Machine-to-machine communications (M2M): When experts and industry professionals talk about this emerging technology within the Internet of Things (IoT), they often mean manufacturing and its accompanying IT. Usually, it’s about systems and software for the shop floor, about interconnected machines and plants, about self-steered manufacturing processes in smart factories.
In the industry of the future, however, not everything revolves around intelligent factories. It’s also about the possibility of working together beyond office and company boundaries. Smart factories, cyber-physical systems, and the Internet of Things offer new opportunities for cooperation and added value. The integration of different partners into a supply chain ensures more flexibility, complexity, and speed in the production process – which is exactly what customers demand nowadays.
M2M: Enabling leaner processes
A networked supply chain requires the use of other information technology as well: Underlying information and processes need to be digitized. It consists of different smart devices and smart services, which communicate via M2M and deliver valuable information and analyses for the supply chain management. This new technology means that the complete supply chain is virtually depicted: Data on stock levels, goods flows, and the status of assembly is permanently collected and monitored.
The benefits? Much leaner processes. By networking their entire supply chain, companies can save money on order management costs, reduce material handling costs, lower their inventory holding costs, and simultaneously ensure a high product availability.
Best practice: IZOMAT Ltd.
The Czech company IZOMAT Ltd. was founded in 1992 and specializes in manufacturing and installing chimneys and air conditioning systems. Its broad customer base consists of house owners, the real estate sector, and large suppliers of industrial chimneys and smoke flue ducts. To fulfill the demands of these diverse clients, IZOMAT had to streamline its merchandise logistics. An M2M solution provided by Deutsche Telekom now connects different parts of the supply chain with each other and a central platform via the Internet. As a result, every employee now has immediate access to order statuses and can provide relevant information to customers.
In fact, the networking process didn’t stop at the supply chain management: Thanks to a comprehensive IP telephony solution provided by Deutsche Telekom, all IZOMAT employees have been given smartphones to check the state of orders, their e-mails, and any other work materials wherever they are. “The solutions provided by Deutsche Telekom use LTE and mobile technology to help us improve the service for our customers, saving them time and expenses,” says Jaroslav Urbánek, an IT technician from IZOMAT.
In the past, the company often had problems with its telephone and Internet connections. Now, sales representatives in particular can use devices like smartphones, tablets, or laptops to connect to the Internet via mobile hotspots. Combined with a cloud solution to store data online, employees can work in a completely mobile fashion, whether they are in their home office, at a client meeting, or on the move. Communication between colleagues has also been improved, thanks to a tariff that allows unlimited mobile and fixed-line calls between all employees free of charge.
Another vital point for IZOMAT was the improvement of their security system. By connecting cameras and alarms in warehouses, transit zones, and on construction sites to a mobile data security system that alerts security guards if something unusual occurs using M2M communication, the company has been able to secure its valuable objects much more effectively.