The internet of things and the capability to connect to the internet suddenly brings all kinds of new implications for products and their value. The internet of things is fundamentally changing how products function and how customers derive value from them.

How the internet of things is changing products and impacting what customers perceive as product value

Products today are becoming a combination of physical components, smart components, and connectivity components. Each of the 5 layers of the IoT stack plays a role — core product infrastructure, sensor systems, connectivity, analytics, and smart applications on an IoT platform.

While all three elements — Strategy, Connected Things, and true IoT platforms — seem somewhat elemental, balancing these will be central to the success of any IoT enabled business initiative.

For instance, look at a simple product, such as the light bulb. What is the product? In this case it’s the light bulb itself. What is the value of the product? I’m not talking about the monetary value, but rather the reason, need, or problem that drives the product purchase in the first place.

You might say in this specific case, the value of the product is the light that it provides, the illumination it creates, or perhaps the extension of functional hours it delivers.

What if we were to add connectivity to the product? By using an app on a device that controls the bulb via Bluetooth connection, you could now change the color of the light remotely. You could control the function of the light bulb with the sound of your voice. You could use the products new functionality to simulate the sunrise and replace your alarm. You could even sync the bulb to reflect your fluctuating stock prices! There’s a host of applications now available – just for a single light bulb.

Revisiting the original question, evaluating your new connected light, what is the product? Is it still just the bulb? What about the app that controls it, or the device that supports the application? It’s really an interesting question to consider. It’s really an interesting question to consider. For this same connected product, let’s talk about its value.

Again, I’m not talking the connected product’s monetary value, but rather the reason the product would be purchased in the first place. Would it still be just for the light or illumination, or is it the array of colors, new features and functionality? The fact of the matter is – the value of the product has changed. The connected product now adds value in the form of light, remote control, entertainment, and even overall experience.

How and Where to Start Developing IoT Strategies

Products and their value are changing

As a consumer shopping for an original bulb, you were most likely looking for a certain wattage or color (such as yellow or white) – not an experience. The connected product now adds value in the form of light, remote control, entertainment, and even overall experience.

Now that products are changing and you have systems of products: an app, a bulb, connectivity; the product value changes as well. You now have the ability to look for a light that can be synced to music or sound. A light that simulates the sunrise. A light that you can control from your device. You now need to weigh product value against a slew of new price points, features, and the support the manufacturer will provide over the years.

There’s no question that the value of products is changing because products themselves are changing. We’d like to help you map out this new world. If you’d like to do anything from brainstorm potential impacts to your business, develop a full strategy for IoT at your organization, create proof-of-concepts, or implement underlying technology… you’ve come to the right place.

We’re your partner in the ever-changing world of the internet of things.

If your organization creates service information, work instructions, installation operator guides, user guides, technical instructions, service manuals, or even service procedure bulletins – it’s time to rethink your process.

Let’s talk about how to make your service information accurate, relevant and accessible.

Defects in products happen, but in the case that a product needs to be taken apart- it’s important to do it the right way. This is especially true with today’s advanced complex products.

This is why organizations often don’t question why they’re managing mountains of paper-based technical publications. But what happens when a service call involves the use of particular tools that aren’t quite outlined in a service procedure manual?

Or when field circumstances turn out to be different than the initial service order and the correct manual may not have made it into a technician’s vehicle?

What happens when technical publications designed to guide service are no longer relevant due to product or tool changes? Despite best efforts – service, installation, and operation problems arise. These problems cause worker confusion, dissatisfied customers, and business risk.

Providing information that no longer applies to specific products forces operators to troubleshoot challenges based on assumptions and experience – or worse – inexperience. Paper-based and locally stored procedures, instructions, and guidelines also have a tendency to make work instructions difficult to find.

If your procedure documentation guidelines are disconnected, they are only hurting you.

The good news is, with the help of simple technology, any organization has an opportunity to rethink their service information. There has never been a better time to make service information accurate, relevant, and easily accessible.

The solution? Interactive digital work instructions.

How to make service information accurate

You might be surprised, but as a matter of fact, the first step towards achieving accurate service information involves using the content (such as Tech Pubs, Arbortext, DITA, XML, Images, etc.) that your organization has already created. Evaluate the current service information processes your organization has in place. For instance, you might currently be using paper documentation.

What’s the problem with paper documentation?

Once your documents are committed to paper alone, you can no longer assure their ongoing accuracy. The underlying information could have changed right after it was printed! Your information should (most definitely) include the latest version of technical publications and content (such as Creo Illustrate, Windchill, Service Information Manager, InDesign, FrameMaker, Oxygen, etc.) that you already have without the need for added latency or work for authoring, styling, and publishing.

When you’re in a digital work instruction environment, that environment is set up to draw from the most accurate up-to-date information available on your system. This is why the best possible way to ensure the accuracy of your service information is to move away from paper workflows and go to digital work instructions – instantaneous access, up-to-date information.

How to make service information relevant

The best way to ensure that your service information is relevant is by connecting your technical publications back to your engineering and manufacturing content creators.

