Manufacturing Matters, or The Internet of Things

Take a moment to sit back and imagine the future. Look 10 years from now, how does the manufacturing industry look? And are you prepared? Ten years from now, the global manufacturing sector will look completely different than it does today. Every day, advanced manufacturing technology is transforming the global competitive landscape at rapid speeds. If we act now to seize manufacturing’s promise, we will not only succeed, but will THRIVE in the 21st century. But those who fail to engage in smart manufacturing will rapidly fall behind.

Smart manufacturing, or the Internet of Things (IoT), marries information, technology and human ingenuity to bring about a rapid revolution in the development and application of manufacturing intelligence to every aspect of business. We recently held a day long seminar in conjunction with Rockwell Automation to explore ways companies can begin or continue their journey towards Smart Manufacturing. In case you weren’t able to attend the event, here is a recap of some of the key points.

Status of Manufacturing in the United States

Manufacturing in the United States is down at 2009 levels. Why you might ask? For some, the term “Made in the USA” doesn’t have the same connotation that it used to and its perceived value isn’t as high as it once was. There is a lot of pressure to improve costs, inventory, yield and delivery time.

Challenges faced in the industry:

  • Financial- revenue, GM, productivity, uptime
  • Customer pressure- this is only going to increase: innovation, flexibility, safe, green, price
  • Regulatory pressures- compliance, taxes
  • Internal pressures- aging equipment, aging workforce.

Companies are bringing manufacturing back to the US, causing the gap to close making China cheaper to manufacture in. But what’s causing this revolution? There is a new emerging middle class. By 2020, one billion new middle class consumers will be adding $8T to consumer spending money. Technology continues to advance, and with 75% of the workforce being Millennials by 2025, there will be mobility in manufacturing.

Convergence of IT and OT

What is Operational Technology (OT)?
OT is the technology hardware on the plant floor: sensors, machines, materials, controls, safety and security.

What is Information Technology (IT)?
IT involves the ERP, financials, HR, logistics, etc. This includes orders, supply network and product design.



The goal with integrating IT and OT is to drive productivity by providing visibility and clarity on the order as it goes through the shop. The key to this is looking at data in real time to make better decisions to improve profitability.

Change and Keep Changing

According to Steve Gansen, Cisco’s Manufacturing Industry Sales Manager, there are NO manufacturing companies…only sales and marketing companies. The key to success is to change and keep changing. The Midwest is a key area for reshoring because you can get closer to your customers. Logistics are a bigger play to drive efficiencies.


IoE transforms data into wisdom. It’s a journey and everyone is at a different place on that path. You’re either a disruption or someone is going to disrupt you. The key is to start small, disrupt in a small way to show results and go from there.

Modernized Automation

The top concerns of manufacturers are:

  • Economy and political influence
  • Recruiting/retaining personnel with proper technical skills
  • Regulations compliance and traceability
  • Product development and innovation/agility for quick change overs
  • Balance throughput and maintenance
  • IoT vs cyber threats- security

smarter machines and equipment with real-time data loop

To help ease these concerns, it’s important to have smarter machines and equipment with real-time data. These machines will help reduce downtime by helping to replace items faster. You must determine your wants and needs and from there, determine if your network and hardware can support these wants/needs. If not, the next step would be to design a strategy to get you there.

Industrial Security Trends:

  • Formerly “good enough” security, now, is better than “perfect” security… never
  • Security ultimately relies, and fails, on the degree to which you are thorough. People don’t like to be thorough, so this will be your biggest hurdle.
  • Your absolute security is only as strong as your weakest link.
  • Concentrate on the known, probable threats.
  • Security is not a static end state, it is an interactive process.

The Connected Enterprise: Power of Information

The challenge today is finding the right data from different sources and getting it back into and understandable format. This includes real time information. It’s also important to note that millennials look at data in a different way, so be sure to formulate the data in a way that will be the most useful for those who need it.


This was just a quick highlight of some of the information presented at our recent Manufacturing Matters event. If you’re interested in learning more or reviewing the presentation, contact your French Gerleman Account Manager.

Automation IIOT Internet of Things IoT Manufacturing Manufacturing Matters Rockwell Automation