Category Archives: Manufacturing

10 Best Automotive Technologies of 2019

By KBB.com Editors | January 9, 2019 1:14 PM – Kelley Blue Book

New car buyers would do well to spend less time looking under the hood and more examining all the technology in the car. Of course, the powertrain still matters, but more important is how the driver and vehicle occupants interact with today’s increasingly sophisticated automobiles. That’s why we’ve come up with our 10 Best Automotive Technologies of 2019.

These are the things to look for when buying a new car this year. You may not find them all useful, but regardless of price point it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a vehicle that has most of them. If you want to see the best of the best, find out which two all-new cars took home our 2019 Best Auto Tech Awards.

1. Connected Mobile Apps

It’s no exaggeration to say that the smartphone has changed everything, including how we interact with our cars. Most carmakers offer some sort of connected smartphone app, but some are better than others. Look for one that lets you remotely lock and unlock the doors, check the status of things like fuel and tire pressure, and even remotely start the car to warm things up on a cold winter’s morning.

Make sure to ask if there is a monthly or yearly subscription fee for the service, as it can vary from carmaker to carmaker.

2. Teen Driver Technology

Handing over the keys to your teenager can be a nerve-wracking experience, but some clever new tech might ease your mind a little bit. Several cars have some type of teen driver limitations built in that can notify you if the car is driven over a certain speed, disable the stereo if seatbelts aren’t used, and even keep the stereo from being turned up past 7 — never mind full blast!

Chevrolet’s Teen Driver feature also offers a Report Card that will tell parents if safety systems like ABS or forward collision alert have been triggered while Junior was behind the wheel.

3. Stolen Vehicle Tracking Software

Experts estimate that more than 750,000 motor vehicles will be stolen in 2019. While that number sounds alarming, nearly 46 percent of those vehicles will be recovered — and that number continues to improve. Much of the credit goes to innovative technology that automakers are building into their vehicles, such as the ability for the stolen car or truck to tell law enforcement when it is being held.

The technology is bundled into the vehicle’s assistance and security systems, such as BMW’s Connected Drive or GM’s OnStar. While those advertised features allow effortless diagnostics, concierge, and post-crash notification for summoning rescue services, they may also be used by law enforcement to pinpoint the exact location of a vehicle that is no longer in the owner’s possession. Criminals beware.

4. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

Though they are loath to admit it, many manufacturer infotainment systems — the do-it-all screens that control stereo, navigation, and climate control — aren’t very user-friendly. That’s why we like Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto. Plug in your smartphone and it takes over that big screen, replacing it with something that looks a lot more familiar and easy to use.

You’ll get a simplified control scheme to access your music, maps, and your phone’s built-in voice-control features while avoiding the unnecessarily complicated system that comes with the car. Basically every manufacturer has promised support for at least one or both Apple and Google’s systems, but not all trim levels will support them. Make sure to verify your car has the right options, and that it matches your mobile devices.

5. Adaptive Cruise Control

Commuting is no fun. But advanced driver assist systems like adaptive cruise control can take a lot of the stress out of the experience. By using an array of sensors built into the car, adaptive cruise control can match the speed of the car in front of you, meaning you don’t need to constantly hit the gas and brake in highway traffic.

Some systems even allow the car to be brought to a complete halt and then resume automatically, making stop-and-go traffic considerably less frustrating. It might make you uneasy handing over some amount of control to the car, but we promise: use it once, and you’ll never want to go back.

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6. Exit Warning to Protect Cyclists

People riding bicycles in congested urban areas are often as concerned with parked vehicles as they are with the vehicles on the road — an unexpected opening car door spells doom for cyclists and injury for hapless passengers. Automakers are beginning to address this common danger with rear-looking sensors that detect approaching bicycles and traffic.

The systems are engineered to work for several minutes after the engine has been turned off. If the sensors see an approaching bicyclist or close vehicle, they alert the passenger with a series of bright lights. If the warning is ignored, the most advanced systems will physically lock the door to prevent it from being swung open into the path of the approaching object.

7. Rear Cross-Traffic Alert

Parking lots are extremely common sites for low-speed — but pricey — car crashes. Backing out of a parking spot, even with a rearview backup camera, can be a perilous exercise. That’s why rear-cross traffic alert is so useful.

Thanks to sensors built into the rear of the car, the system can alert you to approaching vehicles, shopping carts, or pedestrians who might wander behind your car without you noticing. Loud beeps are standard with these systems, but some cars can even automatically brake before a collision occurs.

8. Lane Departure Warning

Distracted driving happens. Whether it’s a quick glance at the stereo to change the channel or a child urgently asking for your attention, sometimes we pay a little less attention to the road than we should.

Lane departure warning systems use cameras to determine if a car has drifted across a marked lane line, giving a visual or audible notification (or even a vibration through the seat or steering wheel) that you’ve moved too far out of your lane. The system turns itself off when you use a directional, so there’s no fear of accidental engagement.

More advanced tech, sometimes called Lane Keeping Assist, can even help nudge you back into the proper lane, which can be a literal life-saver if you were heading into opposing traffic.

9. Automatic Emergency Braking

Automatic Emergency Braking or AEB uses a variety of sensors to determine if a forward collision crash is imminent and automatically applies the brakes to diminish the severity or avoid a crash entirely.

The auto industry agreed to make AEB standard in cars by 2022, but many vehicles have it available today. The systems are extremely good, though you absolutely shouldn’t rely on it to stop you — it’s meant as a last resort for when the driver isn’t paying attention, and it’s extremely alarming when the system does engage. While Apple CarPlay and smartphone apps are important, this one could save your life, so it’s worth making this one a high priority on your shopping list.

10. 360-Degree Camera

Insurance claims from low-speed crashes are some of the most common in the industry. Usually occurring during parking, a 360-degree camera system can make life a lot easier for folks who might not realize just how big that new SUV is.

By combining cameras on every side of the car with some clever computing power, your car’s display can show a virtual top-down view of your surroundings. It can show the sides of your garage, whether you’re lined up in the parking spot at the grocery store, or provide invaluable assistance while parallel parking.

The systems are getting cheaper and cheaper, and are available on even moderately priced cars these days. If you’re in the market for a small hatchback, you might not need this one as much — but a big SUV? You could find it invaluable.

 

Americans Think Apple Leads in 5G (Spoiler: It Doesn’t)

Android phone makers will have a hard time winning iPhone buyers over with their new 5G phones, according to a new survey.
 
