With solutions that can span a myriad devices and spaces, and promising opportunities to collect, centralize, and act on previously unavailable data, introducing the Industrial IoT (IIoT) can appear complicated. After all, there’s not just implementation and system integrations to consider, but also the potential (and often under-appreciated) cross-organizational value of new analysis and insights. To help address this, many companies create dedicated project teams reaching across departments and business units that aren’t frequent collaborators. According to the MIT Sloan Management Review, 77% of digitally-advanced businesses recognize and reward collaboration and cross-functional teams. “It’s just more difficult to think about any function in isolation because the processes are becoming so integrated,” said David Cotteleer, vice president and CIO at Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Harley-Davidson Inc to the MIT Sloan Management Review.
Key Members of the Team
Because an IIoT implementation can impact a variety of functions across your entire organization, it can be helpful to have a representative from each department. Even if a department’s purpose appears unrelated to the primary project objectives, it’s worth briefing them on both the goals and capabilities, as they may identify benefits that aren’t obvious to those outside of that function – making the project that much more valuable to the organization. Now that we know a little bit more about the value of cross-functional teams when working on technological projects, who should be on the team?
Facility managers have a wealth of knowledge about a company’s buildings and sites, and numerous responsibilities like monitoring utilities, overseeing building maintenance, responding to failure events, reducing energy usage, and minimizing overhead costs. With their intricate knowledge of the facilities, including members of facility management (in the event that facility management isn’t spearheading the project) on the team can be a great help around methods and means of implementation, performance benchmarks for HVAC systems, utilities, and more facility-related insights.
How Can the IIoT Help Facility Management?
Given that facility managers keep track of many systems and operations within a company’s buildings or sites, an IIoT solution can help them immensely through advanced system controls, newfound monitoring capabilities, and verification or centralization of data-based facility insights. Sensor-driven devices capture activity throughout a facility and transmit this data across a wireless network to a cloud-based platform like SiteWorx, where facility managers can access, analyze, and act on real-time and historical data.
Just like other members of an internal cross-functional team, operations plays an important role in making sure that critical production processes are efficient and uninterrupted by failure events or mishaps. Since they already work cross-functionally across other departments to ensure that processes, logistics and structures are optimized, operations professionals usually have a thorough understanding of the business.
How Can the IIoT Help Operations?
Through facility-wide monitoring solutions, the IIoT can help operations professionals keep everything going in the most efficient way possible. Centralized process monitoring, for example, introduces the opportunity for new efficiencies and insights that can help head off unplanned downtime.
Environmental Health and Safety
Sub-optimal (or worse, unsafe) work conditions can negatively impact productivity and health of employees. Collaborating with the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) managers ensures understanding of mandatory environmental regulations and specifications that must be met to ensure a safe and healthy workplace.
How Can the IIoT Help Environmental Health and Safety?
Many IIoT solutions provide environmental monitoring capabilities that track temperature and relative humidity, air quality, or decibel levels, all of which can impact productivity and safety. Advanced, automated lighting strategies like daylight harvesting can help to limit the need for artificial light by harnessing natural, ambient light to illuminate a facility while meeting footcandle requirements. EHS managers can establish the benchmarks for lighting levels, temperature, air quality, and more, and evaluate the real-time readings in comparison to the desired benchmarks.
Finance and Accounting
Introducing an IIoT solution can be a considerable financial investment, so it’s not only worthwhile but likely necessary to include members of the finance and accounting department early in the project. Briefing representatives from your company’s financial center can also help to sell a project to senior decision makers who may have a singular focus on the bottom line numbers. Moreover, some IIoT solutions can even pay for themselves – intelligent LED fixtures instrument the IIoT through smart sensors which are embedded in the lights, while delivering up to 90% in lighting energy savings. Over time, those energy savings can add up to an IIoT solution that essentially pays for itself, while also enabling new applications that create additional value.
How Can the IIoT Help Finance and Accounting?
An IIoT implementation can streamline the finance and accounting department’s reporting process while demonstrating a tangible return on investment (ROI). Finance and accounting professionals spend a lot of time curating reports to make sure that budgets are in line with the company’s spending. Because historical data insights are kept in one centralized place, finance and accounting can create dynamic reports and forecasts from the latest sensor-driven activities. IIoT platforms like SiteWorx even provide total energy savings in dollars and projected baseline costs. Between the in depth and easy-to-use reporting abilities and ROI through efficient lighting, the IIoT can add a lot of value.
When upgrading a facility – for example, replacing legacy lighting with intelligent LEDs – it can be easy to overlook both the necessity and the value of your IT experts. However, involving IT early in the process can smooth the path to implementation, and even project approval, particularly if you are considering a cloud-based solution. Because of their deep understanding of existing or legacy technology solutions within the company, IT can also help to create IIoT implementation workflows so that current systems aren’t disrupted during peak times.
How Can the IIoT Help IT?
The adaptability of the IIoT will be a draw for IT team members because it can make integration and expansion of new solutions much simpler. Early involvement also ensures that there are no integration surprises, and IT can get ahead of understanding how different systems and software might work together, to the benefit of the entire organization.
An increasing number of global companies are adopting IIoT solutions to compete in a marketplace where efficiency wins out and each member of a cross-functional team can contribute to helping their company operate in the most effective way possible. Almost every department can benefit from efficiencies the IIoT creates and provide valuable insight during the implementation process.