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The Internet of Things (IoT) has the power to change the way companies do business, all the way down to the process by which products are made. IoT involves Internet-connected devices speaking to the manufacturer or the consumer about any number of things, like usage, maintenance, or location. IoT helps manufacturers, as an example, understand how their products are being used and how they are operating, which they can then use to build better products. The amount of data that this creates is astounding, and continues to grow every year.

Of course devices can talk all they want, but if no one is listening useful data just ends up wasting away on a server somewhere. It isn’t enough just to collect data from devices, although it is a crucial first step. What really matters is how your company analyzes the data it collects, and then  puts it to work. If you aren’t using the data in a relevant manner, to build a better product and better serve your customers, you are losing a valuable resource. One way that companies are using IoT to build better products and engage with customers is through Industry 4.0, or capitalizing on IoT to change the way products are made. This happens in a connected factory. Industry 4.0 is a new paradigm in manufacturing where the systems are more interconnected, or a connected factory. With a connected factory, companies are able to achieve a market of one. In the age of 3D printers and made-to-order products, consumers expect to be able to customize almost everything they order. Just a few years ago, this would have been nearly impossible or incredibly expensive for most manufacturing facilities. Now, with Industry 4.0 and the connected factory, it is getting easier to serve that market of one.

One popular motorcycle company is a great example of a connected factory that serves a market of one.  A custom design from this company used to take a long time and cost a lot. By capitalizing on the benefits Industry 4.0, they have a connected factory. Now customers can select every element of their motorcycle, from top to bottom, suited exactly to their needs.  As the motorcycle travels through the connected factory, each department knows which parts to add thanks to the computer system. The customer receives a motorcycle built for their market of one, and the company has a precisely-built product – increasing customer satisfaction and ultimately business success.  IoT helps the manufacturer once a product leaves the connected factory. IoT allows a company to change from being reactive with its service to being proactive. Data gathered through IoT can help the company predict when parts might need maintenance, and fix them before they are ever worn out. This improves not only product’s performance but also the customer experience. IoT, Industry 4.0, the connected factory – all of these can help companies run faster and better when implemented in the right way. The face of industries is changing. Is your company ready?

Learn more about building a connected factory: http://www.sap.com/bin/sapcom/en_us/downloadasset.2015-10-oct-16-19.build-a-connected-factory-pdf.bypassReg.html

Best Regards,
Michael Cressman
Senior Director
Global Product Owner – Manufacturing Execution

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