American consumers think Apple is the leading phone vendor when it comes to 5G, by a crushing margin over Samsung. That’s a little shocking, because most observers believe Apple is going to introduce 5G phones a full year later than Android phone vendors.

The result from an exclusive PCMag survey of 2,500 US consumers shows Apple’s unstoppable brand power in the US. Even as Apple sales have cratered in China, the company’s reputation appears to be intact in its home market. Only 11 percent of iPhone owners surveyed said they would switch away from the iPhone for 5G.

Samsung is anticipated to be the first into the US market with a 5G phone when it announces the 5G version of its Galaxy S10 in late February. It got the No. 2 spot as to which company will lead in 5G in the survey. The No. 3 position went to Google, whose Pixel phones are currently exclusive to Verizon.

Apple’s anticipated delay in 5G comes from a few sources. Right now, Qualcomm has the only US-compatible 5G modem chips, and Apple is at war with Qualcomm. Apple has switched its modem provider to Intel, which has said it won’t have 5G modems before the end of the year.

But delaying on new wireless networks hasn’t hurt Apple in the past. The first iPhone was 2G in a 3G era, and Apple came to 4G two years later than many other manufacturers. Apple tends to like to wait for networks to become more fully rolled out before jumping on board, so iPhone users can have a consistent experience wherever they live.

 
 

3 Employment Screening Trends to Know Before You Hire in 2019

Roy Maurer
By Roy Maurer, Online Manager/Editor, Talent Acquisition – SHRM Online
January 23, 2019

This is the first article in a two-part series. The next installment will examine how employers can ensure data security in the screening process and what to expect with forthcoming artificial intelligence technology.

Employers are ramping up their use of social media screening and real-time employee monitoring in 2019. And the demand for workers in a tight labor market will push more companies to consider applicants they may have once ignored: those with criminal records.

[SHRM resource page: Background Checks]

Social Media Checks

Employers have shown increasing interest in screening candidates’ online presence.

In 2019, more background-check providers will offer online and social media searches as part of their suite of products, but employers must ensure that these searches protect candidate privacy and don’t run afoul of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) or standards set by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

“Social media screening presents opportunities for recruiters to find candidates and to reduce risk, but at the same time, these searches can create a legal minefield of potential liability,” said Les Rosen, founder and CEO of Employment Screening Resources, a background-screening firm in Novato, Calif.

Interest in social media screening has grown significantly over the last few years, said Bianca Lager, the president of Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Social Intelligence Corp., a leading provider of social media screening reports. “We now see almost daily news stories of someone getting into trouble with their employer over what they’ve written online,” she said. “Hiring companies know they can’t get away with ignoring social media as part of the background-screening process any longer, but the DIY approach is incredibly troubling for candidates in terms of privacy, accuracy and discrimination.”

If HR professionals are conducting their own online searches on job candidates, they need to stop, said Montserrat Miller, an attorney with Arnall Golden Gregory, based in Atlanta. “The potential for a discrimination claim far outweighs the cost of adding a social media screening option from a vendor.”

Rosen said that employers should be wary of discovering too much information—or “TMI”—on social media. ” ‘TMI’ means by looking at [an applicant’s] social media site or perhaps a photo or something that they have blogged about, you are going to learn all sorts of things as an employer you don’t want to know and [that] legally cannot be the basis of a decision,” he said. Job applicants can sue employers for discrimination if they believe they were not hired due to protected characteristics covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, including race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

“Even the appearance of a decision not to hire someone based on a negative impression related to race, gender, religion, or other protected classes could subject [employers] to a discrimination lawsuit,” said Christine Cunneen, CEO of Providence, R.I.-based background-check company Hire Image.

Experts agree that if employers decide to screen an applicant through social media, the best way to reduce legal risk is by having a third-party vendor perform the search instead of doing it in-house. Background-check providers that perform social media screening must comply with the FCRA and produce accurate reports scrubbed of protected characteristics.

“Social media reports won’t show whether or not someone is Muslim or gay or a military veteran, to protect the employer from a discrimination claim,” Miller said. “They will only provide instances of actionable, offensive information, for example relating to criminal activity, violent behavior or making racist comments.”

Cunneen added that employers need to be careful not to violate candidate privacy. Social media screens should be drawn only from user-generated, publicly available information and not from third-party content or password-protected sites. “If the applicant’s social media settings are set to public, that information is open for anyone, including potential future employers, to review,” she said. “However, if their profile is set to private, the employer cannot try to bypass those settings without risking exposure to potential liability down the road.”

Continuous Monitoring

New technology lets companies go beyond pre-employment checks and rescreens to real-time monitoring of current employees for warning signs of illegal or other concerning behavior.

“Employee monitoring is one of the biggest trends I’m seeing,” said Jason Morris, an employment screening consultant and industry expert with Morris Group Consulting in the Cleveland area.

“Justifiably, employers will always want to know who is working for them—not just [during] hiring but throughout their employment relationship,” Cunneen said. “A current employee can engage in illegal behavior as much now as he or she could have before they were an employee.”

Uber announced plans last year for ongoing monitoring of arrest and conviction data on their drivers. “These tools have been around for a while, but end users are finally seeing the benefits, and the data is getting better,” Morris said.

Uber teamed with San Francisco-based screening firm Checkr to get continuous updates about drivers’ records, including new criminal violations and license suspensions. The technology will notify Uber, for example, when a driver is charged with driving under the influence.

“It is a subscription that listens to a candidate’s data over time, looking for and identifying changes in their background to mitigate risk for companies,” said Tomas Barreto, vice president of product and engineering at Checkr. If new information triggers a full background check, the worker is also notified, he said.

“While there are some industries whose regulations have mandated continuous or some form of periodic screening, such as health care, we are seeing more industries embrace the idea,” said Melissa Sorenson, executive director of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners. “Like any background-screening program, it’s important for employers to ensure they follow both federal and state law related to background screening—including following disclosure and authorization requirements before conducting a background check, as well as adverse action processes in the event that the results of the background check lead the employer to consider not hiring, promoting or retaining the individual.”

Hiring People with Criminal Records

Research shows a majority of HR professionals find little difference in quality of hire between applicants with and without a criminal record.

“The fact that employers cannot find workers due to the current labor shortage has caused them to turn to an untapped and underutilized source of labor: ex-offenders and [former] inmates from the approximately 20 million Americans who have been convicted of a felony,” Rosen said.

