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Article by Andreas Griesser

There is plenty of opportunity and room for innovation around the IoT. But Swiss manufacturers must move fast and act now to stay ahead of competitors.

Swiss manufacturers face pressure on costs in a hugely competitive and fragmented market. Some companies have made a start with IoT initiatives, but many are falling short of the full Industry 4.0 opportunity. Companies must fully integrate and automate these IoT solutions and an analytics platform to not only reduce costs but open up the potential for new products and services.

Competitive and fragmented markets, economic headwinds and rising operational costs are squeezing manufacturers and industrial companies in Switzerland and across Europe.

These pressures also present an opportunity to take a huge leap forward through digital transformation. The Internet of Things (IoT) enables manufacturers to integrate their core asset-heavy operational technology with IT to align supply, production and distribution far more efficiently and effectively. In addition to improving operational efficiency the IoT also enables manufacturers to innovate and move up the value chain by offering connected products and new services that tap into the data collected through these IoT solutions.

Take the example of Swedish welding equipment manufacturer ESAB, which cut the time to market of its products by 40 per cent using the IoT. And German farming machinery manufacturer Krone now has IoT sensors on its machinery that collect real-time data that is sent to the cloud and processed and then made available to farmers so that they can improve the quality of their crops by adjusting levels of fertilizers.

A recent Cognizant-sponsored survey of 250 executives in large and medium process and discrete manufacturers across Europe reveals 72 per cent of companies plan to increase their IoT spending in the next three years. But many of these IoT implementations are often not automated and lots of manual work still has to be done to collect and analyse the data and extract actionable insights.

The IoT is a key part of much digital transformation, but it is not simply a matter of putting some sensors on a machine and developing some software around it. Data needs to be collected, integrated, stored, engineered and analysed across the whole line. Manufacturers must invest not only in IoT solutions but also in integrating the underlying infrastructure, such as data analytics platforms.

The first steps on the road to an IoT implementation start with digitising the supply chain. This brings useful insights for management. It means companies actually get to work hands on with IoT solutions and start to see the possibilities. This then leads to new ideas, inspired dialogue, and digital technology as part of their mindset.

For Swiss manufacturers the competition is fierce and there is no time to waste. Digital IoT solutions can be developed very fast and, within a short period of time, a manufacturer can potentially offer IT services too. And because Swiss manufacturers are world-class in creating added value for customers, they understand this holistic digital agenda that is required to truly create the smart factories and digital supply chains of the future.

Despite the economic and market pressures there are many IoT-enabled opportunities for manufacturers. But moving fast is essential. Make a start and act now – if you don’t your competitors will.


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