It’s a matter of a new concept – the Internet of Things – dovetailing with an old one – supply-chain management. “The supply chain has become an actual application using Internet of Things technology,” says Nelson.
Today, manufacturers must ensure that their supply chains aren’t static, in terms of parts lists, suppliers and other key factors. “Now you have a whole ecosystem of suppliers and parts,” says Nelson. “They have to be able to adapt on almost a monthly basis.”
He sees a supply chain of industrial machines, up to 90 percent of which are not connected. “It’s actually become a market in itself,” he said. For the first time, the Internet of Things provides the capability to link those machines and provide a far more coherent picture of product moving to market.
The Internet of Things allows for “systems talking to systems instead of to people.” The value of such a technology is in knowing the right things to sense, and when action needs to be taken. But people still need to be in the loop. “You almost always eventually get to a user who needs actionable information,” says Nelson. The notion that the Internet of Things eliminates the need for human intervention is a misconception. “You have to include a user to derive value.”
The cloud is an essential element of the new technology, Nelson says. It aids companies in accessing and making use of huge amounts of data. Still, “it all starts with knowing what you’re looking for, having a problem to be solved, and looking for correlations keyed to an outlook that’s desired.”
Where will be the Internet of Things be a few years from now? Like most heavily adopted technologies, Nelson says, it will become transparent to the solutions, and “fade to the background as it’s deployed.” Users will focus on the value derived, not the underlying technology.
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