The Prison Policy Initiative calculated the ex-offender unemployment rate to be 27 percent, higher than the total U.S. unemployment rate at any time, including during the Great Depression.

Alonzo Martinez, associate counsel for compliance at background-screening company HireRight, said that with the number of unfilled positions now exceeding the labor pool, employers are recognizing the potential in this previously untapped group of candidates.

“While a criminal record should never be an automatic deal breaker—especially for candidates who have misdemeanors on their records, have served their time or have been rehabilitated—in the current market, employers are increasingly considering candidates with criminal records and redefining policies and requirements to lower some of the barriers to employment that ex-offenders face,” he said.

“Companies recognize that hiring from this population is the right thing to do, but it’s also good business,” said Richard Bronson, the founder and CEO of 70MillionJobs, the first for-profit job board specifically for job seekers with criminal records.

“Companies are motivated by the bottom line, and they recognize that unfilled jobs are costly. Every single company I talk to says they are facing a staffing shortage or they have trouble retaining their workers, particularly at the lower end of the wage scale. Perhaps they would not have been eager to consider this population before, but I think they generally recognize that they can ill afford to ignore any large pool of talent out there, and this is arguably one of the largest. One in three adults have a record of some kind.”

The industries most hospitable to people with criminal records have been call centers, construction, health care, manufacturing, retail, and transportation and warehousing. “The technology sector has been woefully reticent to take action,” Bronson said. “They talk a good game but don’t deliver when it comes to actually hiring.”

Martinez said HR must be cognizant of the challenges involved with screening the ex-offender population, such as a longer turnaround time to ensure a complete assessment.

“Companies should continue to perform thorough background checks and conduct individualized assessments of candidates with criminal history, per EEOC guidance,” he said. “It would also benefit companies to review their hiring requirements to determine the types and depth of screening that is necessary for each job position. This can reduce the volume of acceptable hires that are unnecessarily flagged for additional review for reasons that are not related to the role’s responsibilities.”

Disrupting the Outsourcing Model

Steve Maylish and Shannon White, Fusion Biotec – 01.31.19
Contributors to MPO Columns

The rise and relative success of companies dealing in cloud-based systems has revolutionized how we handle data. This is prompting a shift away from traditional software, hardware, and legacy systems, and enabling companies in new and unexpected ways. As cloud-based data systems rise to meet the needs of the modern world, will legacy systems eventually become obsolete? How will this change outsourcing?

In last June’s MPO 15-year anniversary issue, we looked at medical device outsourcing changes over the last 15 years. The industry changes cited were mostly based on OEM attitudes, improved quality and standards, increased competencies, and a growing willingness to outsource. Now we are in the midst of a new paradigm shift. Examples of this are everywhere: Netflix versus Blockbuster, Amazon versus retail, AirBnB versus hotels, and Uber versus taxis—just to name a few. Since the advent of cloud computing, disruption has accelerated. As traditional business models change, will medical device outsourcing experience disruption?

There are great advantages and disadvantages associated with cloud computing and software as a service (SaaS)—some of them more real than others. SaaS delivered via the cloud often doesn’t require users to load, maintain, update, migrate, partition, archive, audit, backup, or license software. It often costs less, reduces the need for IT services and hardware, and is easier to use. But what about the downside? Security, always-on availability, performance at scale, enterprise compliance, and data integrity are important for cloud services. These features are essential for the cloud business model.

First let me share a success story: Salesforce, which launched in 1999. It initially offered a simple, low-cost, cloud-based system to service small and medium-sized companies, but now have disrupted the customer relationship management (CRM) industry. Eventually, Saleforce’s CRM software outsold IBM, Oracle, SAP, and Microsoft. By building a cloud-based system and offering SaaS, users can collect, categorize, analyze, and distribute information on product sales, customer purchases, and sales staff performance. The information can be shared across sales departments, supply chain, management, and executive teams. It can be used on smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops. Cloud computing provides shared infrastructure and instant scalability. Salesforce provides continuous improvement for their services.

According to “disruptive innovation” theorist Clayton Christensen, “Disruption describes a process whereby a smaller company with fewer resources is able to successfully challenge established incumbent businesses.” This is certainly true of companies like Netflix or Uber. In fact, a number of industries have been disrupted by SaaS and cloud computing: HR services, payroll services, booking systems, project management, IT, accounting, CRM, software, and eventually medical product outsourcing.

For a healthcare provider like Kaiser Permanente, big data can be complicated and an impediment to change. Sam Gambarin, director of the Cloud Services group at Kaiser Permanente, said, “We wanted to provide our [software] developers with a standardized central platform and shorter time to market. Also, we wanted to optimize our existing systems of records.” To achieve this, Kaiser uses a hybrid cloud solution: an internal data center and external cloud provider with IBM Cloud, plus multiple SaaS providers.

Providence St. Joseph’s Health system uses the cloud-based electronic health record from Epic because its interoperability enables them to practice better medicine, receive appropriate reimbursements, and improve patient experience. For decades, there were failed startups in the healthcare interoperability space. Migrating electronic medical record management to the cloud now provides a viable solution.

While cloud migration is happening at large healthcare providers, disruption is more likely to come from startup companies like Bright Health, Devoted Health, Clover Health, and Oscar Health—Alphabet’s $1B+ investment. These “payvidors” offer patient-centric care designed to support and monitor patients by using data science to cut costs and promote preventative care. Some work with prescription services. Others use genomic data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to promote health. Some offer in-home primary care programs and house calls.

On the medical product outsourcing side, consider contract engineering. Before the cloud, engineers and hobbyists with small budgets couldn’t afford most professional engineering design software like SolidWorks or Cadence. Now, a number of SaaS companies like Onshape or CircuitMaker offer inexpensive or free software that allows designers to share their work and build on others’ work, decreasing time and reducing risk. The continuously growing database eliminates the need for footprint design for common parts. This open-source approach has helped the maker community flourish in recent years, building on the efforts of companies like Raspberry Pi and Arduino to make powerful hardware building blocks widely available.

For mechanical design, Onshape is a SaaS model created by former designers of Solidworks, a legacy software package. Unlike Solidworks though, Onshape updates itself silently every two weeks and is billed per engineer at a low monthly fee. It holds major advantages over its predecessor with its ability to be used in real time by an entire design team located anywhere with a network connection. Import and export capability allows Onshape to ease the transition from legacy systems.

