Three Reasons Discrete Manufacturers Must Integrate Digital And Physical Products

Discrete manufacturers in automotive, aerospace and defense, high tech, and industrial machinery and components are facing unprecedented pressures on their ability to innovate, engage with customers and consumers, and maximize return on their assets. By 2018, nearly one-third of discrete manufacturing leaders will be disrupted by competitors that are digitally enabled, reports IDC. In the age of digital disruption and transformation, discrete manufacturers must rethink traditional business models to capitalize on new, digital opportunities. One such opportunity is the sale of digital products.

Digital products offer many benefits over physical products, including frictionless buying, immediate delivery, and no shipping or supply chain management costs. But digital products can be difficult to sell on their own. To address this challenge, companies are pairing digital products with physical ones. For discrete manufacturers, this pairing offers new business models and revenue-stream opportunities.

Valuing digital products: Using physical products to drive digital sales

What is the value of a digital product? Consumers in the B2C world have historically been slow to jump at the purchase of digital products. As Fast Company reports, it takes a companion physical product to give the digital product value. For example, consider the case of Apple’s iPod and digital music downloads. In the age of Napster and free MP3s, digital music downloads were a slow seller. This changed after Apple introduced its iPod in 2001, creating a new physical product to house these digital downloads. More than 5 billion songs were sold through Apple’s iTunes store by 2008.

Learning from Apple, discrete manufacturers can adopt a similar approach by integrating their physical and digital offerings. Digital offerings, such as remote upgrade service and preventive maintenance contracts, are a natural add-on to physical products. IDC estimates that by 2018, 60% of large manufacturers will bring in new revenue from information-based products and services with embedded intelligence driving the highest profitability levels.

Three applications for digital-physical product integration

For discrete manufacturers, integrating digital and physical products offer three key benefits:

  1. Increased aftermarket value. Selling remote monitoring and digital services is perhaps the most obvious application for digital and physical product integration. Offering upgrades, continuous service, and preventive maintenance via remote monitoring is an important new revenue stream for discrete manufacturers. For example, remote monitoring can dramatically extend the shelf life of industrial machinery used in the food and beverage industries, high-tech manufacturing and automotive manufacturing. Typically, an industrial machine has a shelf life of 20+ years. But the rapid pace of technological change means machines constantly need to be retrofitted. Conditioning-monitoring sensors combined with the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud technology, and analytics would enable discrete manufacturers to offer ongoing digital service plans.
  1. Data monetization. IDC estimates that less than 10% of data is effectively used. Discrete manufacturers must treat data as a digital asset and use this data to improve user experiences, provide insight, influence decisions, and set directions. In the automotive space, discrete manufacturers can leverage usage and engagement information to effectively send content, such as software upgrades and infotainment. Like the Apple iPod/digital download model, auto manufacturers could use the physical product (the car entertainment system) to sell the digital product (the infotainment) to drivers. Automobile manufacturers can use analytic data to better understand driving patterns and preferences, location usage, and demographics. Analyzing this data will allow manufacturers to better target their digital infotainment offerings.
  1. Faster design-to-market cycles. Embedding sensors in industrial machines will generate a wealth of digital performance data that is useful not only for predictive maintenance but also for streamlining future production. Industrial machines are incredibly complex. Ideally, these machines are built following a model-based systems engineering approach that allows designs to be reused for a variety of customers. Integrating sensors into these machines will produce a stream of data that discrete manufacturers can use for future production guidelines. This includes using the data to configure new customer orders. This approach accelerates design-to-market cycles and increases customer satisfaction.

For discrete manufacturers to capitalize on new business opportunities, they need a strategic partner to support digital and physical product integration. Manufacturers need a platform that enables the seamless integration of industrial IoT with advanced analytics process to support product development.

Learn how to innovate at scale by incorporating individual innovations back to the core business to drive tangible business value by reading Accelerating Digital Transformation in Industrial Machinery and Components. Explore how to bring Industry 4.0 insights into your business today by reading Industry 4.0: What’s Next?

Internet of Things – Digitalist Magazine

WeMo Bridge review: $40 adds HomeKit support to most WeMo products

Announced last May, Belkin finally delivered its WeMo Bridge eight months later. This $ 39.99 device does one thing and one thing only: It brings Apple HomeKit support to WeMo switches and plugs. I bought the Bridge as soon as it was available, and it works as advertised.

