While the Internet of Things is generating hype in the industrial world, manufacturing CEOs only have one care – profitability.
That's why Schneider Electric is offering its systems integrators a tool to help customers optimize every asset of a plant – enabling partners to make a strong case for how IoT will not just help industrial efficiency and safety, but also profitability.
"We're pushing the concept called the 'Profit Engine,' and we're pushing it through our systems integrator channel," said Peter Martin, vice president of business innovation and marketing at Schneider Electric. "If you go and talk to a CEO, his first question will be, 'How does that improve my profitability?' His efficiency can improve 10 percent, and the profitability doesn't improve a nickel. We've been focusing on that problem. We've come up with patented ways of measuring the profitability of our customers right down to the piece of equipment level."
Through the company's tool, called Smart Control, the enterprise can manage and control all its business variables under a unified strategy – so management better understands what the real-time variables mean for overall profitability.
For instance, operators on the manufacturing floor can see the profit contribution of their pumps, valves, and programmable logic controllers.
Schneider Electric hopes that its channel partners, which include systems integrators focused on operational technology, distributors and value added resellers, will be able to leverage the Smart Control tool as part of an effective pitch for customers about why they can use IoT solutions.
"For me, I'm seeing a lot of confusion around IoT and IIoT. There's a lot of people talking about it with a lot of opinions of what it is. It's not well defined – but there's a lot of promise. In this case, the buzz means something," said Martin. "And from the channel's perspective, they're looking to us to tell them what it means."
Jeff Murray, president of Control Point, a Scarborough, Maine-based operational technology solution provider, said that Schneider Electric had promoted discussions in the channel through the umbrella of its EcoStruxure – the company's open, IoT-enabled system architecture and platform.
"The CEO doesn’t exactly care about the concept of industrial IoT – they care about the end results," said Murray. "When the CEO says they want to make something profitable, there's a vice president or plant manager who gets that message – and one way to get there is to take advantage of tools around IoT."
Competition in the industrial space continues to tighten, especially as other operational technology vendors such as GE and Siemens have started to build up their strategies targeting niche areas of the manufacturing space.
The company hopes to continue working with its partners to help them transform their businesses and drive sales around manufacturing operations which, according to market research firm IDC, was the IoT use case that saw the largest investment, $102.5 billion, in 2016.
"Schneider Electric has been talking to partners about these sorts of solutions all the time … there's always a discussion of how individual components can connect," said Murray.