How to Clear IIoT Adoption Hurdles

How to Clear IIoT Adoption Hurdles

A growing majority of senior business leaders in the material handling industry report that digital transformation is a top priority. However, very few of those leaders have translated their priority into specific initiatives. For those companies whose industrial internet of things (IIoT) initiatives are falling behind or outright failing, it can also be difficult to pinpoint the causes. 

In our most recent On The Move webinar, Drive Real Business Results With IIoT Adoption, I discussed common IIoT project challenges and the best practices for ensuring a successful digital transformation. According to a 2019 MHI study, the most common barriers to successful IIoT adoption can be traced to three primary causes:

  1. Lack of understating of the technology landscape and its effects on our business
  2. Lack of adequate talent to effectively implement and utilize the technology
  3. Lack of a clear business case to justify the investment

These top barriers are not mutually exclusive. Regardless of which of these issues is your primary barrier, a comprehensive strategic approach must factor in the financial impacts of your IIoT initiative. While we explored a complete process for successful adoption in the webinar, here are a few steps to help you get started: 

Start small with a clearly defined scope

Everyone is eager to explore IIoT’s potential capabilities, and can be susceptible to all the marketing hype. It’s easy to succumb to the excitement and try to implement IIoT on too large of a scale, or move too quickly. One common misperception about digital transformation is that it’s an all-or-nothing prospect, when in fact it may be better to think of it as an iterative process. I recommend starting with a specific initiative (such as lowering the unplanned downtime of a sortation system) and conducting a clearly defined, time-bound IIoT trial. 

By aligning the initiative with a known issue, creating an actionable plan and setting goals for desired financial outcomes, you can evaluate the success of your efforts — often within months. Then, once you’ve achieved your goals, you can scale your success or reinvest in the next IIoT initiative.

Build a capable IIoT innovation team

Another key factor to IIoT success is building a team that’s capable of delivering results at each stage of the process. Key internal roles typically include:

  • Visionary — establishes the vision and provide clear direction
  • Motivator — engages the team with a common goal and coaches others along the way
  • Executor —brings the necessary resources and capabilities to drive change through your organization 

Completing the rest of the team often requires the support of an external IIoT service provider for a variety of functions, including IT support, technical support, data scientists, software developers, consulting and adoption coaches. According to a recent Forbes Insights report, 66 percent of companies include and collaborate with external vendors on their IIoT planning teams. 

Create a strong business case

Companies that have already achieved success in their digital transformation cited the preparation of a strong business case as a key success factor. This important early step requires modelling the business impacts of an IIoT program and evaluating its potential financial benefits — typically measured in terms of cost avoidance and continuous improvement. 

Cost avoidance looks at quantifying and reducing risks that lead to interruptions in normal operations and production, as well as the associated, unplanned expenses. It also includes the benefits of disrupting more expensive risk mitigation plans, such as carrying a large inventory. 

Continuous improvements cover the financial impacts of increased productivity (of the system and labor) when assets are not tied up in sub-optimal processes or sub-standard operation.  Companies can quantify and measure the operational benefits — which in the example of the sortation system, translates into a reduction in error rates like jams, no-reads, mis-tracks and bad gaps.

Creating a well-thought-out and well-planned business case helps not only provide alignment and motivation during the IIoT innovation process, but also creates clear benchmarks to measure, correct and drive the program’s success. To learn more about how Honeywell Intelligrated can help your IIoT initiatives succeed, view the Drive Real Business Results With IIoT Adoption webinar in its entirety.

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