IoT Requires Teamwork

IoT spans multiple functions

I had the good fortune to be part of a Mariner team that was facilitating an IoT Quickstart workshop. Although the invitation was from a manufacturer’s IT team, they were wise enough to bring together production control, operations, ERP specialists and management. It was a wise thing to do because when you start out on an IoT journey in manufacturing you tend to span multiple functions within your organization and the sooner you bring them together the more likely you will build what is really needed the way you really need to build it.

IoT data flows across multiple responsibilities

An IoT project, like most other projects, it is a collection of small successes that accumulate to a big win. The first success was at the end of the workshop. Everyone had critiqued the pre-made list of ‘cool things to measure’ and agreed to focus on just one thing, something that generated value for all stakeholders, all the time and had a face-value ROI. In this case real-time actual units produced, pre-final-inspection. Not machine cycles, not post-inspection ready-to-ship units, but actual units produced and by which machine, down-to-the-second, they were actually made, combined with a status of is the machine was running or no.

But you can’t disband the team after the first meeting, you need more little successes along the way to ultimately win big. If you care to draw a picture of an IoT data flow, most show data flowing from the equipment on the left of the sheet to the analytics on the right of the sheet. Across that sheet you can often draw a series of vertical lines that separates different responsibilities, e.g. Operators, Shift leaders/Supervisors, Maintenance Teams, Scada/HMI and Network people, ERP support/BA, Production Management, Finance and eventually ‘C’ level leadership.

IoT spans multiple functions and requires a multitude of skills to succeed
IoT spans multiple functions and requires a multitude of skills to succeed

IoT projects require a multitude of skills

Spanning them all is your IoT design which may look like Sensors>Gateway >IoT hub> Analytics: Done. All of which is taking place in a serene cloud architecture way above all the problems of the plant floor, back-offices and board-rooms below. Some would say that isn’t the correct way to picture it at all, because it is complicated down below and ignoring those complications has consequences. Especially as every day those people are thinking about their workload, not your IoT project and only if you can ultimately lighten their load can you expect them to really help. If you don’t keep the team together then perhaps you will miss things like this:

  • Operators advice on how the new sensors might get in the way of their normal motion, and how inappropriate placement could trick/confuse sensor readings.
  • Supervisors listing all the scenarios where you can’t accept the sensors readings on face value, e.g. during setup/change over operations and what those ‘signatures’, look like.
  • Maintenance teams not advising and agreeing on initial placement and re-calibration/inspection cycles and advising on the vintage/spec limitations of the machines.
  • IT teams not sharing ideas on the consequence of ERP, MES, plant-floor data-capture limitations and mitigation strategies, or certification expectations to use cloud infrastructure.
  • HMI/SCADA teams providing advice on limitations of network, Wi-Fi, blue-tooth and cellular options within the plant and foibles of existing historians and dataloggers.
  • Finance and production explaining how raw counts are refined into ultimate net figures and the realizable value of knowing what the sensor data can tell them.

Teamwork… without that thoughtful and considered insight from all those people, you can procure the wrong sensors, install them ineffectively to measure the wrong thing inaccurately and miss-interpret the results. But, if you invite everyone to your IoT party it is more likely to result in a big win. For everyone.

Ready to talk more about what an IoT project might look like for your organization?  We’d love to be a part of your team…  Let us help!

Peter Darragh

Peter Darragh

Vice President of Delivery at Mariner
In his business development capacity Peter helps executives evaluate the impact digital investments can have on their business models and operations. In his delivery role, he manages the teams that apply their data integration, analytics, process automation and machine learning expertise to make our customers digital masters.

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