How smaller manufacturers can overcome the initial cost barrier of setting up M2M communications

machine to machine (M2M) communication for smaller manufacturers

The use of Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication in manufacturing has become increasingly popular in recent years. However, as we talked about in our previous video, the initial investment required to set up M2M communication systems can be significant, which can be a barrier to adoption for smaller manufacturers. So in this article, we will explore some solutions that smaller manufacturers can use to overcome this barrier and benefit from M2M communication.

Start small and scale up gradually

One way for smaller manufacturers to overcome the initial investment barrier is to start small and scale up gradually. Instead of investing in a full-scale M2M communication system from the start, manufacturers can begin by implementing a small-scale system in one area of the manufacturing process. This can help them to test the system, identify any issues, and gradually improve the system before scaling it up to cover other areas of the process.

Focus on the most critical areas

Another solution is to focus on the most critical areas of the manufacturing process. Instead of implementing M2M communication across the entire process, manufacturers can focus on the areas that are most important and likely to benefit the most from M2M communication. This can help to reduce the initial investment required and make it easier for smaller manufacturers to adopt the technology.

Leverage cloud-based solutions

Cloud-based solutions have revolutionised the way businesses operate by offering scalable, flexible, and cost-effective alternatives to traditional IT infrastructure. By leveraging cloud-based solutions, smaller manufacturers can avoid the significant capital expenditures required to set up and maintain on-premises IT infrastructure. Instead, they can pay for the services they use on a pay-per-use basis, which can significantly reduce the cost of M2M communication. Cloud-based solutions also offer the added advantage of being accessible from anywhere, allowing manufacturers to monitor and control their operations remotely.

Explore government funding programs

Governments around the world are recognising the importance of technology adoption in manufacturing and are offering various funding programs to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in this regard. These funding programs can provide the necessary financial assistance for SMEs to implement M2M communication systems. For instance, the UK government’s Manufacturing Made Smarter program provides grants of up to £1 million to SMEs for the adoption of industrial digital technologies, including M2M communication. Also, in yesterday’s budget (15th March 2023) the UK Government confirmed that from 1 April 2023 businesses will be able to fully expense – 100% capital allowances for the purchase of qualifying plant and machinery.  

Similarly, the US government’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program offers technical assistance and funding to SMEs to help them adopt new technologies and improve their competitiveness.

Consider partnering with a technology provider

Smaller manufacturers may not have the in-house expertise or resources to implement M2M communication systems on their own. In such cases, partnering with a technology provider can be an excellent way to overcome this challenge. Technology providers can offer expertise in M2M communication and can help manufacturers select the right technology solutions that fit their needs and budget. They can also provide ongoing technical support and maintenance services, ensuring that manufacturers get the most out of their investment.

Consider partnering with larger manufacturers

Smaller manufacturers can also consider partnering with larger manufacturers that have already implemented M2M communication systems. By partnering with a larger manufacturer, smaller manufacturers can benefit from the technology without having to make the initial investment themselves. This can help to reduce the risk associated with adopting new technology and make it easier for smaller manufacturers to benefit from M2M communication.

Consider open-source solutions

Open-source software solutions are gaining popularity in the manufacturing industry, primarily because of their cost-effectiveness and flexibility. By using open-source solutions, smaller manufacturers can save on licensing fees and other software-related expenses. However, you need to ensure that these open-source software solutions will continue to be maintained and updated.

In summary, while the initial investment required to set up M2M communication systems can be a barrier to adoption, there are many strategies and solutions that smaller manufacturers can use to overcome this barrier. By starting small, focusing on critical areas, looking for cost-effective solutions, utilising government incentives, and partnering with larger manufacturers and technology providers, smaller manufacturers can benefit from the efficiency and productivity gains that come with M2M communication. As the manufacturing industry becomes increasingly competitive, adopting new technologies like M2M communication will become increasingly important for manufacturers of all sizes, and smaller manufacturers must find ways to overcome the initial investment barrier to remain competitive.

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