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Smart factories are adopting more as-a-service models

Smart factories are adopting more as-a-service models
The utilization of the Industrial Internet of Things has made it possible for smart factory operators to take advantage of various new as-a-service models to increase productivity.
More companies have started offering new “as-a-service” business models for the manufacturing sector. Increased adoption of the industrial internet of things (IIoT) and cloud technologies are giving manufacturers the ability to combat challenges like unplanned downtime and deferring upfront costs. Loses from unplanned downtime can cost manufacturers millions of dollars. Utilizing new applications enabled through IIoT can help overcome challenges such as this. IHS Markit estimates IIoT solutions can reduce unplanned downtime by around a 30 percent.

Many companies have started or plan to offer new service models, such as maintenance as a service or product as a service. These business models are empowered by IIoT platforms by sending alerts if a product requires maintenance or attention, among others.

Maintenance as a service

Collecting large amounts of maintenance data has been made possible by the internet of things (IoT) and IIoT. The collection and analysis of this data have led to a new business model, maintenance as a service (MaaS). This service model gives smart factory operators and manufacturers the ability to remotely monitor machinery, create a smarter workforce and provide insight into the lifecycle of equipment. 

Utilizing MaaS can help smart factories deal with the problems brought on by unplanned downtime. Furthermore, the information can be used to determine when maintenance should be scheduled before a breakdown occurs. By doing this, smart factory operators can shift from a preventative maintenance approach to a predictive maintenance approach. 

Product as a service

One factor hindering the growth of smart factories and IIoT solutions is the cost of equipment. The product-as-a-service (PaaS) business model allows smart factory operators to pay for processes and operations instead of purchasing the equipment outright. This takes the stress off manufacturers when it comes to maintenance expenses, product failures and ensures they will not be stuck with obsolete equipment when it comes time for upgrades.

The current market for PaaS is still pretty new, but the continued expansion of IIoT solutions and smart factories should propel development. For now, some PaaS providers are delivering value-added services to machines already owned by manufacturers to help ease the transition. In this case, PaaS providers could add performance monitors such as sensors and controllers to existing equipment. The data collected could then be used to improve efficiency and even the product itself.

Automation as a service

The global automation-as-a-service (AaaS) market is expected to reach US$6.2 billion by 2022, according to a report by MarketsandMarkets. Growth is attributed to the increasing demand for automation and the increasing adoption of cloud technology. 

In the manufacturing sector, AaaS allows manufacturers to shift from slow manual processes to faster automated ones. It is being increasingly adopted for various workflows, such as vendor management, purchase order management, request for quotation and inventory management, according to MarketsandMarkets. Using AaaS increases productivity and reduces operational cost by eliminating routine manual and clerical tasks, and minimizing the manufacturing lead time.  

Future of as-a-service models in manufacturing

More as-a-service models are sure to emerge as the need for efficiency, productivity and cost savings continues. Already models for IoT as a service and IIoT as a service exist and will likely continue to grow. All of these as-a-service models, though, require the collection, sharing and processing of data. Concerns about data security and data ownership could pose challenges to adoption. However, the proper education, training and cooperation between all related parties on how to handle and secure data will ensure it is used to the advantage of manufacturing and not against it. 

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