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How the Industrial Internet brings efficiency to the mail center

If machines could talk, what insights would they provide to help us draw more value from technology?

Imagine a fleet of wind turbines. These machines rely on natural wind power to generate electricity. If they’re not optimised, they end up under-utilised and wasting energy. With operational data from the turbines – plus more accurate estimations of local weather patterns and energy consumption – an energy provider could draw far more value from its existing fleet. That would enable it to increase annual energy production (AEP) without ever installing a new turbine.

This isn’t a hypothetical example. It’s already happening. Relying on GE’s industrial internet technologies, E.ON Climate and Renewables North America (EC&R) improved the output and efficiency of hundreds of wind turbines. That led to a four-percent first-year increase in AEP. With more than 1,400 turbines now supported with industrial internet solutions, EC&R has been able to efficiently increase its energy output and yield 20-percent profit growth.

The industrial internet is what happens when you combine Big Data insights with Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. Powerful sensors embedded in all manner of machines – from jet engines to heart monitors – produce data that is automatically communicated from one machine to another. This creates richer real-time information to analyse. That leads to the type of fresh insight that helps an energy provider produce more power for less money or empowers a hospital to provide a better plan of patient care.

Businesses in a wide range of industries, including aviation, healthcare, mining, transportation and manufacturing, are already unlocking the benefits of machine-to-machine communication. Now, enterprises can, too.

Technology leaders are bringing the power of the industrial IoT into the boardroom and on to the mail center floor. Enterprises and service providers can now optimise mail manufacturing performance and achieve world-class operational excellence. Here are the top three areas where the Industrial IoT can make the biggest impact for your enterprise or service provider business.  

01.   Improved machine uptime and maintenance

Mail center downtime – whether planned or unexpected – inhibits productivity. When your machines can self-report system health in real time, you’re able to enhance the effectiveness of planned maintenance and turn reactive equipment repair or replacement into a proactive process.

For example, IoT-enabled sensors embedded in mail center systems could provide predicative indicators around machine usage, productivity as well as wear and tear. When you have extracted enough of this data on all of your machines, you’ll be able to establish a staged maintenance schedule. That each machine to be cared for at a pace that creates the least amount of disruption to overall operations.

At the same time, those sensors could identify a hardware problem before it occurs, thus eliminating the chance that an important machine breaks down right in the middle of a production run. With advanced intelligence, you could proactively re-allocate that machine’s output and take steps to repair or replace it. All the while, the rest of your mail center is able to keep producing at a normal rate.

02.   Maximised productivity and efficiency

Maintenance is only one part of the puzzle. The data from industrial internet solutions could help you optimize performance for each individual machine, an entire mail center site or even across multiple enterprise locations. Scalable monitoring is especially valuable to the growing enterprise or service provider, who might add new sites to expand operations.

Machine-to-machine communication can feed a stream of equipment effectiveness data. Through the IoT, you can collect insight on machine availability and efficiency, which can then drive performance-improving decisions. For example, if you were to find that a legacy inserting system is a major drag on mail center performance, you could decide to replace that machine or simply re-assign it to smaller tasks where its impact might be felt less. You could even optimise entire work cells to ensure that every piece of your operation meets industry benchmarks for performance.

These decisions can be applied at any scale. Choose to assign high-volume projects to only your most efficient and productive mail systems or you could evaluate your entire equipment estate against fresh benchmarks for what’s considered acceptable, marginal or unacceptable performance. Plus, because each decision is supported by real-time data, you’re developing a smarter, more practical understanding of your operational capabilities.

03.   Lower operational costs and optimised workflow

When it comes to operational spending, all of these workflow benefits add up to real-world savings.

When your systems are optimised to run as efficiently as possible, you can better control spending on raw materials and eliminate waste. With regularly maintained and proactively monitored equipment, you’ll devote less time to costly repairs and spend less money on expensive replacement parts. When your entire mail center operation is operating at peak capacity, you can make the most of what you spend on labour and service.

This is what’s possible when you combine incredible new data collection tools with deep analytics and embedded machine-learning capabilities. The best part is, this isn’t futuristic technology – these capabilities are available today. The Industrial IoT applies the power of emerging digital technologies to the physical world, helping businesses everywhere draw even more value from machines. For mail center operators, that means unlocking world-class operational excellence of better productivity and cost efficiency.