The following insights were discussed at the IoT build Business Conference in London on November 15th on a panel with ThingTrax Co-Founders Imran Shafqat and Aman Gupta.
CHALLENGES FACED BY MANUFACTURERS Many small to medium scale manufacturers, which have grown organically in the past years, have acquired their machines from various vendors and at different times. Thus, these manufacturers are struggling to get their machines to talk to the Cloud in order to extract internal machine data and form actionable insights. ThingTrax first-hand observed that this problem was a significant issue at the recent K Conference they attended in Dusseldorf. The K Conference is one of the largest exhibitions for plastics and rubber. At this conference, it became evident to co-founders Imran and Aman that a majority of the small to medium-sized manufacturers in the Plastics Industry have not yet developed centralised connected manufacturing systems. This means that these manufacturers, and many others in the same situation, are currently struggling to drive their businesses forward and maintain a competitive edge as they cannot track manufacturing processes and parameters key to operational efficiency.
THE INDUSTRY 4.0 HYPE
Industries and manufacturers are more than ever looking to implement IoT solutions to effectively track and monitor their machines and factory operations. Several international studies and surveys support this notion of the growing demand for IoT solutions in factories. Research by Cisco suggests that 92% of factories with machines are not network-connected; yet, over 60% of plant managers and business line executives who were surveyed have stated that they were planning to connect through IoT solutions by 2020. For Industry 4.0 to be successful, IoT must be a big enabler. “The industry needs to see a lot of disruptive Industrial IoT companies coming up and providing low CAPEX solutions,” co-founder Aman Gupta passionately states. Although big manufacturers, for example, those in Germany, can currently afford smart factory solutions, for Industry 4.0 to truly penetrate the market, small and medium-scale manufacturers out in Asia and the Middle East, for instance, need the low-cost disruptive solutions.
MAKING SOLUTIONS ACCESSIBLE TO ALL
Predictive maintenance has been present for the past 15 years; however, solutions to enable predictive maintenance are still inaccessible to a significant portion of the market, which is comprised of small to medium-sized manufacturers. ThingTrax offers much cheaper solutions that are accessible to these smaller manufacturers. One of their secrets to doing this is to “make the devices dumb,” as Imran and Aman half-joke. Their goal is to make the devices do as little processing as possible and instead send the captured data directly to the Cloud. This allows ThingTrax to pursue a subscription-based business model that is a low-cost and low-CAPEX option, making it accessible to the big portion of the market.
THE THINGTRAX SOLUTIONS
During the panel, Aman and Imran explained in parallel the three solutions offered by ThingTrax to make factories smart by overcoming the aforementioned challenges faced by manufacturers. The ThingTrax solutions track machines, motors, and operators. As the power of computing gets cheaper, ThingTrax leverages this technology power to talk to existing machines in factories to build contextual information and thus provide actionable insights to manufacturers.