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There’s a simple reason why companies need the internet of things (IoT) connecting information from machines and devices to people who work at all levels of organization. Data powers real-time business, which has become an imperative in a consumer-driven world. This is how Dr. Tanja Rueckert, Executive Vice President IoT & Digital Supply Chain at SAP (at right), kicked off one of the first-rate sessions I attended at the SAPPHIRE NOW & ASUG Conference.

“Data itself doesn’t provide value. The values comes when you refine the data and apply machine learning algorithmic intelligence and feed it into business processes, bringing it into manufacturing processes to improve operational effectiveness,” said Rueckert. “We have customers that have seen operational improvements of up to 30 percent from IoT in manufacturing processes.”

Think beyond automation and productivity

Rueckert said the SAP Leonardo IoT portfolio is transforming how industries operate along with business models, including track and trace across global supply chains for food, clothing and any consumer goods. Her main point was that the benefits of IoT extend far beyond automation and productivity to create new business models. She referred to an on-stage demonstration during Bernd Leukert’s keynote at the event, which showed how a power tool rental company could use IoT.
“When you have drills at a construction site, you want to know where they are and how they’re used,” said Rueckert. “IoT can track if you drill into a wall or the floor, feeding the data back into design and manufacture of the next generation of drills. This creates upselling opportunities and new business models to sell digitized services on top. You can also sell your complete product as a service in markets like air compressors, drills and cars.”

Consider the consumer experience

Consumer experience is the Number One differentiator for companies today, and that’s where sensors excel. Rueckert pointed to Trenitalia, a train operator based in Italy, as one example of how IoT impacts passengers.
“You’re riding on a train and want to arrive on time, and have the air conditioning, bathroom doors and brakes working. Two thousand sensors on Trenitalia trains obtain information by component, helping them save $150 million a year in maintenance costs, while creating a differentiated passenger experience,” said Rueckert.

3D printing creates powerful manufacturing network

Connected 3D printers are among the most exciting developments in IoT, and Dr. Gonzalo J. Rey, Chief Technology Officer at Moog, joined Rueckert on stage to talk about his company’s co-innovation with SAP. Both a consumer and supplier of 3D metal printing, Moog manufactures hardware that controls commercial aircraft, as well as equipment in factories, space, under the ocean and in medical treatment. His conversation included this video demo of 3D printing.
“3D printing enables previously impossible designs that really make a difference for our customers,” said Rey. “In 3D printing a laser turns on and off to build a product by layers. A file has absolute control over what comes out of the printer. This will be a powerful manufacturing network because you can send the file to any printer and out comes the part. However, for someone to trust this part and put it in an aircraft or medical equipment, you need traceability with the complete, sure data ensuring authenticity qualified printer.”

How to get started

Even as Rueckert outlined an expansive and spellbinding vision for connected business, she remained grounded with practical advice for companies exploring IoT.
“Connect the sensors first and go live, then start adding AI and machine learning to optimize logistics or production,” she said. “But don’t stop in one area like manufacturing or design. Connect all the different departments and go beyond company borders. No one has achieved this goal yet, but it’s the ultimate vision.”

Follow me @smgaler

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