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Changes, challenges and success - sustaining competitive advantage with IIoT

When you’re in technology, you have to expect change. Yet, there’s something to the phrase “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” For instance, I see in the industrial internet of things (IIoT) a realm that’ll dramatically shape the future - how we manufacture, the way we run our factories, workforce needs – but the underlying business goals are the same as always.

Simply put, while industrial enterprise initiatives may change, financial objectives don’t – and they’re still what matter most. That’s why IIoT is so appealing. While the possibilities of smart and connected operations, sites and products certainly appeal to the dreamer and innovator, the clear payoff ensures that it’s a road even the most pragmatic decision-maker will eagerly follow.

The big three
When it comes to industrial enterprises, IIoT addresses the “big three” financial objectives head on. The technology maximizes revenue growth, reduces operating expense and increases asset efficiency.

IIoT does this in numerous ways. It yields invaluable operational intelligence, like real-time performance management data, to reduce manufacturing costs, increase flexibility and enable agility. When it comes to productivity, connected digital assets can empower a workforce with actionable insights to improve productivity and quality, even prevent safety and compliance issues.

For example, recognizing defects in a product early on can save time, materials, staff hours and possibly even a company’s reputation.

Whether on or off the factory floor, IIoT can be used to optimize asset efficiency. With real-time monitoring, diagnostics and analytics, downtime can be reduced or avoided. Asset utilization can also be evaluated and maximized. Think applications like equipment health monitoring, predictive maintenance, the ability to provide augmented 3D instructions for complex repairs. And, you can also scale production more precisely via better control over processes and inventory.

All of this accelerates time to market; another key benefit of IIoT and long held business goal.

Why is 5G important for IIoT and augmented reality (AR)?
As we look at the growing need to connect more devices, more sensors and install things like real-time cameras for doing analytics, there is growing stress and strain that is brought into industrial settings. We have seen the need to increase connectivity while having greater scalability, performance, accessibility, reliability, and broader reach with a lower cost of ownership become much more important. This is where 5G can make a real difference.

Many of our customers have seen what we are doing with augmented reality and the way that PTC can help operators service equipment. But in the not so distant future, the way that people interact with robotics, for example, will change. There will be real-time video to do spatial analytics on the way that people are working with man and machines and we’ll be able to unlock a new level of intelligence with a new layer of connectivity that helps drive better business outcomes.

Partner up
It sounds nice but the truth is, a lot of heavy lifting is required to do IIoT right. The last thing you want to do is venture into a pilot, run into problems, and leave the C-suite less than enthused with the outcome. And make no mistake, there’s a lot potential pitfalls to be aware of.

For instance, lengthy proof of concept periods, cumbersome processes and integrations can slow time to market. Multiple, local integrations can be required when connectivity and device management gets siloed. If not done right, you may only gain limited visibility into devices and the experience will fall short. And, naturally, global initiatives can be hindered by high roaming costs and deployment obstacles.

That said, you want to harness best of breed providers, not only to realize the full benefits of Industry 4.0, but to set yourself up with a foundation that’ll be able to harness 5G developments. You need a trusted IoT partner, and because of the sophistication and complexity, it takes an ecosystem of proven innovators working collaboratively.

That’s why PTC and Ericsson are partners.

Doing what’s best
Ericsson unlocks the full value of global cellular IoT connectivity and provides on-premise solutions. PTC offers an industrial IoT platform that’s ready to configure and deploy, with flexible connectivity and capabilities to build solutions without manual coding.

Drilling down a bit further, Ericsson’s IoT Accelerator can connect and manage billions of devices and millions of applications easily, seamlessly and globally. PTC’s IoT solutions digitalize processes and products, combining the physical and digital worlds seamlessly.

And with wireless connectivity, we can deploy a lot of new technology – from augmented reality to artificial intelligence applications – without having to think about the time and cost of creating fixed infrastructures, running wires, adding network capacity and more.

According ABI Research, organizations that embrace Industry 4.0 and private cellular have the potential to improve gross margins by 5-13% in factory and warehouse operations. Manufacturers can expect a 10x return on their investment. And with 4.3 billion wireless connections in smart factories anticipated by 2030, it’s clear where things are headed.

By focusing on what we each do best, PTC and Ericsson is able to do what’s best for our customers. We can help them build and scale global cellular IoT deployments faster and gain a competitive advantage. They can reap the advantages of Industry 4.0 and create that path to 5G, future-proofing their operations and enjoying such differentiators as network slicing, edge computing and high-reliability, low latency communications.

Further, with our histories of innovation, customers are assured they’ll be supported in the future, remaining out front with the ability to adapt to change, grow and deliver on financial objections.

Editor's Note: This post was originally published by Steve Dertien, Chief Technology Officer for PTC, on Ericsson's website, and is part of a joint content effort with Kiva Allgood, head of IoT for Ericsson. To view Steve's original, please click here. To read Kiva's complementary post, please click here.

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This article was authored by Steve Dertien, Chief Technology Officer of PTC. In this role, Steve champions corporate technology strategy across PTC's products including augmented and virtual reality, the industrial internet of things, software architecture, computer-aided design, and product lifecycle management. Steve also leads the innovation research lab and advanced technology development groups, where he evangelizes state-of-the-art advancements with PTC technology and the business advantages it can provide to PTC's customers and global partner network.

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