Disruption will happen in the industry as free, open-source development software is introduced to hobbyists and later works its way through commercial businesses. With cloud and SaaS, multiple people can view a file at once, reducing the amount of time spent on editing. Users can share the document with a large number of people through their browsers, inviting them to view and edit the document in real-time. Furthermore, any edits to the documents are saved automatically as the author types, which prevents accidental loss of data.

Concerns about data integrity during the switch to cloud-based systems are natural and bound to arise. Questions regarding security, accessibility, and cost are among the most asked. Data safety is one of the most prevalent concerns and why most cloud service providers make security their top priority. Cloud infrastructure is constantly monitored, while controlled access to data and frequent auditing reduce the risk of human error and flaws in security protocols.

One company facilitating migration to the cloud is Corent, whose SurPaaS platform analyzes and migrates software applications to the cloud and can even rapidly transform the software application to a SaaS model. Scott Chate, vice president partner and market development at Corent Technology, predicts, “The ongoing global transition to the cloud-based SaaS model is going to affect every industry.”

In a few respects, however, cloud fails to meet the precedent set by its legacy predecessors. Cloud software is often not as refined as older legacy software. Due to this, experienced legacy users often balk at using the new software. Furthermore, cloud systems are often heavily dependent on network reliability and bandwidth. Any outage can leave companies stranded without access to data. Most drawbacks to cloud programs, however, are mitigated by their higher processing power (provided from running on a server) and ability to efficiently update.

It was easier for our company to start in the cloud and incorporate SaaS into the business model. The cloud offers us many advantages. We can securely work from anywhere, using any computer or mobile device. We can leverage previous design work. Reliability is extremely high because cloud providers can invest in infrastructure. Data is stored in a centralized facility with stronger security measures than we could provide on our own, and files can be downloaded when needed. It’s simple to add, remove, or change software and users. Total cost is lower because we require less physical infrastructure and support staff. Our customers’ experiences have changed the way we connect and collaborate, how we do business and, by default, how we innovate. Ultimately, we are more efficient.

Engineering service providers launching new companies today can begin in the cloud, requiring less physical infrastructure and support staff. However, the industry is just beginning to shift from legacy software to SaaS, which won’t be easy for established medical device companies. Eventually, it will transform contract engineering and contract manufacturing services as they migrate to smart manufacturing. Cloud computing is so disruptive because it pressures entrenched firms to modify their business model, often involving changes to business strategy, revenue models, sales channels, and technology.

Jeff Hawkins, president and CEO of Truvian Sciences, reveals, “When Truvian decided to leverage engineering partnerships, we didn’t want to outsource in a classic sense but rather find partners that could operate as an extension of our team. In order for that to be successful, you need a partner with the right company culture and the right tools to facilitate real time collaboration, regardless of where the teams are physically located. New technologies are allowing us to collaborate digitally with our partners on everything from engineering designs using Onshape, to project planning using Smartsheets and general project file sharing using tools like DropBox or Box. These tools make it possible for anyone without training to participate in the process from any location with the [use] of software viewers.”

Technology is evolving faster than ever and business models are changing. The cloud is more secure, cost-effective, and accessible than alternatives, and it’s getting more powerful every year. There are now millions of students using the cloud exclusively. This upcoming generation lives without many past computer constraints.

Like the education system and numerous other industries, the cloud is beginning to disrupt medical device outsourcing. Entrenched companies with legacy systems currently have the high ground, but the cloud is changing everything. With today’s services, remote teams can connect instantly. Cloud services allow for SaaS usability without downloads or installs. Cloud providers make instant scalability possible. Cloud computing and SaaS provide hosting, backup, and security running on various operating systems and mobile apps. If you’ve ever been frustrated with IT requests, firewalls, or internet controls, there’s good news—a solution is on its way!


Steve Maylish has been part of the medical device community for more than 30 years. He is currently chief commercial officer for Fusion Biotec, an Orange, Calif.-based contract engineering firm that brings together art, science, and engineering to create medical devices. Early in his career, Maylish held positions at Fortune 100 corporations such as Johnson & Johnson, Shiley, Sorin Group, Baxter Healthcare, and Edwards Lifesciences.

Shannon White is an engineering student, SaaS user, and intern at Fusion Biotec.

27 Military technologies that changed civilian life

Adrian Willings – Contributing Editor for Pocket-lint | 2 February 2018

The old saying goes that necessity is the mother of invention and when countries go to war, it’s the one with the best technology who’s most likely to win. Survival of a nation and victory can depend on the technology their military uses in combat.

Over the years before and after the invention of Nuclear weapons and the race towards the semi-peace that comes with mutually assured destruction, nations have created incredible technologies all in the name of war. These technologies later found their way into civilian life and have improved the world as a whole.

War might be a necessary evil in some cases, but the research and development that comes along with it has improved our lives in a number of surprising ways over the decades.

We’ve been through the history books to collate useful tech that started off life on the battlefield but we now take for granted in our everyday lives.

ARPANET; Coolcaesar [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 15

The internet

The World Wide Web that we know and love originally started life back in 1977 in the form of its forefather the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET). This network technology, along with TCP/IP became the technical foundation of the Internet as we know it today.

Before this time, development of computer technologies were advancing to a point where in the 1950s a concept was required for a wide area network to connect computers in science labs. It was the Cold War though that led to the need for ARPANET and the beginning of the modern internet.

About the image – Left, a 1977 diagram showing the structure of the ARPANET network. Right: Berners-Lee’s first-ever web server at CERN.

USAF; Nachoman-au [CC-BY-SA-3.0] via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 16

GPS

After World War II and the space race that came shortly afterwards, it wasn’t long before mankind started sending satellites into the atmosphere. In the 1990s, some of these satellites would be used for a space-based radio navigation system that was originally owned and operated by the United States government.

This system was perfect for keeping soldiers safe on the battlefield but also for identifying targets, improving mapping, tracking plane trajectories and more. As the technology expanded and improved it has moved into the civilian world too.

Now we’re used to having GPS in our everyday lives – including navigation in our pocket thanks to the invention of GPS capable smartphones.

About the image – An artist’s impression of the Navstar-2F satellite and a modern-day maritime GPS receiver.

