The industrial machinery and components (IM&C) industry is often on par with, or ahead of, other industries when it comes to using advanced technologies. For instance, this industry adopted the Internet of Things (IoT) long before many others had even heard of it. Currently, IM&C is adopting cloud solutions, as-a-service business models, and blockchain.
Current technology use cases in IM&C
Hosts of the S.M.A.C. Talk podcast talked to Ulf Guttmann, of SAP’s Industrial Machinery and Components Industry Business Unit, who explained how IM&C companies are by using new technologies that help them run their businesses better.
For example, consider smart products, which have embedded software and sensors that allow companies to send and receive product data. This data is being used with predictive analytics and machine learning. Guttmann said that modern technological capabilities have allowed companies to connect more machines and components. This helps them get more and higher-quality data to understand and improve their business processes.
Technology also allows IM&C companies to predict equipment maintenance needs so they can prevent problems that could lead to breakdowns. IM&C companies have also been experimenting with the equipment-as-a-service model, which works in a way that’s similar to software-as-a-service. Guttmann offered the example of Kaeser Compressors, which sells compressed air output as a service, with the compressors included in each service plan.
IM&C companies are also using cloud solutions, which Guttmann said enables them “to respond to the needs of the users, of their customers, of their suppliers, much faster than what was possible before.” They can have more flexibility and adapt to different needs by adding more applications to the cloud platform. This allows them to quickly change their solutions and applications to expand their businesses. They can also provide better customer service and compete better. If a customer expresses a need, the company is able to quickly change applications through the cloud platform. The customer can then easily access the changes.
A cloud platform also facilitates IoT within the industrial setting, which is known as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Linda Rosencrance explained in a TechTarget article that the industry is currently facing a challenge with using IIoT to move forward. The problem is that many “things” are not designed to properly connect with each other. She explained that “interoperability standards and common architectures are needed to connect these smart devices and machines.” Creating a standard system is proving difficult, but industry groups have started to work toward this effort. Rosencrance noted that standards should help create better data transfers between industrial machinery and devices.
Moving forward with blockchain
Something the industry has not yet adopted is blockchain, which is currently used in industries like banking. Guttmann says this technology could help IM&C companies track and trace products and components in a safe and secure way throughout their entire lifecycle while also helping them share this data within their network.
Blockchain will allow IM&C companies offer greater transparency of transactions within the cloud platform, explained Georg Kube in Digitalist Magazine. Also, he noted that IM&C companies will need to use new strategies and technologies to continue to stay relevant and competitive in the field. For example, he suggested a digitally enabled supply chain. He also recommended using a systems-engineering method for mechanical and other systems.
In an article in The Future of Customer Engagement and Commerce, Dietmar Bohn laid out some trends it expects to see in the industry by 2022. One prediction is that companies will make more aftermarket service revenue. This connects to the equipment-as-a-service model currently used. Another anticipated trend is to use machine learning in the planning and scheduling processes. Also, companies may transition to cross-industry networks to improve operations and using virtual reality within business operations.
Companies in the IM&C industry tend to use advanced technologies to continue improving their businesses and to meet customer demands. The industry is already using an equipment-as-a-service model and smart products. It is also using IoT, machine learning, and cloud solutions. Blockchain is expected to be the next technology to transform the industry. Nonetheless, IM&C companies will need to continue following new technologies to stay competitive.
Hear Ulf Guttmann’s full discussion of technology in the IM&C industry by listening to the S.M.A.C. Talk podcast.
Hear the full podcast episode here. Learn how to innovate at scale by incorporating individual innovations back to the core business to drive tangible business value by reading Accelerating Digital Transformation in Industrial Machinery and Components. Explore how to bring Industry 4.0 insights into your business today by reading Industry 4.0: What’s Next?