Role of AI, Big Data Analytics, and IIOT in Manufacturing

In this thought-provoking article in IndustryWeek, Larry Fast discusses the potential impact of new capabilities like Big Data Analytics, AI, and IIOT in manufacturing.  There are several points he made that I found interesting.  He highlights how IIOT in manufacturing is becoming more prevalent:

  • 79% of companies have started an IoT initiative.
  • 44% of manufacturers have a defined digital strategy.

Larry discusses some of the barriers preventing manufacturers from gaining the full benefit from Big Data, AI and IIOT, highlighting ERP systems as an issue:

“Corporations are still spending untold millions of dollars buying “new” ERP systems that still rely mostly on traditional thinking and reporting. Further, report formatting, because of the same outdated thinking, isn’t structured in a way to get actionable, real-time reporting. Why can’t the ERP system simply be linked to the machine’s PLC and provide data in real time? Or must we always have a secondary system, often not integrated with anything else, to have what shop floor people need to more effectively manage the business minute by minute, hour by hour?

ERP programs must be redesigned and cleaned up in concert with these new access systems. In fact, one might wonder why access programs would even be required if the ERP systems provided the same capability? In any case, until ERP programs smash long-standing paradigms and catch up with state-of-the-art manufacturing needs, they will continue to represent a formidable constraint to achieving the full impact of the improvement potential that is now obviously possible.”

He also makes an important note here about the need to start the high level conversations about IIOT in manufacturing:

But now is the time for all C-Suite leaders to follow these technologies carefully, partner up with thought leaders in this area, and strategize how to be among the companies who get up to speed early and commit to the new technology — in fact, even help develop it.

The topics of Big Data, AI, and IIOT in manufacturing are discussed frequently at Automation NTH as we make plans to help our customers adopt these capabilities.  To get this conversation started for your company, please contact Larry Carr at

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