Evan-Amos; NASA/Eugene A. Cernan via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 17

Duct Tape

The Duct Tape we know today comes in a variety of forms of strong, durable and highly adhesive tape that’s multipurpose and can be used for a number of day-to-day applications. The original Duct Tape was invented as a necessity of war. During World War II, an adhesive tape was invented that was made from a rubber-based adhesive applied to a durable duck cloth backing.

This tape was capable of resisting water and dirt and was strong enough to be adapted for a number of uses including repairing military equipment, vehicles and weapons. The idea originally came from the thought that seals on ammo boxes would cost soldiers precious time on the battlefield that might also cost them their lives and something new was needed.

The resulting product has improved over the years, so much so that Duct Tape has built up a name for reliability and durability and was even used by NASA during space flight. You’ve probably got some in your house too.

About the image – Duct tape can be used to repair virtually anything as demonstrated in this 1972 Apollo 17 mission shot.

Bukvoed [CC BY 2.5] (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 18

Drones

Nowadays drones are such a common sight that regulating them has become a headache for governments and there are all sorts of consumer drones available whether flying for fun or for professional photography and videography.

The humble drone began life as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). These pilotless air vehicles were remotely controlled to survey battlefields or go on missions deemed too “dull, dirty or dangerous” for human beings. The idea for drones started well over a Century ago when Austria sent unmanned bomb-filled balloons to blow up Venice in 1849. Technology has progressed a lot since then. Nazi Germany pushed the technology forward during WWII with a number of UAVs aimed at dealing out death, but the US Military is perhaps most well-known for its drone use in more recent years.

Since the 1990s, UAVs have been used to launch Predator and Hellfire missiles to attack ground targets during a range of conflicts. It is now thought that over 50 countries have employed military drones in one form or another since 2013. Now the skies are full of drones, many with cameras for capturing leisure activities.

About the image – Israel’s Tadiran Mastiff drone is seen by many military historians as the world’s first modern military drone. 

NOAA’s National Weather Service; Bidgee [CC BY 3.0] via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 19

Weather Radar

Radar is another technology we take for granted in everyday life. It’s also another one that began its inception in the 1800s when German physicists discovered that radio waves could be reflected from solid objects. This knowledge was later used during WWII when Watson-Watt made advancements in the technology that allowed Allied forces to use radar for air defence during the Battle of Britain and beyond.

During World War II, the people operating the radar machines discovered that weather could hinder the readouts and cause echoes on the machines. As radar evolved the technology developed to allow scientists to study the data then detect and decipher the weather. This allowed for a prediction of weather including rain, snow, hail and more.

Modern weather radar is a lot more accurate and helps in the prediction of weather for the days and weeks ahead.

About the image – Left, Hurricane Abby approaching the coast of British Honduras in July 1960. Right the Bureau of Meteorology Berrimah radar, in Australia’s Northern Territory.

Acroterion [CC BY-SA 3.0]; Pamperchu [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 20

Microwave ovens

The radar technology developed during World War II was later adapted for different uses. One of these included the production of technology capable of creating electromagnetic waves on a tiny scale – hence “microwave”. That technology could be used to rapidly heat and cook food by passing microwave radiation through it. This radiation causes the molecules in food to vibrate and heat quickly.

The original range of microwave ovens were named Radarange and sold in 1946. They were too large and expensive for most consumers. It wasn’t until 1967 that they started to become commonplace in commercial and residential kitchens across the world.

About the image – Original Raytheon Radar Range oven on the NS Savannah in Baltimore. Right: a domestic 1971 radar range.

NASA; Naval Intelligence Support Center, via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 21

Digital cameras

Digital camera technology originally started life in early spy satellites where they were used to capture high-resolution aerial images of enemy installations. The technology progressed in the military sphere, especially during the Cold War and in the 1970s the first self-contained digital camera was created. This early technology would take years to progress into the DSLRs we use today, now digital photography is everywhere, even in our pocket.

About the image – Left, the design of the KH-11 was believed to be based on that of the Hubble Space Telescope (pictured here in 1985). Right: A leaked digital image of the Nikolaiev 444 shipyard in the Black Sea taken by KH-11.

The National Archives; Via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 22

Computers

The original technology for computers was a lot more archaic than it is today. The original computers used punch cards and mechanical looms to solve problems. The technology improved at greater speed during World War II though, when an electronic digital programmable computer named Colossus was invented to help decipher messages sent by the Nazi encryption machines.

These computers were a small part of helping the Allies win the war and kick-started the age of the modern digital computer. In the decades that followed, technology has vastly improved and shrunk greatly, with computers even fitting in our pocket.

About the image – Left, Colossus in action at Bletchley Park in 1943. Right, The American ENIAC in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the Ballistic Research Laboratory in 1947.

British Government; Gaius Cornelius, via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 23

Jet engines

Inventor Frank Whittle was working on a design for a jet engine during the late 1920s and filed an official patent in 1930. But it wasn’t until the later years of World War II that jet engine technology would advance in leaps and bounds.

In 1944 the world’s first jet-fighter aircraft took to the skies in the form of the Messerschmitt Me 262. Luckily for the Allies, production was limited due to the shortage of supplies and materials and this invention wouldn’t help Nazi Germany win the war.

In the years that followed, jet engine technology continued to improve and is now a common staple of planes in the skies above us.

About the image – Left, Frank Whittle at the Ministry of Aircraft Production ion 1943. Right, Whittle’s W-2 jet engine, used to power the Gloster E.28/39, the first British aircraft to fly with a turbojet engine.

Alfred T. Palmer, via Wikimedia Commons; Courtesy of United States Rubber CompanyMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 24

Synthetic rubber tyres

Historically, vehicle tyres were manufactured using natural rubber with suppliers from Southeast Asia. During World War II when Japan occupied that region supplies were unavailable to Allied forces and they were forced to adapt. Industrial manufacture of synthetic rubber tyres was therefore required to counter the problem.

Synthetic rubber is now used for all sorts of applications but continues to be used in the tyre industry.

About the image – This sheet of synthetic rubber coming off the rolling mill at the plant is now ready for drying, B.F. Goodrich Co., Akron, Ohio in 1941. On the right, a 1944 United States Rubber Company advert for Fighting Tires.

Courtesy of the Archives of the city of Kingsport; Super Glue Corp.Military technologies that changed civilian life image 25

Superglue

During WWII scientists were employed to find a material suitable for creating clear plastic gun sights for weapons. During that process, these researchers made an accidental discovery of a substance that would stick to everything it came in contact with and Superglue was born.

