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According to one study, there are 2.7 Zetabytes of data that exist in the digital universe today. That number is equal to about one trillion gigabytes. Not all of this data is being created by personal users - far from it. It's already proven to be an essential part of the 21st century business model in a host of different industries.

Organizational leaders can see how something is being produced, or where it currently is in the supply chain. They can see overviews of production flow history, dive deeper into physical properties and examine deviations and more. Part of the issue that "big data" presents involves making sense of it all. There is an essential story underneath that data waiting to be told. But when most experts predict that by as soon as 2020 there will be about 1.7 new megabytes of data being created for every human being every second, where do you even begin?

Thankfully, advancements in smart products spawned by the advent of the Internet of Things are poised to be the solution industry professionals need when they need it the most. Smart products and the IoT aren't just a way to create, collect and house that data. They can also be used to extract valuable, actionable insight from it, optimizing production downstream in an efficient and meaningful way.  (Industry 4.0: What’s Next, 2017).


The Many Benefits of the Big Data Revolution

For mill products companies in the metals, paper and pulp industry in particular, the benefits of smart products extend far beyond accelerating the speed at which they can deliver their products and services to customers. It also lets companies reinvent how they engage with customers in new and meaningful ways.

Thanks to the historical and real-time data generated by IoT-enabled devices, mill companies can now guarantee significantly improved uptime through the analysis of long-term operational usage. For a steel company, this might involve taking a deeper look into the thickness deviation of coils being used and how small but significant changes have a ripple effect downstream.

Backed by this solid foundation of data, companies can uncover new opportunities to optimize rolling speed for higher output, all while eliminating the probability of error by mitigating risk before it has a chance to happen.

In other words, companies are no longer relying on gut instinct or the dreaded "educated guess" when making decisions. Everything involves accurate, actionable data to eliminate guesswork from the equation entirely.

These types of advancements also give mill products companies the ability to create new revenue opportunities by shifting to usage-based models. In this situation, everyone wins - customers pay only for the precise resources that they're using and the end product of the mill company is priced more accurately than ever before.

This newfound level of insight extends to other value added services as well. In the pulp industry, information about a product like water content or fibre specification no longer exists in a silo. It is no longer restricted to the confines of your own internal organization. By providing that data to customers by way of an add-on service, you can monetize it in a brand new way.

Customers will love it, as they now have actionable information that they can use to make more informed decisions about their own uses like paper production. Your business benefits because you get to take something that already existed and turn it into revenue with little to no effort on your part. Once again, a situation is created where everybody wins.

Smart devices also support not only higher asset reliability through continuous monitoring, but more efficient and safer operations by distributing intelligence to the people who need it the most. Smart devices have advanced to the point where machines and the sensors connected to them can now recognize when the conditions are right for an error to occur or when maintenance is necessary.

That data is then immediately pushed out to the people who need it, allowing officials to take corrective measures now before a small problem has a chance to become a much larger and more costly one down the road.

This also alerts employees to dangerous situations ahead of time, guaranteeing that they have all the information they need to maintain equipment as safely as possible at all times.

Smarter Products Mean Smarter Industries

It's easy to see how advancements like these could benefit mill industry professionals in particular. In the context of steel production, the thickness deviation of the coil allows for more informed decisions about rolling speed. This can be optimized for higher output by minimizing the probability of error.

In the pulp industry, sharing information about factors like water content or detailed fibre size allows the customers to optimize their own paper production.

The smart product revolution also brings with it the most important benefit of all: opportunities for new revenue streams and competitive advantages. The type of information that these products collect can be provided to customers as a value added service, allowing them to be more involved in the process while allowing industry professionals to take advantage of a unique opportunity at the same time.

for more insight into how the Internet of Things is impacting the discrete industries - check out this white paper by IDC.
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