Alain Louchez, who leads the Center for the Development of the Application of Internet of Things Technologies (CDAIT) at Georgia Tech, started his presentation at this year’s IoT for Manufacturing workshop at Georgia Tech with some sobering numbers that should be familiar to anyone who has attempted industrial IoT: Most projects fail.
Citing reports from PWC, McKinsey,and others, the expert consensus finds that some 60%-70% of firms have trouble getting out of “Pilot Purgatory.” That can be a strong incentive to just throw up your hands and not push further, either because it’s assumed more failure will result or the team that pushed for the use of resources may even be punished … and who wants to be in that seat again?
As for the causes of the failures, there are many potential issues, some of them unique to individual businesses. Being too ambitious can be a problem. “Some companies have failed with their digitization projects, because they tried to do too much,” Louchez says.
That’s not only on an individual project basis; as one audience member noted, “We have 7 or 8 pilots, and it gets to be a bit unwieldy … there are a lot of fiefdoms.” Another advised to “think big but start small” when it comes to IoT pilots.
Someone call OSHA, because we have a lot of visible violations in this video clip smuggled out from a factory, which looks like it’s manufacturing components for electrical power plants. No one is wearing helmets, fire suppression systems are not visible, and … Oh, never mind, it’s from 1904.
This clip was taken decades before the United States (and most other industrialized nations of the era) had modernized their industrial safety laws. The toll on workers was severe — just prior to the creation of OSHA in the early 1970s, an estimated 14,000 workers were killed on the job in the United States. By 2009, the number of deaths had dropped to 4,340 even while the number of workers has doubled.
The other thing that stood out about this clip are the number of people wearing semi-formal attire, including jackets, ties, white button-down shirts, bowlers, and leather shoes. It was clearly a different time.
On the other hand, maybe the next AI giant may come from an unexpected place, much like Amazon (1990s online book merchant) has emerged to become one of the leading online retailers, cloud service providers, and streaming content, not to mention grocery, logistics, and other services.
When the paper jam is in an industrial steel roller, you’ve got problems. This video, shot at a Canadian plant, shows the red-hot rolled steel bunching up after a mishap. The line shuts down quickly, but there’s a big mass of metal to clean up and recycle. Watch the video here.
PPR Tech Chronicles are snapshots of industrial technology, from legacy hardware to cutting-edge tech. If you have a cool or interesting example to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and title, a short description of what it is and why it’s so cool, and a photo or screenshot that PPR can include in the newsletter.