Smart devices and connected products, like the Apple Watch, raise an interesting question, what are the implications of transforming traditional products into smart connected products?

Now that we have sensors, connectivity, big data, and analytics, customers and businesses are leveraging this value to create new opportunities – here’s how.

Remote Operations

Connected products can share their data with their users, and likewise with the manufacturer, unlocking new service opportunities.

For example, I have the Nest thermostat in my house. I can adjust the temperature on my way home from work just but using a simple app control.

For a Minnesotan like me, this is pretty awesome when you experience winters like we have.

Remote Services

From a company perspective, remote access services are very valuable as well.

For example, just like a smart thermostat, manufacturers can automatically send updates to assets. Or if maintenance is required, technicians can often save time and money by remotely connecting to devices to ensure software and hardware are performing effectively. This can avoid unnecessary service calls.

Innovative Product Designs

Another great use case is how companies can change their product design strategies.

For example, IoT enables a new design strategy known as evergreen design. The premise is that when products are operating in the field, new software features can be built and delivered to a device to extend functionality and the usable life of a product. The Tesla car illustrates this concept well. Tesla actually used an evergreen design strategy to avoid a major recall.

A few years back, there were several instances in which the battery cell of the car actually rubbed against street curbs as the car turned corners, causing fires. Instead of sending all the Tesla cars back to the dealer, or a mechanic shop, the company sent a software update that automatically raised the clearance of the car chassis where the battery was located.

Tesla’s evergreen design saved the company money, as well as customer time, and money associated with a traditional recall.

Big Data Analytics

Another big game-changer in business is the value to be had from big data. Now that products can share information throughout their product development cycle and useful life, there is, in essence, a stream of data that we can collect, analyze, and use to inform all sorts of business decisions.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know when the average daily usage of your products or product segments is in decline or incline? It could drive new product innovation timelines, customer success strategies, and new revenue from cross-sell and up-sell.

Data Collection & Analysis of Consumer behavior

The practice of using big data is not new. For example, in the retail market, companies are using purchasing behavior data to inform their business decisions.

What they found was surprising. A few days prior to the forecasted hurricane, people bought a significant amount of pop-tarts. In particular, strawberry pop-tarts. On the day of the hurricane, they bought more beer. Based on this data, Walmart adjusted their stock supply in anticipation of the new demand. This use case is unique in that data was originating from people’s shopping behaviors. What is different now is that we can collect and analyze data from products as well.

Remote Monitoring

Take the case of smart sports equipment. A friend I play golf with had a sensor attachment that told her about her swing, ball placement, and field location. So, as we were playing throughout the day, she was pulling out her golf app, observing her golf swing, and adjusting performance based on that data. This is great for the user, and there are also added benefits for the manufacturing company!

For example, the tennis racket company Babolat has sensors attached to their play pure drive product, which collects data about a player’s swing, the speed of their ball, and impact location.

Product to service transformation

Babolat also provides a training service, where based on the player’s performance, Babolat will provide consulting, hitting tips, and other development programs. In this use case, big data is transforming a traditionally hardware-oriented company into a service company as well.

This brings me to my last example, which illustrates a radical change in how businesses perceive product value.

Product-as-a-Service (PaaS)

Namely, products are now carriers for potentially limitless services based on how you creatively leverage their smart and connected elements. This concept is not new.

Products-as-a-Service have been pioneered in the aerospace industry.

For example, Rolls Royce licenses out their engines to airline customers, and they charge airlines for the millage of the planes as well as services associated with repair, and maintenance.

This is generally known as power by the hour. This product as a service concept is gaining a lot of attention in the IoT market.

For example, there is a big software battle for ownership of the car segment. Google, Apple, Microsoft, and the original car makers are attempting to get a slice of the services associated with cars, such as navigation, entertainment, and safety systems. This new service focus is really interesting for product development and associated business operations.

Bottomline – products are carriers of tremendous value. Now that we have sensors, connectivity, big data, and analytics, customers and businesses can leverage this value, and create new opportunities.

IoT Intro Class

At EAC, we want to make sure you don’t miss out on any revolution with respect to potential capabilities that you can add to your products- while we also realize the importance of basing your IoT initiatives around your mission statement. That’s why we created what we call our IoT Development Workshop.

We have made it our mission to help guide organizations like yours to explore and embrace the uncertainty of the emerging IoT market.

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.

Smart connected operations are transforming companies and changing the way we do business.

Imagine if your company was able to take advantage of data that revealed existing and future problems, and allowed your team to make drastic improvements by completing predictive maintenance and service.

Business decisions can no longer be reactive. You need to be proactive — Here’s how smart connected operations could ‘revolutionize’ the way you do business.

Smart connected operations help businesses make faster decisions

What helps a company make fast, highly informed decisions? Data.

Smart connected operations allow information to be collected from multiple sources, assets, facilities, and even vendors. This connectivity allows data to be collected and analyzed to inform decision-making and enable teams to make faster decisions.

Smart connected operations help businesses increase operational performance

Smart connected operations can help your business monitor and track asset viability, ultimately allowing your company to reduce downtime, improve design, and improve utilization.

Data from connected assets, in collaboration with other enterprise systems, can provide not previously possible visibility and automation across organizations.

For example, product data flowing through a CRM system can also be sent to billing or into a supply chain management system— helping to eliminate error-prone manual steps and providing new sales opportunities for things such as consumable replenishment or warranty renewals. (PTC)

Smart connected operations help businesses decrease lead time and increase product quality

The insight smart connected operations provide will help you improve and perfect your production processes.

By integrating smart technologies and processes, your organization can lower development costs, time-to-market, and improve your overall product quality.

Smart connected operations help businesses improve manufacturing responsiveness

A sensorized manufacturing floor let’s you monitor performance, in real-time, and provide valuable information to field service technicians and manufacturing floor managers.

Service responsiveness will be accelerated with remote monitoring, access, and complete management of your disparate systems through enabling smart connected operations within manufacturing.

Smart connected operations help businesses improve supply chain coordination

The new capabilities of smart, connected operations will alter every activity in the supply chain.

Your operational efficiency will increase exponentially if your organization reaps the benefits of integrating with other data, such as inventory locations, traffic patterns, commodity prices, and historical data repositories.

Smart connected operations help businesses reduce manufacturing IT costs

Smart connected operations use digital interfaces that make it easier and less expensive to track the production process. These interfaces are less costly to apply and easier to modify than physical system controls. By integrating smart connected operations, your company will increase operation mobility, which in turn can reduce your manufacturing IT costs.

The sensors in smart connected operations also identify a need for service before the machine or product fails. These data analytics will drive previously unattainable efficiency improvements by providing predictive maintenance analytics and higher productivity levels.

With the help of predictive analytics, smart connected operations help organizations anticipate problems and take early action.

For example, your industrial machines would be remotely monitored and adjusted by end users during and beyond operation hours. They could even begin to manage themselves leveraging machine learning and predictive analytic engines.

The bottom line is that smart connected operations have begun to change business models, organizational structure, and manufacturing system architecture.

The development and the deployment of smart connected operations will be incremental, but the opportunity is here today.

What are you waiting for? It’s time to start capturing the time, dollars, production, and quality that smart connected operations can provide.