It was rejected for military use, but was later sold commercially in 1958 and famously used to suspend a car from a crane to demonstrate its adhesive capabilities.

About the image – The now famous 1957 demonstration of the strength of Eastman 910 adhesive which gave to the rise to the modern day hanging-car logo on the tube of super-glue.

U.S. Army Signal Corps; Christopher Ziemnowicz, via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 26

The Jeep

The iconic Willys Jeep is an instantly recognisable vehicle with a distinct shape. The Jeep was a multi-purpose and fully capable four-wheel drive vehicle that was designed to be used in all theatres of combat during the second world war. It was the primary vehicle of the United States Military and its WWII Allies and continued in popularity in the years of peace.

About the image – A U.S. Army Willys MA jeep is put through its paces in 1942 and on the right an open-topped V6 CJ-5 in 2008.

Jpbarbier Jean-Paul Barbier [CC BY-SA 3.0]; Paul Mashburn [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 27

Canned food

Keeping troops fed, supplied with ammunition and with ready access to medication is an essential part of successful warfare. Starving soldiers are not effective soldiers. The idea of food that could last longer and go further is not a new concept. In around 1810, the French government offered a large cash reward to anyone who could come up with a cheap way to preserve large amounts of food. One investor discovered that food cooked inside a jar did not spoil unless the seals leaked and so sealed food containers were born. These were ideal for supplying troops – though somewhat cumbersome.

In later years, canned foods took over. During WWI soldiers generally survived on rations of low-quality canned foodstuffs including corned beef, canned sausages, pork and beans and the like. Production of canned food allowed commanders to transport great quantities of food for troops to survive on.

Canned foods made their way in the civilian markets and became a staple of grocery store and supermarket shelves for years to come.

About the image – A Napoleonic era Appert canning Jar is pictured next to a 1966 shot of U.S. Airman’s C-rations

Wikimedia Commons; Science Museum London / Science and Society Picture Library [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 28

Penicillin

During World War I Alexander Fleming served as a captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps during which time he witnessed many deaths of soldiers from sepsis resulting from infected wounds. The Antiseptics of the time were not effective and actually did more harm than good, especially with deep wounds.

In later years Fleming discovered a type of mould that was releasing a substance that was inhibiting bacterial growth. That substance was later named penicillin and was mass-produced in the years that followed, successfully treating injured soldiers during WWII.

About the image – Alexander Fleming, who first discovered the mould Penicillin Notatum, is seen in his lab at St Mary’s, Paddington during WWII. On the right, a sample of penicillin mould presented by Fleming to Douglas Macleod, 1935.

Courtesy of Mapplin & Webb27 Military technologies that changed civilian life image 2

Wristwatches

Some of the first wristwatches were worn by soldiers and military men in order to allow the synchronisation of military manoeuvres on the battlefield without alerting the enemy. The importance of this synchronisation was recognised throughout the military organisations across the world and popularity began to spread. Later, wristwatches made their way into civilian life where they transformed into fashion accessories before becoming part of everyday life.

About the image – A press image shows three original Mappin & Webb Campaign watches, two Boer War examples owned by Officer Halpern, who is depicted in the portrait (top and middle) and one First World War example (bottom). On the right a vintage advert for the Campaign watch.

Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information Photograph Collection; Staff Sgt. Erik Cardenas, via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 4

Walkie-talkies

The classic walkie-talkie, like many things on this list, started life during WWII. It was initially developed for infantry use, then for field artillery and tank crews to provide convenient communication on the battlefield.

In peacetime, the use of walkie-talkies spread into civilian life starting in public safety, appearing on job sites and more. Now they’re available to purchase in a variety of forms including for private personal use.

About the image – A sergeant at Fort Myer, Virginia demonstrates a “walkie-talkie” in the field in 1942. On the right A U.S. Marine, with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Battalion Landing Team 1/4, radios in medical evacuation details during a downed-vehicle exercise in 2013.

Wikimedia Commons; Courtesy of Wehrmacht history.comMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 5

Night vision

During WWII, the German Army was the first to develop military night vision devices. By the mid-1940s, the first night-vision scopes and rangefinders were mounted on Panther tanks and made their way onto the battlefield. A smaller, man-portable night-vision system was later mounted onto Sturmgewehr 44 assault rifles taking the first steps towards widespread military use.

Night vision is now making its way into the civilian world in cameras and even being installed in modern cars to improve safety at night and make all our lives a bit easier.

About the image – On the right a WWII era “Vampir” man-portable system being used by the Wehrmacht. On the left a set of modern panoramic night visions goggles.

Courtesy of the University of Minnesota; Gift of U.S. Department of Agriculture, through Dr. Arno ViehoeverMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 6

Wound dressing/Sanitary napkins

Ben Franklin originally invented pads to help stop wounded soldiers from bleeding while they received medical treatment. In later years, this simple invention was adapted and changed to help women coped with their menstrual flow.

Things have changed a lot since then. The original menstrual pad manufacturers were also bandage makers, which gives an idea of what they were like initially.

About the image – A 1923 Kotex advert sits alongside a 1920 box of Sphagnum Moss sanitary Napkins.

USGS Public DomainMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 7

Jetpacks

In the years around WWII and after, the US military invested time and money in research into personal jetpacks and propulsion devices. The initial intention of these devices was to allow easy reconnaissance of enemy positions and installations, but also to quickly and easily get soldiers out of harm’s way. In later years, there were many attempts to create jetpacks for personal use in the civilian world.

About the image – On the left, the 1957 jet vest, on the right, Bill Suitor geared up and ready to demo the Rocket Belt for NASA and the USGS – circa 1966.

Via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 8

Freeze drying

The process of freeze-drying was originally invented in 1906 but it was put to increased use during WWII when blood serum was freeze-dried in order to the prevent it from spoiling during transport. This allowed for medical treatment of the wounded and saved countless lives.

In the years that followed, the freeze-drying technique developed further into the processing of food, manufacture of pharmaceuticals, manufacturing of ceramics, production of synthetics and much more besides.

Wikimedia Commons; Courtesy of Mylan.comMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 9

EpiPen

The original EpiPen started life in the military as an autoinjector intended for use by soldiers in the event of exposure to chemical warfare toxins and nerve agents. The design allowed for fast, safe and easy injection of essential medication with ease. This technology made its way into the civilian sector with hand-held devices intended to be carried by those with severe allergies for fast injection of Epinephrine in emergency situations. Countless lives have been saved since.

