Three Tips to Fast Track IoT Adoption in Textile Manufacturing

April 29, 2017

With an expected market size of nearly $700 billion by 2021, there is little doubt that the Internet of Things (IoT) will drive game changing transformation for manufacturers. Yet, several organizations continue to struggle with developing and executing a robust roadmap for IoT adoption. This keeps them from realizing two of its biggest benefits – connected products and connected operations.
From securing budgets and developing an IoT-centric business model to security issues and demonstrating ROI – the myriad challenges often make it difficult for companies to achieve an IoT lift-off. Gartner’s recent survey on IoT adoption reveals that less than one-third of the organizations surveyed were actively exploiting the technology – with business related issues and lack of IoT expertise cited as two of the biggest hurdles.

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However, manufacturers across the world are gearing up to change the situation on the ground as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) gathers steam. The textile manufacturing industry, traditionally slow to embrace change, is upbeat about IoT ushering in a fresh innings. The demand for smart manufacturing is soaring and the textile machinery market size is estimated to reach USD 22.9 billion by 2017.
Textile manufacturers looking to implement IoT can use these three tips to fast-track its adoption:

#1 Understand where you are headed, don’t start without a plan

Not knowing where to begin or where you are headed can result in undesirable outcomes. IoT technology can enable thousands of use cases with a plethora of benefits. These could range from reduced inventory and supply chain costs to higher worker productivity, faster turnaround on production, and improved machinery health and utilization. You need to prioritize the use case(s) that provide the most compelling benefits and returns for your business as well as your customers. Adidas, for example, has carved a distinctive niche in workout gear and the brand’s widely popular ClimaChill collection is designed to sharpen that focus. IoT technology used in the ClimaChill fabric gives the wearer a cold sensation while exercising, enabling longer training sessions and improved performance for athletes.
Finally, carry out a cost-benefit analysis, taking into consideration the inherent risks and uncertainties. While your initial roadmap may evolve as you progress on the path toward IoT adoption, you need a business specific vision of where you want to go – before you even begin.

#2 Team up with experts, don’t go it alone

As a manufacturer, your core strength lies in churning out high quality products that address your customers’ preferences in terms of style, fabric, delivery speed, etc. While IoT is a business enabler, implementing it successfully requires in-depth technology expertise, skill, and knowledge of proven industry best practices and trends. Collaborating with an experienced IoT solutions provider who understands manufacturing and supply chain operations and their unique challenges could be your best bet. Not only will such a partnership help you increase profitability by compressing manufacturing costs and maximizing ROI on technology investments, it will also position you for sustainable success through far-reaching business synergies.

#3 Start small, don’t wait for perfect conditions

While ‘perfect’ is great, it’s seldom practical. Given the speed at which IoT technology is gaining traction, if you wait any longer to get aboard, you’ll likely miss the bus and the early mover advantage. Begin by taking baby steps – everything is more manageable when you start small. Pilot a clear IoT adoption program with well-defined metrics to track, identify your data sources and establish flow, and use the results to refine your policy as you glean clearer insights into what works best. Prepare to scale once you have tasted success with your initial IoT pilot programs as the real potential lies in synchronizing IoT applications across the manufacturing value chain, not in silos.

Successful Adoption Happens at All Levels

Much like enterprise mobility, the initial adoption of IoT will begin with the user. The consumerization of IoT is already underway, with wearables and smart connected devices making their way into everyday lives and it’s only a matter of time before they begin to inhabit the workspace. Manufacturers looking to differentiate themselves through efficiency gains afforded by IoT must proactively plan for its adoption at all levels – factory floor as well as employees, if they are to augment competitive advantage.