Chad DeJong wrote in Industry Week, “We need to apply our knowledge and perceptions of social media to the shop floor, in which trends and environmental conditions can be continuously monitored and dynamically presented to any user in any location with a mobile device. Data collected from factory equipment can help determine the health of the machinery and identify potential issues. This sort of predictive maintenance can curb lost productivity and potentially extend the life of the factory machinery.”
Data collection is key to success in Industry 4.0, but we don’t usually think of it in terms of social media. But we could. Your Facebook friends may keep up a steady stream of what they do and how they feel, sending out data that could be used to identify concerns about their health and wellbeing. It’s possible to see something similar in data collection from industrial machinery.
DeJong sees something else about social media going on in manufacturing.
“We should look forward to the democratization of data and insights, in which all company personnel can be involved in monitoring and continuously improving processes,” DeJong says. “Users must demand new solutions that provide access and visibility to data. Technologies that cannot proliferate information and scale across user bases are becoming extinct.”
In social media, everyone gets to have his or her say. Social media users don’t have to wait for journalists to give them information, or for permission to respond. How practical is this approach to industry? We can imagine Millennial workers demanding broader access to data, but companies may not respond positively to that demand. Security worries continue to be a barrier to Industry 4.0 generally, even with protocals in place that limit access to data.
But social media may be more familiar territory for some decision makers and industrial team members. Using this metaphor could make it easier to discuss and make decisions about how to use IIoT in our facilities today and in the future.