About the image – On the left the original military auto-injector used for rapid administration of nerve gas antidotes. On the right the civilian application of the technology for the administration of adrenaline to relieve allergic reactions.

Arche-foto, Burkhart Rüchel [CC BY-SA 3.0]; Naval Surface Warriors [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 10

Jerrycan

The jerrycan was originally designed by Germany in the 1930s for military use to hold 20 litres of fuel. This new design was a leap forward as previous designs required tools and funnels to use and were cumbersome when what was needed was convenience. The robust jerrycan design has been popular ever since.

About the image –  On the left two WWII era German fuel containers. The one on the right is the now-classic Wehrmacht-Einheitskanister made by Nirona in 1941. In the picture on the right, a near identical canister can be seen on the rear of the Japanese Defence Force vehicle in 2012.

Ministry of Health; U.S. National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons;Military technologies that changed civilian life image 11

Blood banks and transfusions

The carnage and devastation of the First World War saw the need for the rapid development of blood banks and transfusion techniques. Canadian Lieutenant Lawrence Bruce Robertson was the first to push for the adoption of blood transfusion techniques to help save the wounded. The success of his techniques led to increased use.

The very first blood transfusions had to be made from person-to-person due to issues with coagulation. Transfusion techniques and storage solutions quickly improved and blood banks were set up to help with casualties.

Medical advances soon saw the techniques move into the civilian world where transfusions and donations continue to save lives even today.

About the image – Left, a WWII era information poster issued by the Ministry for Health. On the right, Private Roy W. Humphrey of Toledo, Ohio is being given blood plasma after he was wounded by shrapnel in Sicily in 1943.

T5C. LOUIS WEINTRAUB; NASA/U.S. Army, via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 12

Space Programme

During WWII, Nazi inventors worked on creating various long-range rockets for delivering explosive payloads to enemy targets. These were the first steps towards putting a man-made object into space. After the war, the US took those German scientists involved in the V2 rocket programme back to the states to help them win the space race and to be the first nation to reach the moon.

Space travel has since become a passion for many, including Elon Musk and more. Travel into Earth’s orbit has also been used for commercial purposes with satellite navigation systems, satellite television and satellite radio all coming about thanks to the first developments.

About the image – On the left German rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, with a broken arm, surrenders to allied forces in 1945. On the right the July 1950 with the launch of the first rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida: the Bumper 8. Shown above, Bumper 8 was an ambitious two-stage rocket program that topped a V-2 missile base with a WAC Corporal rocket.

Rich Niewiroski Jr. [CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons; 1986 Paramount PicturesMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 13

Aviator sunglasses

Aviator sunglasses were originally developed in the 1930s for use by military pilots to protect their eyes while flying. They replaced the classic flight goggles and had many benefits over them too – being lighter, thinner and snazzier too. Eventually, the aviator sunglasses produced by the company behind the original pilot’s glasses were trademarked as Ray Bans and have since risen to iconic status in the civilian world.

Wikimedia Commons; Look Sharp! [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia CommonsMilitary technologies that changed civilian life image 14

Ambulances

In around 1487, the very first ambulances appeared on the battlefield. They were used by the Spanish army to pick up wounded soldiers from war zones. They weren’t usually sent in until after the battle had finished though, so many died waiting to be saved. In later years, horse-drawn carriages appeared in greater numbers working more effectively as ambulances and rescuing people quickly from active battlefields.

Ambulance use changed greatly when motorised vehicles were introduced and they quickly made their way into civilian life too.

About the image – On the left American Zouave ambulance crew demonstrating removal of wounded soldiers from the field, during the American Civil War. On the right a 1970’s era British Air Force Landrover Ambulance.

MedTech manufacturing trends to watch in 2019

By

Andrew Potter Bonifacio Consulting Services

“There’s a way to do it better. Find it.” — Thomas Edison

Medtech manufacturing professionals incessantly strive to find ways, as Edison encouraged, to do things better. Here are a few manufacturing trends to keep an eye on in the New Year. Some aren’t entirely new (though they continue to evolve), while others are just beginning and may be truly transformative.

 

Many deeply intertwined variables affect the business side of the medical device contract manufacturing sector: global markets and currency fluctuations; shifting clinical needs and varied patient populations; insurance, reimbursement and payment policy; raw material pricing and sourcing; manufacturing costs and margins. Those are just an important few. But what about manufacturing processes and technologies?

Automation and the Internet of Things (IoT)

Robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence are reshaping automation, allowing companies to improve quality, maximize value, keep costs down or offer new services. As automation costs continue to drop and robots become more flexible and able to take on more tasks, justifying automation for lower-volume and lower-margin projects becomes easier.

Automation and the Internet of Things (IoT) overlap somewhat. Companies may gather operational data and analyze and leverage valuable information from manufacturing processes to change their organization and product development. Advanced analytics help to identify patterns and prerequisites for workflows and processes, such as preventative maintenance.

Automated manufacturing execution systems (MES) automate data collection into existing manufacturing resource planning/enterprise resource planning (ERP) structures. An MES can track and document the transformation of raw materials to finished goods, providing information that can help improve plant conditions to improve output.

Many companies use ERP software systems such as IQMS that show the status of all molding machines including uptime/downtime/cavity utilization, etc. Sensors and data collection will continue to expand into more areas of the plant and enable better decision-making based on real-time data, which can give a full picture into manufacturing processes, employee efficiency, and production planning effectiveness.

IoT can also help to maintain quality. Sensors can monitor humidity, ambient temperatures, water and other elements that could harm the quality of parts.

Companies need to ensure they are collecting relevant, accurate and useable information. Information should not be collected simply for the sake of collection.

Additive manufacturing

Medtech manufacturers have been quick to embrace additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing, for prototyping, tooling, and in limited cases, final production. Factors such as speed, secondary processing, and appropriate materials still curb massive adoption. Despite current limitations, benefits include:

• Time to market: Improved and rapid prototyping make it easier to test concepts, designs, usability, etc.
• Manufacturing efficiency: Customized and manufactured fixtures, jigs and mold inserts easily improve manufacturing operations.
• Improved designs: 3-D printing enables designs and components not possible with conventional manufacturing methods.
• Customized products: Surgical tools, implants, and other 3D-printed components could improve patients’ lives and make healthcare professionals’ work easier.
• Cost reduction: Costs should come down as components are manufactured as needed, and there should be fewer complications as the one-size-fits-all approach disappears.

