Industry 4.0 is not a buzzword anymore. There have been multiple use cases for Industry 4.0, particularly the case for IoT technology in manufacturing. It is necessary to have your manufacturing side of things digitally integrate with your existing technologies across the product life cycle chain. This is where product life cycle management (PLM) comes into the picture. PLM becomes the single source of truth for all the information and data regarding the product, right from the ideation stage to the sales stage. A few suppliers have made some noise in the IoT space with respect to PLM, notably, the likes of Siemens, PTC, Autodesk, Dassault Systemes and a few more with dedicated plans to incorporate a strategy for IoT technology and industrial automation.
PTC, regarded as one of the leaders in the industry, made an early move into the IoT technology space by acquiring the ThingWorx IoT platform in 2013. They have maintained their focus on innovating in the IoT space by investing significantly into this portfolio. More recently, they also entered into a partnership with Rockwell Automation, where Rockwell invested $1 billion in PTC to combine ThingWorx with Rockwell’s analytics and industrial automation capabilities (FactoryTalk). This partnership would make PTC a more competent option for enterprises looking to invest in the industrial IoT and automation space. This partnership also gives PTC an edge by allowing them to tap into the huge customer base which Rockwell Automation brings in and vice-versa.
Similarly, Siemens has also made some movement in the digitization and IoT space. They have developed a platform MindSphere, which was launched with an update in early 2018. Siemens believes in developing valuable partnerships with providers to leverage the complete capabilities of their platform MindSphere. They have partnered with Atos and SQS to build applications on their platform and recently acquired Mendix in August 2018 to further boost their capabilities to have applications to interact with IoT devices on the MindSphere platform. This has positioned them as one of the leading suppliers to innovate in digitization.
Similarly, a host of other suppliers, including Dassault Systemes and Autodesk, have made a move toward incorporating IoT. There are other ERP providers such as SAP, Infor and Oracle as well as some others like Aras, Arena Solutions, Propel, etc. who are yet to make a move to incorporate this technology.
IoT and digital transformation have accelerated the innovation pace for suppliers and the PLM domain as a whole. Enterprises are looking to adopt these new technologies to reap benefits in terms of data. Data which can be harvested with a PLM system and integrated with IoT devices can influence multiple business decisions such as predicting maintenance cycles, obtaining key quality points, collecting data to detect and prevent major disruptions in production cycles, etc. These insights would be extremely valuable data points for enterprises to innovate faster and provide better customer service for newer products, minimize risk, be better prepared for failures, reduce maintenance costs and maintain equipment to sustain for a longer time. Incorporating IoT technology with your PLM is a major sourcing activity where several teams, namely, IT, strategy, product and so on, must work together. With KPIs and metrics in place, an enterprise can observe a decrease in overall cost coupled with increase in quality and agility with respect to product development.