12 IoT Manufacturing Trends to Watch Out For

12 IoT Manufacturing Trends to Watch Out For BayControls Banner Image

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been the buzzword the past few years in industries as varied as utilities and material handling.  Everything is becoming “smart” now: smartphones, smart cars, smart grids, smart lighting—and smart manufacturing.

IoT is poised to disrupt manufacturing and change it irrevocably. As Kevin O’Marah and Pierfrancesco Manenti note in their IndustryWeek article:

“Manufacturing worldwide is on the cusp of a revolution. New information technologies are suddenly offering not only to make the management of manufacturing more effective, as we saw with early versions of plant and enterprise software, but the work itself smarter.”  

As a manufacturer, there are several trends that are already affecting your industry and some that are due to happen within the next few years.

Here are 12 specific trends to watch out for as manufacturing, like much of the rest of the world, moves into a new era of interconnectedness and big data:

1) Visibility across entire facilities will increase exponentially.

O’Marah and Manenti point out that with IoT, manufacturers will be able to “see” every production unit.

As a result, your visibility will not be limited to batch-level activities; instead, you’ll have unit-level visibility.

Per the Visibility Maturity Model that O’Marah and Manenti prepared in a field survey for CM World, most manufacturers expect that offline factory operations—which some companies still have—will reduce to almost zero within the next few years:

*Source: http://www.industryweek.com/manufacturing-smarter

2) Many manufacturers believe that IoT will improve their key manufacturing metrics and KPIs.

During their CM World field survey, O’Marah and Manenti found that the majority of the people surveyed thought that smart manufacturing would increase their equipment readings and effectiveness:

*Source: http://www.industryweek.com/manufacturing-smarter

3) All information will be captured in real time. You then will be able to take this visible data and translate it into actionable insights.

O’Marah and Manenti explain that this is the whole point of IoT and smart manufacturing: to have complete visibility into all facets of your business, from supply chain to product design.

You will be able to have real-time data and virtually track every operation in your facility. The actionable insights provided through data analysis will allow you to implement new best practices or projects as well.

4) Manufacturing spending on IoT investments will continue to increase.

John Greenbough points out in an article for Business Insider that the IoT spend for manufacturers is anticipated to increase to $70 billion by 2020.

5) Though most of the current IoT installations are basic, they will become more complex over the next few years.

Greenbough explains that manufacturers will most likely move from installing asset-tracking solutions and predictive maintenance tools to more complicated technologies like augmented reality (AR) tools.

6) IoT is starting a fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0.

Markus Löffler, a principal at McKinsey & Company, describes this as “a new wave of technological changes that will decentralize production control and trigger a paradigm shift in manufacturing.”

7) All aspects of production will become networked and interlinked, leading to more convoluted logistics and supplier relationships.

Siegfried Dais from Robert Bosch GmbH and Heinz Derenbach from Bosch Software Innovations GmbH explain that manufacturers will have to communicate with more suppliers (often across the world).

In addition, both transport times and the number of manufacturing steps will increase.

8) Physical flows and information flows will become interconnected.

In the past—and even now—many manufacturers thought of physical flows, or the actual flow of goods and services, were separate from information flows.  That’s changing with IoT.

The phrase IoT itself conveys this: internet, or information, is inseparably tied to things now. Things—physical objects and materials—are linked. As an example, your mechanical engineering processes will now be tied to your IT department.

9) Because of this interconnectedness, manufacturers will need new forms of industry standardization, and processes and devices will become intertwined.  

Heinz Derenbach explains:

“The next big step will be to think through the interdependencies among the machine, the production components, the manufacturing environment, and the IT that connects it all, so that the production technology controlling the machines merges with the technical data of the components. This requires a high degree of standardization so that the machine knows what it needs to do to any given component, and the components can confirm that the machine has done it. Such IT linkage goes far beyond current manufacturing systems.”

As such, physical devices will be included in processes now. “What this means for the plant is that machines and work flows merge to become a single entity,” Löffler states.

10) Companies will require data-measuring devices and data-analyzing tools in order to maintain their competitive advantage.

If you don’t do so, you may not be able to keep up with your competitors, which can negatively affect your business in the short run and the long run.

11) Barriers to adoption will decrease for manufacturers—particularly small and medium-sized businesses. 

Bob McCutcheon, Bobby Bono, and Bob Pethic from PwC explain that this is because newer and more cost-effective solutions are penetrating the market.

12) In the automotive industry specifically, there will be faster car design cycles because of IoT. 

In an article for Deloitte University Press, Simon Ninan, Bharath Gangula, Matthias von Alten, and Brenna Sniderman write:

“Rapid advances in technology have forced a continuous reduction in the time it takes to bring a new product to market: While mobile-device makers typically issue annual updates, the automotive development cycle is far longer—about six to seven years, with a market lifecycle of seven to fifteen years.”

Consequently, because the development and life cycles of cars are much longer than software, smartphones, and the like, automakers need to speed up the car design cycle to keep pace with IoT.


As IoT and smart manufacturing continue to radically change the manufacturing world as we know it, don’t run from the future; embrace it.

Myriad tools and solutions out there can improve your production and operations and bring about cost-saving measures. Stay ahead of the game. Gather data and make it work for your advantage.

At Bay Controls, we’re here for you every step of the way. Let us know if you have any questions about IoT; we look forward to helping you build connected solutions for tomorrow’s industrial facilities.

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