can call up physical properties in an instant. You know deviations, current position, and beyond.
Now, imagine that this data was no longer locked up in a series of silos that were cut off from one another. Not only does the Internet of Things enable your data sources to come together and feed off one another, but it also allows you to better connect to your customers’ own process to get the real-time feedback necessary to make the right decisions for the right people at the right time.
This shift towards the IoT is expected to bring with it a wide range of different value drivers, like uncovering opportunities for faster production cycles that give way to a quicker time to market. Paper and metals companies are also in a position where they can increase customer satisfaction with products that better address the needs of the people they’re trying to serve in the first place.
This also brings new opportunities for value-added services. Thanks to the IoT, quality information can now be embedded throughout business processes. Whether you’re talking about product development or supply chain planning or production doesn’t matter; you have complete visibility into an operation at all times.
This gives paper and metals companies an opportunity to increase customer satisfaction by bringing customers into the fold in a way they’ve never been before. Companies can offer the right quality at the lowest cost, as well as the exact delivery time, via a truly holistic business process-monitoring system that enables everything from tracking performance history to predicting and changing production and product quality.
Delivery performance also becomes more consistent. Predictive and prescriptive maintenance prevents downtime and costly delays. The IoT even has interesting implications in terms of a business’ finances and accounting capabilities, as “smart” contracts with micro-payment capabilities can and should become the new norm.
Feeding that data back into your business is also an opportunity to exponentially increase asset efficiency by optimizing product processes and yields, thus generating additional cost savings that wouldn’t be available through alternative means.
Forging a path to the future with today’s data
In the metals and paper industries, the production process is already generating a huge amount of data at all times. Information like where metals, paper, or packaging are being produced, along with how they are being produced and where they currently are in the supply chain, is available at all times with a few quick clicks of a mouse.
This incredibly detailed data goes beyond production flow history and encompasses everything from physical properties to deviations or current position and more. This data isn’t just valuable to your customers; it’s essential to your business, too. It can not only be monetized by using it to create new value-added services for your customers, but it also allows you to work “smarter, not harder.”
By eliminating a dependency on static, error-prone data sources, you are no longer making decisions based on assumptions. You’re in a much better position to cut through the noise and focus on greater business outcomes and your ability to embrace and utilize innovations.
For paper and metals companies in particular, this also brings the most important benefit of all: An opportunity for increasing quality while, at the same time, lowering costs and risk.
Learn how to bring new technologies and services together to power digital transformation by downloading The IoT Imperative for Energy and Natural Resource Companies. Explore how to bring Industry 4.0 insights into your business today by reading Industry 4.0: What’s Next?