Innovation is not just flying cars. It can reduce costs and increase revenue

Robbert Brand

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 November, 2022 at 9:21 am by Andre Camilleri

You don’t need to spend millions of euros to start innovating. Robbert Brand, founder of Malta based Innovation and Technology company AIVHY explains how the installation of a smart sensor on your existing equipment can set you on the way to becoming more competitive.

Rising costs are forcing manufacturers across Europe to tighten their belts. Economists estimate that, as a result, many companies have seen their competitiveness squeezed by up to 75%. However, small innovation steps like installing IIoT sensors can save companies a lot of resources, generate additional revenue and even reduce carbon footprint.

At California Draper University, a start-up is testing a flying car,  which can drive on the roads, park in a normal parking space, and take off vertically when needed. It promises to be a unique experience of driving and flying without changing vehicle. When talking about innovation, people often associate it with these futuristic ideas and concepts that for most seem disconnected from everyday needs.

Today, the minds of those who run industrial companies (be it manufacturing, pharmaceutical, food production, logistics or any other industry) are mainly occupied with ensuring uninterrupted supply chains, sufficiency of components, orders coming in, and keeping energy bills in check. To this, we can add concerns about staff levels and growing competition.  Malta, particularly, is hugely dependent on logistics. Due to this, companies in Malta are disadvantaged when it comes to product pricing in comparison to mainland Europe.

How can a business understand where to invest resources in such challenging times? Will purchasing new equipment help the company to be more competitive or can existing equipment perform better?  

At AIVHY we have seen that even small innovative steps like installing IIoT on existing equipment can answer these questions and be an eye opener for company owners. Yes, seeing in real-time, on one screen, how efficient your production is, how much energy your equipment consumes and when, and if your machines and processes are performing at maximum capacity, is part of innovation.  

Is innovation really that costly?

Between 2018 and 2020, only 33.9 percent of surveyed enterprises in Malta (employing at least 10 persons), undertook innovation activity (based on information from the Malta Statistics Authority).  The main obstacles facing non-innovative companies were: too much competition in the market, innovation costs being too high, different priorities within the enterprise and lack of skilled employees within the enterprise. These might sound reasonable, especially for a business that thinks innovation means building flying cars. Indeed, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Blockchain, Robotics, IIoT and Industry 4.0 are some fancy words we hear a lot when talking about innovation. And often we associate them with investments of millions. But that’s not always the case.

Indeed, Industry 4.0 is more like a philosophy that promotes the idea of deeper interconnectivity amongst technologies. It can be applied in all industries. AIVHY can help companies to start with incremental steps and small investments to build the foundations for the next innovation. Some of the first steps companies can take:

  • Pre-investigation of the existing assets and systems in order to understand where the company stands and analyse the performance potential of the machines and processes.
  • Defining a vision, goals, objectives and strategy.
  • Establishing a roadmap with incremental innovation steps (like, transitioning to paperless systems; increasing automation by linking all machines in the network, reducing CO2 emissions etc.).
  • Installing IIoT to address real business cases – for example, sensors to extract data from the existing assets to reduce errors and deeply understand and act upon the efficiency and capacity potential.

With IIoT we can interconnect nearly everything in the company. These could be machines, production lines, warehouses, cranes, trucks and even people which could be all linked, sharing and receiving information in real time, thus allowing the company to run much more efficiently.  

What are the benefits of such interconnectivity?

Apart from having data visible in real time, enabling a faster and more precise decision making process, IIoT can cyber securely ensure many other solutions to solve many current challenges. It can reduce energy cost, waste, error, downtime and human hours. Moreover, it can increase revenues. And most importantly it can help companies stay in business by being more efficient in these turbulent times.

The Industry 4.0 philosophy is a toolbox of technologies that operate in a cyber secure digital environment. These tools help to improve quality, efficiency and performance while reducing cost, waste, error, and downtime. 

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