Manufacturing Operations/Management (MOM) software has long been confined to on-premises systems. But, as sensors and devices become part of the Internet of Things (IoT), MOM software applications are expected to follow the same path to cloud-based operation. The 2015-2016 Manufacturing Metrics that Really Matter Summary Report, released by the Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association (MESA) International and LNS Research, looks at manufacturers’ levels of awareness and their deployment of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), as well as cloud-based application solutions to optimize their plant operations.

When asked how the IoT is affecting their businesses today, manufacturers indicated they are much more aware of it than they were last year (44 percent of respondents vs. 19 percent in 2015). This increased awareness is indicated in another statistic: In 2016, one-third of respondents said they were still investigating the impact of IoT on their business, compared to just 21 percent in 2015. While the number of significant investments in IoT haven’t greatly increased, the study did reveal a large-scale rise in education and awareness of IoT and IIoT over the last year. The report’s authors expect to see more IoT acceptance in the coming months and years.

The study, which involved more than 4,000 manufacturing professionals, compared results from batch (15 percent), process manufacturing (37 percent) and discrete (48 percent) industries. Respondents from the US accounted for 45 percent of the total compared to Europe (28 percent), Asia Pacific (15 percent) and the rest of the world (12 percent). Small manufacturers (less than $250 million) accounted for 49 percent of the respondents; large companies (more than $1 billion) accounted for 41 percent, while 10 percent were companies with sales totals between those of the small and large businesses.

In 2015, 35 percent of manufacturers said they didn’t expect to invest in IoT technologies in the foreseeable future. That number decreased to 25 percent in 2016, which may be a sign of the increased awareness of IoT. Those who expect to start investing in IoT technologies, but are still establishing a budget, accounted for 29 percent of respondents in 2016, an increase of 6 percent from 2015.

According to the study, plant-centric manufacturing software with point solutions that cause it to remain earth bound is slowly evolving into cloud applications. In addition, the future of software implementation appears to be more focused on integration, with predictive modeling, plant analytics and manufacturing intelligence on the rise (applications that lend themselves to cloud-based operation). These are good indicators that manufacturers are expanding their viewpoints beyond individual plants and looking forward to advanced analytics technologies that can be leveraged across the entire enterprise.

The data historian, the key element for logging data, has become such a popular utility that about 8 percent of respondents are planning to purchase one, while approximately 23 percent already have the software. About 3 percent of manufacturers are planning to purchase HMI software, while 18 percent said they already have it. The study also found that about 16 percent of respondents are planning to buy MOM/MES software, while 18 percent already have it. The study emphasizes the growing need to extend manufacturing data beyond a plant’s four walls, and while the traditional ISA-95 model will be the standard for some time, MOM/MES cloud-based purchases are expected to increase in the future.

ERP deployments are as a sign of the future direction of cloud-based software applications. In the study, 64 percent of manufacturers reported already owning an on-premise ERP suite; 34 percent are planning a local ERP system. However, 25 percent of respondents said they are looking at a public cloud hosted by the software vendor, 30 percent are considering a private cloud for their ERP, and 11 percent favor a public cloud hosted by a third party.


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