Since it doesn’t do much, the WeMo Bridge is fairly small. It’s roughly a two-inch square that’s about a half-inch tall. In fact, it reminds me of shrunken down Apple TV although it’s white, not black. There’s a small LED on the top but that’s only used for setup purposes and isn’t illuminated after that. You don’t have to worry about seeing that light in the middle of the night like you do for some other smart home products.

On the back are two ports: one is an Ethernet jack and the other is a micro-USB. Yes, you have to physically connect the WeMo Bridge to your network’s router or switch (if you have one) with the included Ethernet cable. The micro-USB port is used to power the WeMo Bridge.

These two ports are part of the reason that I’m personally not a fan of bridge devices. I’d rather use a wireless connection instead of needing an empty network port on my router for a device like this. In fact, my router only has one Ethernet port, so in my case, I either need to buy a switch or have another device give up that precious jack. I’m not inclined to do the latter because I like having a hardwired connection from my router to my television set top box (the Nvidia Shield TV) for maximum throughput to stream 4K content. But that’s just me: You may have a network switch to use or one more empty Ethernet jack on your router.

Once connected to a network and powered up, the WeMo Bridge is easy to set up. You simply go into the WeMo app and choose to add a new device, picking the Bridge from the various options.

Doing so will open the Home app on your iOS device and from there, you scan the unique HomeKit code on the bottom of the WeMo Bridge. Choose a room for your Bridge and that’s essentially it. The Home app will now show your Bridge as well as any other WeMo devices you already have. The whole process took me all of three minutes.

After I ran through the setup, I immediately asked Siri on my iPhone to turn on my Bedroom light, which runs on an old WeMo Insight Switch. The light turned on immediately, without any lag. That’s one very positive observation I have about HomeKit devices: They react nearly instantaneously.

But it’s disappointing — to me, anyway — that Apple didn’t nail down its HomeKit requirements relatively quickly. It’s that very reason that single-purpose devices like the WeMo Bridge even exist. When Apple announced HomeKit in 2014, it decided to include a hardware requirement that all HomeKit device partners needed to use. From my discussion with some of those partners, that requirement changed along the way, causing device makers to adjust their products on the fly. And last year, Apple announced it wouldn’t require a certified chip in all of its HomeKit products so that companies could use software for the security requirement.

All of that added up to uncertainty for companies like Belkin and others who often iterate their products once a year. From Belkin’s perspective, I think it was wise to just wait HomeKit out and keep adding new smart switches and outlets to its product line. The company knew that a single bridge could add HomeKit in the future, hence reason the WeMo Bridge was made.

The WeMo bridge.

If you have a bunch of WeMo products (not WeMo bulbs though, as those aren’t supported by the Bridge) as well as other HomeKit devices in your iOS household and you rely solely on Siri for your smart home, the WeMo Bridge is a great addition. It’s easy to set up, works well for its one single purpose and isn’t too expensive. Just be sure you have an extra outlet near your router, switch or access point, along with an open Ethernet port.

Of course, if you already control your WeMo devices through another hub that supports scenes and Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa voice control, WeMo’s Bridge isn’t necessary. It all depends on if you want to give Siri the smarts to control your existing WeMo plugs and switches.

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

Five product trends to keep an eye for improvement of new or future iterations of products

You can always count on change as a constant in the Internet of Things (IoT). Here, David Grammer, PTC UK’s senior vice-president, describes five product trends we should keep an eye out for. The way that manufacturers manage information throughout the product lifecycle has changed significantly in the past few years.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has helped accelerate innovation in the design process, making it possible for manufacturers to receive information from products in the field that can be leveraged to improve new or future iterations of products. In order to succeed, organisations are going to need to embrace new technologies and capabilities available through enterprise system vendors.

Here are 5 trends in product design that engineers are going to be seeing and leveraging in the coming year:

Augmented Reality (AR) in design review

As teams become more globally distributed, it can sometimes be difficult to get everyone involved to review a product design in a timely manner, collect all the information needed for the review, and capture feedback for future action.

