Industrial Supply Chains Embrace Automation, Connectivity, Intelligence

Although many IIoT pilot projects are underway, few organizations are fully scaling up.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Ivanti Wavelink on Tuesday announced the results of a joint survey with VDC Research regarding the state of industrial supply chain operations and the adoption of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solutions.

The research revealed that there is an overarching trend toward greater automation, connectivity and intelligence in industrial supply chain operations. For industrial organizations, IIoT platforms offer significant promise to unlock new business models, deliver improved customer experiences, address the disruptive impact of downtime, and ultimately provide greater operational resilience.

“Today’s warehouses are more complex than they were 10 years ago,” said David Krebs, EVP of VDC Research. “Products and channels have proliferated, late-stage customization requirements have increased, the number of temperature environments has grown, and warehouse employee turnover has remained high with access to labor at an all-time low. The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified these challenges and as a result, manufacturers and distributors are urgently seeking new ways to optimize services and react to future market changes faster and more efficiently. IIoT can help organizations automate processes, improve performance and reduce inefficiencies, leading to higher revenues and lower costs.”

The good news is that IIoT deployment is becoming easier. The leading factors driving IIoT investments are improvements to production output (27%), improvements to asset monitoring and maintenance (14%), reductions to operational expenses (14%) and improvements to operational intelligence (13%). These efforts can be summarized around key productivity, sustainability, business agility and speed to market efforts and initiatives.

Organizations are also taking advantage of key technology trends that have significantly lowered the adoption barrier of IIoT solutions. These trends include improvements to IIoT platform functionality and ease of use, simplified development of IIoT applications through access to APIs and established communications protocols, lowered costs of sensors and data storage and the development of edge computing that shift computation from the cloud to the shop floor.

However, while many industrial organizations are underway with IIoT pilots, challenges still exist with few organizations fully scaling up their IIoT-enabled solutions. Various technical and organizational factors are typically at the root of these issues. Technical headwinds range from dealing with heterogeneous systems, determining which functions are supported by which applications, how the systems should be deployed, and how these solutions manage security requirements. Organizationally, IT vs. OT governance is an oft-cited source of conflict as is the challenge of failing to adjust business processes to encourage broader application and failing to fully realize the solution’s value.

“The bottom line is that industrial supply chain operations overall are moving forward on the IIoT technology maturity curve,” said Brandon Black, senior vice president and general manager, Ivanti Wavelink. “This is great news as IIoT transforms business operations by delivering optimal business outcomes, focused worker experiences, reduced costs and increased revenue. Maximizing IIoT’s value requires the commitment of leadership to ensure that IIoT is not just an IT initiative, but an organization-wide effort. At Ivanti Wavelink, we look forward to continuing to support our customers as they accelerate digital transformation initiatives and revolutionize supply chain operations with IIoT.”

VDC fielded a global survey among operations technology decision makers spanning multiple industries including retail, manufacturing, transportation/logistics, aerospace & defense, utilities and mining, oil & gas organizations. The survey was fielded during Q3/Q4 2021 and included 205 qualified respondents. To download a copy of the Ivanti and VDC Industrial Supply Chain Operations 2022 report, click here.

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