The state of IoT has steadily progressed over the last two decades. Today, IoT affords us the vital ability to sense everything everywhere. The old operational models of manufacturing plants, CPG warehouses, retail, pharma and supply chains that primarily relied on legacy technologies and manual workflows and processes are now becoming entities of the past.
Business leaders from all industries are embracing IoT solutions. But many of these connected solutions are isolated from delivering larger transformative insights. The opportunities for enterprise-wide visibility and choreography are driving the fourth (some would say the fifth) industrial revolution called Industry 4.0.
The framework of Industry 4.0 utilizes machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to build on progress made during the third industrial revolution that sparked the adoption of computers and automation. This will enable us to create smart factories from innovative technologies that leverage advanced data to enhance efficiency and drive productivity. Following the "PDP loop" below can shape the future of interconnection between the physical and digital worlds (download required). Advanced insights are used across business units and departments to optimize operations and inspire the workers from these companies with higher-value work.
Physical to Digital: Businesses collect analytical information on supply chains and physical operations and utilize multiple types of IoT sensors for transitioning the data to a digital record.
Digital to Digital: Machines cross-share telemetry data to compile, calculate, estimate and produce actionable insights using prescriptive analytics, demand sensing, AI and ML in real time.
Digital to Physical: Machines transform automated decisioning data from the digital world into prescriptive actions that drive physical decision-making and team instructions that optimize outcomes.
According to the Boston Consulting Group, there are nine foundational technologies of Industry 4.0: additive manufacturing, augmented reality, autonomous robots, big data and analytics, the cloud, cybersecurity, horizontal and vertical system integration, the industrial internet of things and simulation. By 2028, Industry 4.0's market size is expected to triple its current valuation and exceed $330 billion.
The impact of Industry 4.0 will expand beyond the manufacturing sector—a wide range of enterprises in healthcare, pharmaceuticals, retail, food service, transportation and automotive can capitalize on it as well. First, however, IoT's interconnectivity across platforms and industries needs to be improved to unlock its true power.
But connectivity alone is not enough. We also must be able to forecast, optimize and execute outcomes based on real-time telemetry data and information transparency. How? Through digital workflows that are created by combining IoT sensors with task management to produce real-time predictive modeling for business operations.
The technologies and infrastructure already exist, but we need to connect the dots between them. That is when Industry 4.0 will become a reality for all. Businesses you visit every day are already embracing these technologies to ensure mission-critical outcomes. The following use cases demonstrate this.
Industry 4.0 for Pharmaceuticals, Healthcare and Hospitals
In order to maintain their efficacy, vaccines, prescriptions and other pharmaceutical products need to be stored and handled in optimal conditions from production to shelf. It doesn't matter whether that shelf is at a hospital or retail pharmacy; proper storage and handling are important because of high regulation by the authorities. The regulations even include calibrating a thermometer that monitors temperatures on an ongoing basis to NIST traceable standards. However, if you combine humidity and temperature with on-shelf availability visibility per machine or asset, it adds even more value to the supply chain, since the consumptions can change by vaccine requirements.
Industry 4.0 for Grocery
For grocers, the sole purpose of temperature monitoring is to maintain consumer satisfaction. From back-of-house inventory freezers to customer-facing refrigerators, they need to monitor humidity levels and temperature settings to ensure products—such as produce or meat—do not spoil before they reach the customer. There isn't as much pinpoint accuracy required as there is in healthcare; however, if the humidity or temperature suddenly changes to a lower variable, an employee needs to know to alleviate the issue as quickly as possible.
For example, it could be that the freezer is overloaded with inventory and in turn, cannot operate optimally, or perhaps a customer simply left the refrigerator door open for too long. No matter the root cause, IoT combined with telemetry data can easily identify the problem and prescribe a corrective course of action—ranging from sending an associate to check the inventory or close the door to enlisting the proper help to fix the machine.
Industry 4.0 for Food Service
In the food service industry, regulations are changing that are dictating behaviours. However, as long as you automate the process with the right IoT sensors, you can make it easier for your employees to ensure compliance with ever-changing regulations while still achieving consumer satisfaction.
For example, envision a restaurant that is required to perform three temperature checks before serving chicken to customers. With the right technology, the system can alert an employee to insert an IoT probe into the chicken, which automates the sensing of its temperature and logs it correctly to maximize regulatory compliance.
Every state has different regulations; however, if the objective is consumer health and satisfaction, why not deploy the same IoT sensors in the kitchen that are relied on for the compliance of food production? It can create a simplified set of processes that enable employees to be more productive and more efficient.
When choosing providers for the solutions described above or any other IoT solutions, you should consider whether their architecture is open and whether their data is portable. Both will be critical to building a single view for your business. By thinking beyond the silos of application or departmental structures, you can thread data to other stakeholders and create a real-time decision-making model that eliminates blind spots.
Now that the location and status of inventory can be identified, we just need to expand its connectivity across platforms. What better way to do this than through blockchain technology? Stay tuned for the next chapter of this exciting market called IoT.