As investment in the Internet of Things rises, PMMI’s Tom Egan offers a closer look at the trend.

In highly regulated industries like the food sector, the Internet of Things (IoT) is bringing revolutionary change by connecting intelligent machines and advanced analytics in order to address growing concerns about compliance and efficiency. According to the 2016 Business Insider report, global manufacturers will invest $70 billion in IoT solutions in the year 2020 alone. This figure, compared to the $29 billion invested in 2015, is a clear indication that the IoT trend isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. In order to address the exponential increase of IoT and the benefits this technology provides, we sat down with Tom Egan, vice president, Industry Services at PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies to discuss how IoT is changing manufacturing.

More and more manufacturers are integrating IoT in their day-to-day production. What is the reason for the growing demand of IoT?

TE: The reason behind the importance of IoT integration is that it enables manufacturers to collect greater amounts of data on their production operation. However, it’s not so much about the collection of data that is relevant; it is much more about the analytics associated with that data. For example, if a company is running 400-800 bottles a minute and rejecting six bottles on average, those six bottles may not seem all that critical or useful. However, if the analytics provided by IoT data show an increase in the number of bottles rejected immediately after the start of a new label run, then the company can project that every time that they do a new label run, they are going to have a drop-off in production. Using IoT, manufacturers can start strategizing ways to avoid these types of issues. It’s this type of phenomenal data, based on significantly greater analytics, that allows companies to improve at a much faster pace than before integrating IoT-enabled devices.

How has the growing use of IoT technology impacted end users as part of the broader manufacturing community? How about suppliers?

TE: As it relates specifically to manufacturing, the opportunity to share information between a supplier and the end user that’s actually using the equipment provides significant, mutually beneficial capability. Now, instead of looking at the production numbers and doing a past tense analysis, manufacturers can begin to look at the production data in real time to troubleshoot issues and aggregate information, like changeover time and energy usage, to better understand their overall line productivity. Additionally, as the end user examines this data, the company can share it with the OEM, affording their supplier more intimate access to the inner workings of their production operations that will enable them to provide better service and inform the development of next generation equipment with even better performance.

What are the most important trends or issues manufacturers must consider as IoT becomes a more common tool among them?

TE: The sheer amount of information and data points that IoT solutions are able to provide can be particularly overwhelming. In terms of improving production lines, it is important for manufacturers to have a foundational understanding of what these points mean. As companies receiving this data gain greater analytics capabilities, they must reflect their findings to operators in a way that creates meaningful change on the production line.

PMMI represents many packaging technology suppliers. How are the exhibitors at this year’s PACK EXPO International reacting to this demand?

TE: We expect just about every supplier at this year’s PACK EXPO International is going to talk about IoT capability and, more generally, capabilities in collecting data that provides meaningful analytics. It is going to be a major focus point for equipment manufacturers who are eager to share the solutions to common productions issues, like decreasing changeover time and maximizing energy efficiency. This year, exhibitors are going to be able to point out specifically where IoT can help customers optimize their lines.

At PACK EXPO International 2016, many of the conference sessions will reflect the burgeoning trend of IoT, including an Innovation Stage session from GE Digital, which intends to discuss “How the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) Provides a Critical Competitive Edge in Manufacturing.” Additionally, Rockwell Automation will be speaking to Remote Monitoring on a broad scale. We are excited to have suppliers share their experience with IoT and address how this technology is changing the industry.