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The Internet of Things (IoT) is poised to revolutionize nearly every aspect of how we interact with the products we use every day. For manufacturing organizations, IoT offers game-changing opportunities to gain valuable insights that can enable greater control over operations, innovative approaches to market, and transformation of products to meet changing customer demands.

Manufacturing organizations can leverage IoT to digitize every process in the value chain. Here are some examples of the benefits of digital transformation for organizations, partners and customers:

Gain visibility to improve manufacturing and planning

  • Monitor production operations: Production operations can be monitored in near-real time. Organizations can use insights into energy and material consumption to dramatically improve resource planning, understand causes for inefficiencies, and enable predictive maintenance that reduces maintenance costs and downtime.
  • Safety: Sensors installed in the shop floor can track environmental conditions, equipment operations and potential hazards to improve overall safety.

Optimize supply chain and distribution

  • Supply chain optimization: Advances in logistics through digital technologies such as supply chain integration, GPS-enabled tracking, and RFID-based inventory management allows for synchronization of supply and production planning.
  • Route optimization: Telematics and connected vehicles enable intelligent route determination and delivery optimization, leading to cost savings and improved distribution planning.

Improve warehouse operations

  • Position sensing: Using RFID tags and readers on pallets enables comprehensive visibility into positioning of stocks in warehouses
  • Pick by vision: Combined with augmented reality, pick-by-vision enables efficient picking operations in warehouses

Improve retail store operations

  • Replenishment: Using smart shelves and smart buttons to re-order in retail stores reduces stock-outs.
  • Planogram compliance: Combined with video analytics, planogram violations will be easier to identify.

Enhance consumer engagement

  • Interactive displays: Interactive displays at retail locations can guide product discovery and offer features that enable consumers to visualize products in their homes.
  • Shopping experience: Consumer shopping experience can be improved with innovative product promotions. By designing organization-centric shopping sections with specially configured beacons, important product features and offers can be exhibited to entice passing shoppers.
  • New consumer engagement channels: New consumer engagement models can be enabled by combining engagement channels such as kiosks, virtual assistants and home entertainment systems like smart televisions.

Create innovative product lines

  • Smart devices will soon be extended to every corner of a home/ commercial setting. This is sure to open up new opportunities to gain intelligence that supports real-time decision making.
  • For organizations that manufacture products for premises, ideas include smart doors that track occupancy levels and integrate with security systems; and smart windows and doors which can be remotely controlled and automatically adjusted to maintain preferred environmental conditions.
  • For organizations that manufacture consumer goods, smart dispensers that facilitate timely replenishment provide for new models including direct-to-consumer.

Now is the Time for IoT

Leveraging IoT is a business imperative to stay ahead of competitors. Several manufacturers are already collecting and using data from smart sensors to reduce production costs, improve engagement with supply chain and retail partners, and increase responsiveness in dynamic consumer and commercial markets.

With IoT gaining traction with early adopters across industries, smart home technologies are staged for mass market appeal. While these disruptive next-generation solutions may pose a threat for some traditional manufacturers, they offer incredible opportunities for companies prepared to take advantage of digital transformation.

While IoT continues to gain mainstream awareness, its technology underpinnings have been around for years. For example, communication technologies, sensors and actuators are often deployed for commercial use. Cloud technologies, which provide a foundation for IoT applications and analytics, came of age a decade ago. These maturing technologies, along with new, low-power processors and middleware platforms, significantly reduce IoT implementation costs. This makes business value of IoT solutions even more compelling for enterprises.


About the Author

Srinivas Rao Bhagavatula
Associate Vice President, IoT Practice

Srinivas heads the IoT Practice in Mindtree. His group focuses on building end-to-end solutions spanning devices, clouds and enterprises for Mindtree's customers. Srinivas has 20+ years of experience in the IT industry and has played the role of a solution architect in the recent past, and is now responsible for business development and capability building in the IoT space.

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