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Operating in the Age of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

The Business Case for the Smart Factory


Operating in the Age of the Industrial

Internet of Things (IIoT)
The 21st century is moving at a tremendous pace with technology taking us places, both personally and
professionally, that most of us would not have envisioned 10 years ago. From a manufacturing perspective, these
advances are heralding another industrial revolution.
Continual improvements in broadband, both wired and
wireless, an increase in the amount of data we have access
to, as well as the ability to process, analyze and act on that
data, will continue to influence manufacturing at a rapid rate
for the foreseeable future.

These changes are reverberating on the production floor and

creating new possibilities in product creation. The movement
towards this new model is so pervasive, it has its own name,
the Smart Factory.

The Business Case for the Smart Factory

What is the Smart

As the world becomes more connected through technology,
there is significant momentum to make products smarter by
interconnecting them via sensors and other data collection
and transmission mechanisms. This interconnectedness is
the backbone of the Smart Factory, also called the Industrial
Internet of Things (IIoT).
By giving a digital voice to these devices, they are able to
communicate, and provide the machines and people they are
connected with the ability to monitor and make decisions.
Depending on the device and the level of functionality within
the sensor, these interconnected devices become smart
machines with capabilities that range from simple sensing
and actuating, to control, optimization and fully autonomous
operation. Software applications can take advantage of all the
information normally hidden in databases or just lost in the
digital ether, allowing the system to make timelier and smarter
decisions about matters in the real world. This is the core of
the Smart Factory.
When we talk about the Smart Factory, we are talking about
a networked environment where machine to machine, human
to human, and human to machine communication is the
norm. This connectivity brings improvements to operations
that not only streamlines production, but creates better quality
products, while also keeping a closer check on production
The traditional manufacturing world is converging with the
digital manufacturing world to enable organizations to digitally
plan and project the entire lifecycle of products and production
facilities. This offers tremendous benefits to the production
process, with significant cost benefits and faster, ready to
market capabilities that grow even more robust over time.

The Business Case for the Smart Factory

Smart Data
The Smart Factory creates a highly dynamic and responsive
environment because everything is integrated and works
collectively for superior functionality. From pre-planning
to execution, all departments and machines, are digitally
connected across all levels of production, and data is what
keeps it flowing.
Data is the fuel of the 21st century and the data your business
creates is like a thumbprint, embedded with information that
is unique to your operations. This proprietary intelligence, and
what it can accomplish, is where the Smart Factory creates its
greatest value.
Before we continue, lets talk about what we mean by smart.
Through the 20th century, our world has communicated
in a rather linear way with information moving in a physical
manner. As we have digitized that information, it has been
allowed to move through an ever expanding connected world,
via the internet, increasing the ways we are able to deliver
In the early part of the 21st century, the advances in both the
amount of data that can be sent and the speed at which it can
be transmitted, as well as the increasing capabilities to mine
new insights from this data, are leading us to the era of big
data and data analytics.
What is big data? It is high-volume data delivered at high
speed, which contains a wide variety of information in
innovative forms that allows information processing, enabling
enhanced insight, decision making, and process automation.
Going forward, how we produce and manufacture will be
driven by big data, and the analytics needed to process it.

Imagine having sensors on all machinery in a production

center that offer real-time visibility into how each is operating.
Utilizing software that performs advanced analytics can also
show quality, performance and variances by each machine
and its operators. This is invaluable in streamlining workflows
and keeping production running, unimpeded by breakdowns
on the production floor.
By utilizing big data and advanced analytics, all business
functions can be kept in the loop and utilize the data with
their own focus in mind. The potential collaboration and
efficiencies facilitated by simultaneous data access provides
tremendous competitive advantages. Being able to know
(down to the machine level) if the factory floor is running
efficiently empowers production planners and senior
management to know how best to scale operations. By
unifying daily production with financial metrics, manufacturers
have a greater chance of scaling their operations profitably.
Your businesss thumbprint, personally powers your
operations to optimum efficiency, is the important takeaway.
The potential that big data and data analytics brings to a
business is limitless. Collecting data from every conceivable
aspect of production means that there is continuous process
improvement. New insights can lead to new understandings
of a businesss capabilities both in more efficient operation,
as well as revealing new product ideas. Once the product is
delivered, customer service takes on new significance when
you can monitor those products and proactively provide
preventative maintenance recommendations based on
operations data.
The power of big data is tremendous and is already
reshaping the design and manufacturing landscape. As
that landscape changes, it will not be a slow evolution.
Businesses that strive to strategically utilize data will better
their position to compete within the transformed operational
and customer service climate that is taking shape.

