Smart Connected Products Are at the Heart of IIoT and the Digital Transformation

As is usually the case, some very interesting, and sometimes revealing points come out of the sessions at the ARC Forum. Dr. Uday Despande, Global Director of Electrical Design Systems for Ingersoll Rand made a compelling case for how a new generation of smart, intelligent products are at the core of smart ecosystems, factories, and drives the functionality of IIoT itself. The primary theme of Dr. Despande’s presentation was that smart connected industrial systems had to be based on core elements of connected intelligent products and components.  He also showed that building a smart connected ecosystem of products had to involve a distinct value proposition where connecting things, components, edge devices, edge sensors, and edge computing provides enhanced services in the form of descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analytics. The payoff, in the case of Ingersoll-Rand, was a connected product in the field that was able to provide enough essential information regarding its current state, condition, and also make predictions and even prescriptive fixes about the unit in service. This was a value creation around a smart connected product that offered enhanced services, and moreover, these enhanced services would spawn new business models for new revenue opportunities.  In the case of Ingersoll-Rand’s digital twin approach to its products in the field, Dr. Despande contends that the real value lies in the post-connectivity aspect. If one were to place this in the context of an IoT value maturity curve, once the device is connected and begins to move beyond monitoring to control, optimization, and autonomy, and then moves to being part of an ecosystem and system of systems, the value curve begins to move upward exponentially. Essentially, the value lies in industrial systems that are comprised of smart connected products, equipment, and devices that function as a connected industrial ecosystem. This ecosystem can be a system of systems that represent a single production line, a factory, a supply chain, or assets in the field. The business value increases as the data/information results in higher orders of actionable information, that is, moving from simple descriptive states to diagnostic, predictive, prescriptive forms that enable real process optimization, to ultimately providing a semantic form of information that can provide social context and meaning about the ecosystem at large. While this scenario can represent a real digital transformation that can essentially drive new business models and revenue streams, the important piece in implementing this model is getting data from “thingsâ€: Intelligence at the edge is critical.  So this brings us back to product design. The design of the physical equipment, devices, and products needs to cover the full spectrum of technologies and skills across mechanical, electrical, software, and IT engineering disciplines. According to Dr. Despande, simplified, realistic, and effective features are the new value proposition in product design, and to meet the requirements of IIoT. I would concur, and moreover, this also makes the case that the new design paradigm for IIoT ecosystems is predicated on a proven systems engineering approach where all design constraints on the various engineering disciplines must be functionally aligned at the onset of design.  The basic design principles of fit, form, and function still apply to product design, but the stages of the product lifecycle are changing to meet the requirement of smart connected ecosystems of products and equipment. The development lifecycle will become more agile, multidisciplinary, and cross functional by default. The functionalities of the product will become more distributed and based on edge data of things (smart devices, sensors, etc.), analytics, and the Cloud. The very nature of the Internet is openness, so design connectivity will be based on open systems and co-operative design criteria. Along the way the designer will have to consider the right technology for optimum embedded intelligence, flexible gateways, cost, and maintenance. IIoT-1Source: Ingersoll-RandReprinted with permission, original blog was posted here About ARC Advisory Group ( Founded in 1986, ARC Advisory Group is a Boston based leading technology research and advisory firm for industry and infrastructure.  For further information or to provide feedback on this article, please

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