As the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to emerge and develop, lean manufacturing experts agree that the data gleaned from machine to machine (M2M) communications stands to offer significant efficiency refinements to operations, both on the plant floor and throughout the supply chain.

Tony Winter, CTO of global ERP company QAD Inc, says, "By capturing larger volumes of data, we're going to see patterns we've not seen before to drive the next level of efficiency within the plant, the manufacturing processes, and across the whole supply chain."

The manufacturing efficiency refinements served up by the IoT include not only more accurate supply and demand forecasts, but also preventive maintenance improvements and a "supercharger" of sorts for operations running Six Sigma.

Preventive Maintenance

The data provided up by IoT presents the potential for significant cost savings when it comes to preventive maintenance.

Josh Greenbaum, president of Berkeley, CA consulting firm Enterprise Applications Consulting, says,"Everyone does preventive maintenance based on a mean-time-to-failure analysis, but IoT literally lets you listen to the hum of the turbines and know by frequency whether they are out of spec and need to be fixed now. That's a huge change in how companies are doing maintenance, which would have a significant impact on costs."

Six Sigma

John Denzel , CEO of lean manufacturing consultancy FlowVision LLC explains how IoT-generated data can supercharge a manufacturing operation's Six Sigma initiative:  "Now you can do Six Sigma with really big data. What that buys you is process control and a lack of variation of product. You modernize processes in real time instead of inspecting machines at the end. Eventually, that helps you improve yields and reduce scrap."

Perhaps Gartner was wrong about IoT after all?

Michael Lee is the Managing Director of Quality Deployment. He can be reached at insights@qdbve.com.

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