The Business Case for the Smart Factory

Global Conversation
In the age of big data and the Smart Factory,
its important to realize that our relationships
are expanding in ways we might not have
encountered before. This impacts all of our
relationships: interdepartmental, vendors,
customers and machines.
The required conversations start internally
within our own companies. The connection we
now share through technology and big data
allows an effective entrance to developing this
While connecting to your database offers a
wealth of benefits, one of the most dynamic is
the collaborative opportunities it generates. If
you think of an organization as a living thing,
data is the bloodstream that touches every part
of the organization and supports it.
The engineering department is a good example
of this. Engineering organizations rely on a
range of functional expertise to accomplish their
goals. The various disciplines that are needed
to design a product, such as: manufacturing
operations, purchasing, marketing and sales, all
need to work together.
At EPLAN, we realized that connecting to
a companys database is necessary for
creating efficient engineering approaches.
Specifically, the EPLAN Platform delivers this
data simultaneously, to relevant departments,
allowing the organization to work on a project
at the same time, instead of in sequence, which
has been the practice with traditional CAD.

Working at the same time instead of in

sequence offers opportunities that are just not
possible with traditional methods. Instead of
passing designs over the wall and having
each discipline work separately, engineers can
now collaborate on the design in real time. This
conversation affords a much quicker design
process; meaning sales can provide quotes
quicker, purchasing can have a better handle
on ordering, marketing is better connected
to the manufacturing process and actual
machine-building can begin sooner.
This conversation extends beyond the Smart
Factory walls and impacts all stakeholder touch
points. For example, customers are going to be
more demanding as they learn the cost savings
and time efficiencies that can be delivered in
a Smart Factory. There is also the opportunity
for customization and smaller batch sizes that
have the potential of being realized with this
We headed this section Global Conversation,
because these conversations often take us
beyond borders and across oceans. As the
world becomes more interconnected, it is
important that our method of communication
accommodates that. Having our data as the
medium and having systems in place that
transmit and receive data at peak efficiency and
reliability, needs to be of primary importance.
By harnessing a networked architecture,
the Smart Factory brings intelligence to
manufacturing that allows the machines to
have a voice in the production process.

Machines communicating their equipment

performance and resource needs allows
for proactive response and less downtime.
Plant-wide visibility also offers greater humanmachine interface with remote access to the
production floor, further enhancing efficiency.
Additionally, interconnected machines offer
greater automation and self-monitoring
potential without the need for human
This is the proverbial tip of the iceberg. The
artificial and human intelligence that feeds the
Smart Factory, propels these conversations
and provides for continual process
improvement and innovation.
The IIoT is also deeply impacting vendor
relationships. For example, connection to
suppliers can be richer, facilitating quick and
more cost-effective dynamics.
Looking at how technology connects us to our
vendors in new ways is also worth exploring.
These alliances and the innovation they provide
is shown with the EPLAN Data Portal.
The EPLAN Data Portal provides online
access to valuable device data from numerous
component manufacturers. This real-time data
can then be dragged and dropped into EPLAN
projects, ensuring that accurate component
data is embedded in the documentation.
Simply adding the components available to
the project reduces time-consuming work
and increases the quality of the machine and
system documentation.

