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AUGUST 2021 I SMT007 MAGAZINE 37 Start now to get comfortable with IIoT, then develop a plan to incorporate more connected devices into your system evolution toward Manufacturing 4.0. IIoT in the Plant or Warehouse Each company considering a move to incor- porate IIoT into their business will have differ- ent reasons for doing so. While some will be focused on improving workflow and through- put in the plant, others will focus on material control and visibility in the plant and ware- house, and many will pursue both. Whatever the priorities, they are looking for real-time tracking of activities and events, increased access to more comprehensive information throughout the organization, and establishing or expanding the data collection and manage- ment infrastructure necessary to support many of the functions of Manufacturing 4.0 includ- ing digital manufacturing, the digital thread, advanced planning that relies on simulation and machine learning, and more. Here are some considerations and observa- tions to keep in mind as you start planning for your implementation of IIoT: • No company would (or should) expend money and resources without knowing how that investment will benefit the busi- ness—generate a return on that invest- ment. In addition, having a clearly stated goal helps to plan the project and steer its management—every activity can be eval- uated in terms of how it contributes to the overall goals. • Scope: One of the biggest factors in failure to complete a project successfully is the phenomenon commonly known as "scope creep." is happens when a project keeps growing beyond the initial objectives until it fails to meet those objectives, runs out of funding and must be terminated before completion, misses scheduled dates because of the lack of focus, and/or suffers massive cost overruns. Undoubtedly, you will see a lot of tempting new ideas and technologies that seem like a great idea (with seemingly just a little impact on the original project). Resist the temptation. Success with the first project will bolster your case for a phase II follow-on that can incorporate some of the great ideas you develop along the way. • Existing systems and networks: Unless you are planning to replace your existing ERP, MES, and other major systems, one of your first considerations should be how these existing systems will fit in with and support the new IIoT technology. If cur- rent systems are not amenable to the IIoT data input and outputs you're planning, either change your plans or replace those systems before embarking on your IIoT initiative. Trying to force-fit IIoT into sys- tems that are not well-suited for them is a much bigger and more difficult task than you can imagine. • Technical issues: Taking the compatibility issue a bit deeper, carefully choose suppliers, protocols, and security that will serve your needs today and have the best prospects for moving with you into the future as your needs grow and technology evolves. Nobody can predict with any level of certainty how technology will change so choosing technologies and protocols is less important than choosing partners (suppliers) that show a commitment to keeping their products up-to-date, provid- ing outstanding customer service and sup- port, and have the financial strength and stability to succeed in their markets over the long term. • e people side: Always remember that you are investing in tools that will help operations go more smoothly, reduce costs, improve customer service, and help workers and users do their jobs. No matter

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