Using augmented reality (AR), team members are able to visualise, interact with, and provide feedback on product designs from anywhere in the world. AR makes it possible for stakeholders to interact with a 3D model of the product, such as walking around it and viewing different states of the model – including going inside the model itself. AR also enables users to get a third-party perspective from other teammates. This particularly comes in handy when deciphering notes from a colleague as it brings you to the point of view of the model they had when they made the comment.

IoT products transforming design practices

The market is clamoring for smart, connected products: whether it’s an Amazon Echo, a Nest Thermostat, or a Fitbit. In order to sufficiently meet the expectations of customers, manufacturers need to transform their product development process to understand and leverage data from products in the field. Noting product information on a CAD drawing is no longer going to cut it as products become more complex. Manufacturers will need to become more organised with their product development process.

Having a comprehensive PLM system provides a strong foundation to taking full advantage of IoT capabilities. By consolidating all product information into a single-view digital product definition, organisations can ensure that stakeholders are all accessing the most accurate, up-to-date product information. With a PLM system, all information is streamlined into a single easy-to-read Bill of Materials (BOM) list format.


Product data is an organisation’s most valuable asset. With products gathering data from the field, this data is becoming more valuable every day. However, many organisations continue to keep it locked away with engineering and manufacturing. Product data can be leveraged throughout the enterprise: whether it is how the marketing team promotes the product or how the sales team sells it.

By digitising the product development process, stakeholders throughout the organisation will be able to easily access product information. For example, if a manufacturer just merged with or acquired another company, digitising the product development process and making […]

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Samsung pledges to make all products ‘IoT ready’ by 2020

Samsung pledges to make all products IoT ready by 2020

Samsung aims to drive IoT adoption by boosting interoperability, through the use of standards and an ‘open platform’ approach. 

South Korean multinational conglomerate Samsung has said it will make all its products IoT ready by 2020, with a plan to boost adoption via what it calls an “open, consistent and intelligent platform.”

At this week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the company said it is working with partners such as the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) to set common industry standards. OCF is the largest IoT standardization body in the world and Samsung’s ARTIK chip, air conditioner and Family Hub refrigerator have already been certified by the foundation as having the interoperability criteria needed for IoT.

In the next few months, the company will integrate its IoT applications, including Samsung Connect, Smart Home, Smart View and more into the SmartThings app to connect and control any SmartThings-enabled device directly from their phone, TV, or car from a single application.

Read more: Samsung unveils new SmartThings IoT strategy

At home and on the road

Samsung also said that it plans to connect Harman Ignite – an automotive cloud platform – to the SmartThings Cloud. As a result of this link, say company executives, consumers will be able to manage their connected home from their car and vice versa.

At the show, Samsung demonstrated its Digital Cockpit to demonstrate how cars will become connected with other ‘things’ as part of the IoT. The new dashboard design, along with Bixby, allows drivers to control the in-car experience and their connected devices at home through voice, touch, gesture and context-based methods. Its 5G-capable Telematics Control Unit (TCU) can download and upload data faster and enables vehicle-to-everything communications, laying the groundwork for better autonomous driving, the company claims.

The company will also bring its Amazon Alexa rival, the artificial intelligence (AI) powered assistant Bixby to some of its smart TVs and new Family Hub refrigerators. These new fridges will offer a wide range of smart features, such as syncing food storage with meal preparation and will be able to recognise the individual voices of family members, to give personalized information such as news, weather and calendar updates.

“At Samsung, we believe IoT should be as easy as flipping a switch. With the new products and services announced today, we’re making IoT easier and more seamless,” said Hyunsuk (HS) Kim, President, head of the company’s Consumer Electronics Division and Samsung Research. “We’re committed to accelerating IoT adoption for everyone and making all Samsung connected devices intelligent by 2020. These advancements will help consumers realise the benefits of a seamless and simple connected life.”

Read more: Samsung launches data monetization service for IoT device manufacturers

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Internet of Business

3D Printing Building Products … And Entire Houses

Imagine waking up to find that the walls around you have disappeared, replaced by desecrated crumbles of concrete, slats of wood, and a seemingly endless horizon of destruction. A natural disaster has struck, and you are suddenly homeless.

Until now, such a situation almost certainly meant sleeping on a friend’s couch or in a homeless shelter. Now, however, there’s a technology that makes it possible to replace your home—literally replace it—in less than a day. Thanks to 3D printing, building a home in 24 hours is not only possible, it is a reality.

