GAMS preview: IIoT and the state of manufacturing

In preparation for the 2016 GAMS Conference on Sept. 14 in Chicago, CFE Media asked our panelists to discuss some of the key issues facing manufacturing. This is one in a daily series of issues.


The 2016 Global Automation and Manufacturing Summit (GAMS), presented by CFE Media, will bring together experts from all areas of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to look at not just the current state of IIoT but also at the potential benefits of deployment for the manufacturing industry.

The third GAMS conference takes place Wednesday, Sept. 14, beginning at noon. It is held in conjunction with the Industrial Automation North America (IANA) pavilion at the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show at McCormick Place in Chicago. The event is co-presented by Hannover Fairs USA.

In preparation for the 2016 GAMS Conference, CFE Media asked our panelists to discuss some of the key issues facing manufacturing. This is one in a daily series of issues.

Franz Gruber, CEO of Forcam. Courtesy: ForcamCFE Media: We've been actively talking about the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) for the past two years, and it's been looming on the horizon for years before that. Assess where manufacturing is today in both its understanding of and implementation of IIoT.

Franz Gruber, Forcam: The race for Smart Manufacturing—the Industrial Internet—is internationally in full swing. All companies involved have similar challenges: acceptance by staff, new talent, selection of technology, connecting machines, training of stakeholders, understanding data, and change management processes. Needless to say, the winner in the race is not yet decided.

The first significant driver for the advance of industrial Internet solutions lies in the opportunity to integrate and better manage horizontal and vertical value chains. The digitization and interconnection of products and services (Internet of Things (IoT)) are important drivers to the industrial sector, which is to contribute $14.2 trillion to world output by 2030. Another major driver is newly emerging (and often disruptive) digital business models that offer significant additional value to customers through tailor-made solutions.

These new business models are characterized by a considerable increase of horizontal cooperation across the value chains, as well as the integrated use and analysis of data to fulfill customer requirements. The fourth industrial revolution has begun and is closely tied to clear economic objectives that hold the potential for clearer differentiation in global competition.

Numerous goals can be achieved through the successful use of technology within the industrial supply chain. Among them are lean factors like:

  • Minimization of inventory
  • Cost reduction
  • Improvement of speed to market a product
  • Increased flexibility
  • Potentially less waste
  • Transparency
  • Increase in quality
  • Compliance
  • Reduction of recalls.

The more the companies within a supply chain are able to integrate and coordinate their activities, the more likely they will be to optimize the flow of goods from supplier to customer and react efficiently to changes in demand.

Aurelio Banda, CEO and president, Beckhoff Automation North America. Courtesy: Beckhoff Automation North AmericaAurelio Banda, Beckhoff Automation: I'll start by saying that general awareness of IIoT is quite high in the manufacturing community, while true understanding of IIoT can vary greatly from person to person. Engineers should place an emphasis on learning what hardware and software tools are available today and what specific benefits can be expected from their use in the context of their own applications. This is far more important than memorizing the various "definitions" of what IIoT is and what the different controls vendors have to say about it. Any new technology is measured on how well it solves real-world problems. All that said, we are still in the early adopter phase of IIoT and Industrie 4.0 technologies, but we are also living in the critical time when the leaders in this aspect of industry will be determined. IIoT is not yet a "must have" technology, but it is a technology that will be the momentum for many companies to create significant new revenue streams and process optimization milestones.

ONLINE extra

See additional coverage on IMTS 2016 and GAMS linked below.

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Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

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