Most of the initial excitement around medical additive manufacturing has focused on metal products such as implants. On the plastics side, much of the energy is still on 3-D printing for educational purposes and prototyping of customized anatomical body parts such as the heart. But plastics also are being used for customized surgical tools, braces and continuous positive airway pressure (or CPAP) masks used to treat sleep apnea. Ceramics are also being used to replace/strengthen bones, particularly in dental applications.

3-D bioprinting is an exciting and potentially life-changing technology in which biological materials are printed and then grown in “bioreactors” to create artificial tissues and organs. This is an emerging technology and not something that we expect to see in any large-scale manufacturing environments in the near term—but the potential is impressive. Additive manufacturing can also be used in the pharmaceutical sector to customize pills to individual patients’ time-release needs.

As in most new innovations in healthcare, it will take time before significant amounts of medical products manufactured by additive manufacturing will be realized. Regulations, training, confirmation of costs and efficacy, as well as the conservative nature of healthcare, all contribute to slow adoption.

People: The most important tech

Medtech manufacturers need to know how to find and recruit a new generation of talent for highly technical areas as well as for the shop floor. While they’ve begun to seek out people already working in the industry, recruiting to less urban settings has proven difficult with millennials and younger workers.

Many manufacturers who work with community and technical colleges to provide hands-on opportunities with good future prospects, and may help reverse public impressions of dirty, low-paying jobs on the verge of being sent offshore. Medtech manufacturing workers are more likely to specialize in research and development, engineering, automation, quality, and operational excellence.

U.S. manufacturing apprenticeships are making somewhat of a comeback, particularly in tooling, maintenance, and processing on the shop floor, automation, and quality. The number of American apprentices increased from 375,000 in 2014 to 500,000 in 2016. The federal government predicts 750,000 by the end of this year, helped in part by expanding the apprenticeship model to include white-collar occupations such as information technology.

Andrew Potter is managing director of Bonifacio Consulting Services.

The opinions expressed in this blog post are the author’s only and do not necessarily reflect those of Medical Design and Outsourcing or its employees.

 

To Fully Realize Its Benefits, IIoT Cannot Be Conducted in a Vacuum

February 5, 2019
by Sean Riley via Manufacturing.net

 

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has almost infinite potential but potential is always grounded by a tangible ROI. In addition to the obvious cost savings and productivity gains, IIoT can be leveraged for developing more innovative products and services more efficiently. For instance, with IIoT, a manufacturing organization can optimize machine reliability and production, improve product quality, reduce wait times for quality checks, launch connected products and drive usage-based business models. More and more organizations are catching on to these demonstrable benefits, with Vanson Bourne research indicating the average manufacturer already houses 749 connected devices and that 90 percent of organizations believe the IIoT serves as a crucial competitive differentiator.

Common IIoT Project Complications

Still, IIoT implementations can prove challenging. Determining a clear starting point and ensuring value is delivered quickly are two incredibly common hurdles. Another common scenario that can lead to dire consequences is conducting IIoT in a vacuum. For example, if a manufacturer selects an IIoT software platform for a particular need or use case but neglects to consider any other needs the IIoT platform could fulfill, expanding that IIoT implementation will prove exceptionally difficult. The truth is, successfully scaling any IIoT project requires continually expanding to incorporate other use cases and/or expanding single use cases horizontally across the entire organization.

Understandably, organizations often start with cloud-based IIoT software trials that promise quick delivery and easy implementations. However such an approach only deepens the IIoT vacuum problem, as it removes the critical step of thinking holistically and taking the time to carefully evaluate how the software will meet a range of criteria and long-term operational goals. That said, taking months or even years to engage in a more traditional software evaluation process and request for proposal is no longer realistic from a competitive standpoint, even if this approach does tend to encourage more holistic IIoT thinking.

Best Practices for Escaping the Vacuum

To escape the IIoT vacuum scenario and implement software that supports both current operational needs and long-term business goals, organizations should adhere to the following three best practices:

  1. Evaluate all use cases. For any IIoT project to be successful, organizations must first determine their current and potential use cases, as well as carefully consider their current IIoT platform capabilities. Even if future use cases aren’t obvious yet, there’s enough information out there that can help organizations understand what they should be working towards. For instance, perhaps designing a predictive maintenance program could serve as a future use case, or maybe realizing condition-based quality maintenance should be the goal.
  2. Determine supporting capabilities. After evaluating both current and potential IIoT use cases, organizations need to determine what specific capabilities are required in order to deliver those use cases. This could include capabilities such as device connectivity, analytics, application connectivity and/or partner connectivity requirements. To ensure all capabilities are accounted for, it’s important to also take into consideration any previously pursued IIoT projects (whether they were successful or not).
  3. Confirm what’s real. Once all use cases have been evaluated and relevant supporting capabilities have been determined, it’s time to confirm the capabilities of whatever IIoT platform is currently in place. This is a difficult yet critical step that must be completed objectively, as often many software capabilities have been promised but they’re not real. Furthermore, if a significant amount of time and work has already been devoted to an IIoT platform, some project stakeholders may be reticent to admit to any shortcomings and inflate the actual capabilities of the platform.

A Holistic Approach Leads to Greater Value

Organizations that are able to avoid the perennial IIoT vacuum stand to gain far more value from their implementations. Thinking more comprehensively allows them to scale their IIoT projects vertically and horizontally, which can increase existing investment returns and create additional returns as new projects are completed. Escaping the IIoT vacuum also allows organizations to devise stronger strategies around emerging IIoT capabilities and accurately forecast the real-world impact of their IIoT project on critical business processes.

Too many IIoT initiatives promise lofty strategic differentiation, impressive increased revenue figures and enticingly low operational costs, when in reality most result in comparatively smaller gains due to the structure or current capabilities of the organization in question. Avoid falling victim to this widespread phenomenon by putting ample thought into the specific use cases, necessary capabilities and objective truths of your IIoT project before implementing a myriad of potentially conflicting solutions. In doing so, organizations can realize the full benefits of IIoT, while also gaining the ability to scale (up and/or out) their use of IIoT in iterations and reduce any potential implementation risks.

Sean Riley is Director of the Manufacturing Practice at Software AG