The emergence of 3D printing marks an integral part of what many people refer to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution—aka Industry 4.0, or the Internet of Things.

The umbrella term “Internet of Things” encompasses a variety of contemporary automation tools, manufacturing technologies, and types of data exchange. It speaks to the collision of cyber-physical processes that help bridge the connection between customers and suppliers. It signifies our capacity to fuse biological, physical, virtual, and chemical properties. For example, as it relates to 3D printing terms, a production order can be generated by a consumer and projected to the machine, with production data sent to the distribution partner. All this can occur in real time, thereby speeding up the whole manufacturing process exponentially and requiring far fewer resources.

This innovation is making a notable impact on the building materials industry. Here’s how.

Advantages in construction

In the last decade, engineering research teams have been experimenting with ways to utilize 3D printing to make components of buildings and homes. Using enormous printers, specialized concrete, and a composite mixture, they have created a much thicker concrete that is self-supportive while it sets.

By doing so, a new realm of possibility has opened up for architects around the globe. No longer are the typical design constraints in place, as curvilinear forms are possible without the cost and process limitations of rectangular processing. This not only brings innovation, but it also solves a well-known secret among designers: Rectangular structures are the weakest possible structural forms.

Moreover, structural components that are generated from 3D printing, also known as “concrete crafting,” use fewer materials than the same components made using standard concrete-forming techniques. While curved concrete structures that are poured into forms are solid, those that are created from 3D printing can be hollow. This allows space for necessary building services right inside the structural elements of the building.

Although 3D printing of building materials isn’t yet available for commercial use, its potential brings another exciting possibility: reduced costs, which can have a tremendous social impact. By using far fewer materials and much less labor, this is a much more inexpensive method of construction.

Coming full circle

Previous industrial revolutions managed to take the manufacturing process out of the hands of the general consumer and instead required specialists to produce materials in factories. The latest shift marks a change in approach, however. With the advent of the 3D printer, manufacturing machinery has slowly returned to the general public. This allows for greater creativity and increased production rates. Similar to Foucault’s pendulum, it seems society’s industrial revolution is coming full circle. 3D innovator Bre Pettis noted, “Before the Industrial Revolution, everybody did work at home; there was a cottage industry. Then you had to go to the factory to work. Now we’re bringing the factory back to the individual.”

The impact on construction is evident. By reducing the need for specialists, housing has the potential to become much more accessible for everyone, including people in third-world countries.

Current inroads

Sometimes progress is a slow-moving machine. Despite increasing production speeds and allowing for more cost-effective tweaks, a mere .01 percent of all manufacturing output is crafted from 3D printers.

Though the rate at which society is adopting 3D printing is comparable to a snail’s pace, there are noteworthy inroads being made. In fact, experts predict that the 3D printing industry will triple by 2020 to $ 21 billion, the bulk of which stems from demand in North America and Europe. This follows an already knock-your-socks-off implosion, with the year-after-year growth of 30 percent.

Architects are definitely taking note. In Beijing, a Chinese company built a 400-square-meter villa in just 45 days using a robotic arm attached to a 3D printer head. Meanwhile, a company in France is experimenting with using 3D printers to craft emergency shelters that can be used to house the homeless and people displaced by natural disasters. Lest we think only of housing when it comes to construction, a firm in Amsterdam is proving us wrong, using two robots to print a bridge that supports them as they go.


All this innovation isn’t without obstacles.

There are barriers to employing additive manufacturing to produce finished parts, and these are unlikely to change anytime soon. The success of 3D printing suffers from an unreliability of material and building properties, inconsistency of print quality, and the expense of raw materials, among other concerns.

Additionally, global demand for manufactured products is slow, according to the International Monetary Fund. Political uncertainty and Brexit concerns add to the challenges. Foreign trade is at a record low, and certain governments are making the free flow of goods a question mark.

All of this is to underscore the importance of productivity gains given the technology’s slow growth.

As businesses weigh the role of 3D printing in their production and distribution methods, there are important considerations. Worth noting is the steep learning curve that such technology presents.

Learn how to bring new technologies and services together to power digital transformation; download The IoT Imperative for Energy and Natural Resource Companies. Explore how to bring Industry 4.0 insights into your business today: Industry 4.0: What’s Next?

Internet of Things – Digitalist Magazine