The Business Case for the Smart Factory

In Real Time
In the same way that our brain communicates
with the body, the Smart Factory concept
shows us how manufacturing can
communicate, coordinate, and provide
corrective actions throughout the system in real
What does this real-time process mean? Here
are some examples:

Predictive maintenance the flow of this

data allows for machines to give a health
status that facilitates predictive maintenance,
preventing breakdown and slow down during
manufacturing. In many cases, this can be
performed without human interaction.

Predictable productivity the ability to

scale up or scale down production processes
more precisely, even down to a batch size of
Adaptive analytics with continuing
analysis of the data you can adapt your
production environment on all levels and
increase efficiency, speed and cost factors.
Lower operating costs more specifically
gauge use and reduction potential for
personnel, energy, and process costs.

The Economic Case for the Smart Factory

Once the work order comes in, the
communication with the customer can
be spotty at best, especially if in-house
collaboration works along traditional lines.
Shuttling the design between various
departments can be time consuming and
management of the project can be daunting.
The Smart Factory, with its more fluid
approach, can also mean better synergy with
the customer.
By utilizing digital designs, manufacturers
can communicate the design process more
effectively and gain valuable input from the
customer at key points of the planning stage.
The ability to hold frequent mini-design reviews
with the customer allows input at key stages
of the design process before the approval
drawings are complete. This offers a much
more efficient method of design and allows the
end user to provide needed feedback. Also,
the design team receives input as to whether or
not they are headed in the right direction early
in the process.
3D prototypes of enclosures provide easy
visualization of the design while still in a virtual
state and can capture customer changes
before metal is cut, thereby reducing cost and
speeding manufacturing.
This communication extends beyond
deliverables. Now more than ever, we live in
a real-time world with the internet providing
instantaneous information and communication.
This dynamic is impacting how individuals
and businesses operate. Your customers will
demand greater accountability and connection
going forward. Documentation is one example


of how this will evolve.

Paper documentation that accompanies
machinery has led to significant problems.
The risk of damage or being misplaced is
high. Keeping a digital record of a CAD project
usually involves multiple incompatible file
formats. When needed, this documentation
can prove to be cumbersome and inefficient if
maintenance needs to be done.
As IIoT evolves and customers become aware
that documentation can be better assimilated
into the product they buy. This level of
customer service will not just be considered
value added, but mandatory.
Database-centric engineering software
like EPLAN archives projects in one format
which can be revised as warranted. Digital
documentation stays with the product
throughout its life cycle and operates in real
time with up to date information, such as
part substitutions, upgrades, and add-ons.
Documentation can also be imported onto
a mobile device for access while in the field
working on the machine.
These are just some of the ways IIoT is
changing the dynamic while providing
innovative ways for businesses to build a
better product and provide added value
to their relationship with their customers.
Collaborative efforts and the synergy
they create, allow for continuous process
improvement, which means better products
and enhanced customer service. This is the
future of production, and the time is now to
prepare for it.



The Smart Factory Movement

Although the term Smart Factory has only been in existence
for a handful of years, EPLAN has been providing key
infrastructure needed for the movement for more than three
decades. Aside from the EPLAN Platform, which helps gear
factories for IIoT, we also offer consulting services.
Our consultants can identify cost reduction and increased
efficiency opportunities along your engineering process.
By working with your staff, we can develop a solution that
provides more integration and optimized processes, thus
improving your companys workflow.

Process standardization and documentation are directly
proportional to quality, cost and time spent. All three
productivity factors can be positively affected.
Repetitive working processes can be optimized and
automated. Using EPLAN data engineering you can
streamline highly repetitive electrical design processes.
Professional project management
For complex projects, one of our experienced project

Engineering process
Engineering processes are changing rapidly. We provide
you with solutions with which you can meet these
challenges today and in the future.

managers will help you. They will take over the coordination
of internal and external partners, depending on your needs.

Implementation concepts
We offer a professional and direct start in the EPLAN
Platform with our implementation concepts. You can
quickly secure the desired efficiency in the design.

EPLAN Software & Service

Contact Us
425 N. Martingale Rd., Ste 470
Schaumburg, IL 60173
Phone: 847-240-4667