Industry 4.0 is here. This fourth industrial revolution is transforming manufacturing operations once again. Manufacturers today can take advantage of artificial intelligence, analytics, cloud solutions, and other cutting-edge technologies to improve decision-making, boost productivity, increase product quality, and enhance efficiency.

The Internet of Things (IoT) will play a key role in the realization of Industry 4.0. It offers a framework and common set of standards for supporting intelligent systems and for orchestrating solutions that fully control and automate devices.

Manufacturers can use IoT solutions to address important challenges they face on the manufacturing shop floor, including the need to:

  • Improve integration and transparency
  • Manage machine performance
  • Identify systemic production and quality issues
  • Establish operational traceability and management
  • Digest data for analytics and predictions
  • Integrate the shop floor and the top floor
  • Foster connectivity

But what exactly is IoT, and how can manufacturers implement it? What benefits could you achieve?

Defining IoT

IoT is a network of connected physical devices—or “things.” These devices capture data, perform local processing, and push data to the cloud for further processing, storage, analysis, and reporting.

IoT solutions connect small things (with simple and constrained data models) and big things (with complex data models) to the cloud using a consolidated platform. The IoT platform must manage data connectors for device integration, contain a smart layer for rules and automation, use an administration portal to manage users and applications, generate reports, and include a database platform to support big data and analytics (business intelligence).

IoT has a lot in common with industrial applications. By connecting equipment, sensors, and control systems, IoT solutions accelerate manufacturing of new products, provide dynamic feedback, and facilitate real-time optimization of production and supply chain operations

The Industrial IoT (IIoT) is a subset of IoT used in the manufacturing industry. IIoT stretches beyond connecting devices and acquiring data—it’s the path to something larger. IIoT solutions help improve visibility into processes, tighten security, increase control over systems, and more. For example, IIoT can be used for predictive maintenance: by tracking and analyzing critical machine variables, you can service equipment before problems arise.

For manufacturers, IIoT solutions are critical in moving forward with digital transformations. But many organizations need ways to reduce the potential complexity of IIoT implementations. They also need proven solutions that can quickly deliver tangible benefits so they can sustain support for IIoT initiatives from IT infrastructure and business groups.

Implementing IIoT for manufacturing with CenturyLink and SAP

CenturyLink and SAP offer solutions that can help manufacturers streamline implementation of IIoT and make the most of IIoT technologies for addressing challenges and facilitating digital transformations. For example, SAP Leonardo—a cloud-based platform that integrates technologies and services—brings together a wide variety of SAP applications for manufacturing, from shop-floor to top-floor solutions.

Using SAP Leonardo for IIoT, manufacturers can:

  • Establish quick, intuitive, and repeatable interaction among machines
  • Proactively and reactively manage machine performance
  • Determine how critical each machine is in an operation
  • Reveal systemic production and quality issues
  • Enable operational tracking and management
  • Stream digested data for analytics to reduce cost of central data centers

CenturyLink offers an array of SAP digital manufacturing solutions to help you capitalize on IIoT. These solutions are part of the comprehensive portfolio of SAP solutions and services provided by CenturyLink, which are offered alongside networking, hybrid IT and cloud, voice and unified communications, managed and IT services, and security solutions.

SAP solutions for IIoT offered by CenturyLink include:

SAP Plant Connectivity (PCo)—an IoT gateway that connects and integrates non-IP machines. PCo enables machine integration through multiple protocols, local data processing, and the ability to push data to other systems.

SAP Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence (SAP MII)—an IoT platform that contains all the key elements for developing an IoT solution, from data services and business logic services to visualization and data analytics. The platform includes specific manufacturing operations functions such as managing overall equipment effectiveness, plant information cataloging, KPIs, and alerts. It converts data from devices connected through PCo along with other disparate sources into an IoT application.

SAP Manufacturing Execution (SAP ME)—an IoT application that targets manufacturing operations, with functionality focused on shop-floor–to–top-floor integration. SAP ME helps improve product traceability, offers role-specific access and control, and manages all aspects of the manufacturing process.

Benefiting from real-world transformations

How are manufacturers using SAP solutions from CenturyLink to address operational challenges? A global specialty vehicle manufacturer wanted to replace manual processes and enhance visibility into those processes across all stages of production, in an effort to improve efficiency and quality.

A team from CenturyLink helped design, build, and deploy an IIoT solution from SAP that integrated shop-floor systems and provided operational plant dashboards—all on a tight schedule. The company gained real-time visibility into newly automated processes while saving time and money. Manufacturing teams now can track orders, address quality issues, and view production reports in real time.

Ready to learn more? Meet us at SAPPHIRE!

Stop by booth #719 at SAPPHIRE NOW and the ASUG Annual Conference. We’ll be happy to discuss how your manufacturing organization can reach the next level of digital transformation with SAP solutions for IIoT offered by CenturyLink.

You can also schedule an onsite meeting with our SAP experts.  Please click here to reserve your meeting time.

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