Technology Record - Issue 31: Winter 2023

INTERVIEW Crawl, walk, run Nick Bierbrodt of RSM US reveals why manufacturing organisations should break down the IoT implementation process into smaller, more manageable steps The internet of things (IoT) has become a mainstream tool for manufacturing companies wanting to monitor operational efficiency, with 65 per cent of organisations having executed an IoT strategy in 2023, according to Microsoft’s Digital Operations Signals: Industrial IoT Solution Spotlight report. Nick Bierbrodt, director of technology consulting at RSM US, suggests this is because IoT systems enable organisations to capture and analyse the data they need to power new technologies such as digital twins and artificial intelligence. “Industrial and manufacturing companies are looking to build virtual models with digital twin technology or analyse their data with AI to generate valuable insights that can be applied to make operations more efficient, but they need six to 12 months’ worth of data to do this,” says Bierbrodt. IoT devices play a key part in helping organisations to collect this data, but only if they implement it properly. “Most companies have a basic understanding of IoT, mainly using it to count workers, machines, equipment and products in a production line,” says Bierbrodt. “However, this data is often not effectively integrated into their systems and platforms, defeating the purpose of IoT, which is to give machines the ability to communicate and enhance operations. That’s where RSM US comes in; we ask what a company wants to achieve from a data collection point of view and implement the IoT platform in a way that helps them to fulfil that goal.” Bierbrodt advises manufacturers to adopt a ‘crawl, walk, run’ approach to deploying IoT, suggesting they start with small use cases and gradually progress to larger projects. “Use cases within a manufacturing environment centre around automating basic tasks like installing sensors in machines to monitor temperature rises,” he explains. “Businesses can take that production information and start pushing it back into their purchasing system. This allows machines to report in real time and that’s the very start of what IoT can do.” To transition from the crawling to walking phase, manufacturers must analyse their data. For example, they can use real-time dashboards to follow activity on BY ALICE CHAMBERS “ Scaling IoT devices and selecting the right sensors are crucial for manufacturers” 116