What do we mean by that?

Your work instructions, service manuals, operation guides, and bulletins all come from files you have on hand. So why shouldn’t they directly connect to and show operators and technicians accurate and relevant information about what they do?!

Furthermore, if your current service processes involve the need to find and locate product information before your technicians start the job, you end up losing valuable time.

It’s time to change that.

The way to make your service information more relevant is to have your instructions take your technicians down a specific product path. Using visual work instructions will allow your service teams to get specific information and insights that directly pertain to what they need.

By implementing technology that can cross-reference technical publication content, you can be sure your service information will always be relevant no matter the task.

The technology available today even has features like ‘work process selects’, to route directly to the correct tech pub content. Even better, it also has the ability to navigate to cross-referenced content such as DITA, XML files, images and more!

Simple solutions on the market today can even provide service technicians and operators with the ability to immediately start on a service task. With the help of technology, such as a digital device or a handsfree headset, service technicians can instantly receive relevant work instructions at their fingertips… or eyeballs… by simply scanning a barcode.

Your service information should be accurate and timely, and the best way to make that possible is by directly connecting all the files you currently have! It’s that simple.

How to make service information accessible

Making service information more accessible has everything to do with the use of digital devices such as mobile or wearable devices.

By using mobile or wearable devices, workers have the ability to instantly connect directly to work processes and even existing tech pub source content. Every organization has the ability to make service info easily accessible to the extent that the company wants.

For instance, you can easily make any information accessible and relevant now with a connected Industrial IoT environment. By using Wi-Fi and cellular connections, technicians have the ability to connect online to whatever the most relevant information is.

Your path to better service information

Please contact us to see how Industrial AR can be used to connect and reuse existing technical publications and content. We have the know-how, technology, and team to help you take your digital transformation to the next level, decrease service and manufacturing errors, and improve the way you distribute technical information.

Watch this video to see EAC’s solution for converting work instructions to digital AR experiences with AR Instruct.

It’s no wonder people like you are researching ways to reduce downtime. A 2016 ITIC survey found 98% of organizations said a single hour of downtime cost over $100,000. 81% of respondents said an hour of downtime cost their organization over $300,000!

Remote monitoring, remote diagnostics, and predictive analytics are helping organizations reduce downtime. They’re transforming the way companies manage and service their manufacturing operations. As Gary Wollenhaupt calls out in his article about how IoT Slashes Downtime with Predictive Maintenance; manufacturing machinery and other assets can now be connected to the industrial internet of things. Predictive maintenance will begin to replace scheduled maintenance based on mileage, time, usage, or other predictive measures.

We now have the ability to digitally peer into the inner workings of an asset to understand performance, tolerance, temperature, or any number of other factors that can be measured using sensors and device networks. When harnessed, this data is the is the answer to the question being asked by many organizations – “How do I reduce downtime and increase productivity?” 

There are many tools on the market to collect the data streaming from sensors and turn it into useful information. We recommend PTC’s suite of industrial connectivity / Industrie 4.0 solutions. We’re not alone. Forrester Researched named PTC and IoT Software Platform Leader and PTC’s ThingWorx was named a leader in “IDC MarketScape: Worldwide IoT Platforms (Software Vendors) 2017 Vendor Assessment.” PTC’s integrated solution suite includes ThingWorx, Vuforia, Kepware, and others.

IoT Leader Forrester Research ChartIDC Market Scape

Our team of solution architects and technical experts can help define and implement the solution(s) you need. We want to help you begin remotely monitoring your assets, whether manufacturing or remotely deployed (products), and leverage predictive analytics to reduce downtime and save money. It may involve a custom solution set, or it could simply be PTC’s eacy-to-deply Manufacturing Apps.

EAC is here to take on as much or as little of your project as necessary. We can simply provide the software for your own team to implement. Or we can manage the entire process from installation, to implementation, to integration and front-end development.

Please contact us. We want to help you leverage technology to reduce downtime and improve your bottom line.

Here is a better description of the solutions mentioned above:

The ThingWorx platform includes compatible modules that deliver the functionality, flexibility, and agility enterprises need to implement industrial IoT apps and AR Experiences. This includes industrial connectivity, analytics, and application enablement. ThingWorx is unrivaled in its ability to help companies quickly connect data streams and publish dashboards or mashups.

Kepware is a single solution for collecting, aggregating, and providing secure access to industrial operations data. The ThingWorx Native Interface integrates the Kepware KEPServerEX with ThingWorx easily and securely. This integration lets organizations take data streams from almost any manufacturing asset and present it in a useable format. The Kepware family also offers a predictive analytics engine in addition to other Machine-to-Machine (M2M) and Data Tunneling solutions.

Vuforia is PTC’s solution for creating rich augmented reality experiences for applications such as work instructions, user training / manuals, asset monitoring, and service instructions. It lets users leverage the richness of 3D and insights from IoT to deliver compelling augmented reality experiences the help improve efficiencies, build better products and enable safer, more productive workers.