Welcome to Industry 4.0: Supporting the Internet of Things with print

Welcome to Industry 4.0: Supporting the Internet of Things with print

The Internet of Things is set to revolutionise business, but no industry will benefit more from this new network of technologies than the manufacturing sector. The practice of connecting machinery, equipment, computers, power networks, and many other devices may be in its early stages, but companies are adopting IoT technology at an unprecedented rate.

Business Insider reported that 18 percent of industrial companies are already leveraging the IoT and always-connected devices, while automotive manufacturers, creators of consumer electronics and telecommunications firms have an adoption rate of 17 percent. The aerospace and defence sectors are close behind at 15 percent, and the biopharmaceutical industry rests around 13 percent.

This just demonstrates how many different use cases there are for the IoT. The source noted that plastics manufacturer Petrobas Zarate of Argentina uses sensors to maintain and monitor temperatures, while Volkswagen installed an SAP system that tracks vehicle parts across the supply chain. Experts call this revolution Industry 4.0, as it represents the fourth wave in manufacturing’s technological change. Product Design and Development cited a McKinsey & Company report stating that the manufacturing sector will be completely different by 2025 thanks to the IoT.

“The IoT will lead to an enormously complex network of suppliers, logistics and devices.”

Introducing all manufacturers and their employees to the IoT won’t be an easy task. Andreas Tschiesner of McKinsey explained that the IoT will lead to an enormously complex network of suppliers, logistics and devices. While printers could feasibly connect to these complicated systems, manufacturers would be better off taking advantage of managed print services for documentation, training, and visibility into the IoT.

Take printers offline
The first step is to remove all unnecessary devices from existing networks, making room for a wide variety of different gadgets, from light sensors and temperature gauges to manufacturing equipment and vehicles. This will free up bandwidth for mission-critical tasks, while also helping to keep intellectual property and corporate trade secrets safe.

Product Design and Development noted that the McKinsey report stressed the importance of strong cybersecurity, as every device on these massive networks represents an intrusion point. Simply put, if a cybercriminal gains access to an IoT-connected sensor, they will have full reign over corporate networks. By removing printers from this equation and perhaps relying on cloud-based e-content platforms, manufacturers are keeping their data safe and secure.

Produce training docs and maintenance manuals
With dozens of new tools, the automation of tasks and less employees needed to fill roles, every staff member becomes more important. To train these new employees or existing professionals, manufacturers can turn to managed print services to create compendiums of knowledge or quick cheat sheet brochures to ensure that everyone is operating on the same page. Jobs will inevitably blend, meaning that less people know more, and Markus Löffler of McKinsey said that mechanical engineers could even become their own IT support, only stressing the importance of proper training.

Everyone is talking about the Internet of Things.Everyone is talking about the Internet of Things.

Connectivity maps
As the IoT grows in complexity, how are manufacturers going to be able to keep track of all IoT-connected devices? In the same way that telecom firms develop maps for Internet connectivity, these companies can pinpoint all existing RFID chips, machines, vehicles, and equipment, creating a document that easily identifies all connections. This can make maintenance easier, as well as help a manufacturer stand out from the competition.

And you thought the IoT had nothing to do with managed print services. It turns out that the more digital industries become, the greater the need for training and physical documentation, making cloud-based printing services ideal once the IoT hits your plant.


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