The modern factory floor relies on APIs because the technology allows manufacturers to effectively track and oversee every step of the value chain from start to finish. It also helps ensure machinery is working efficiently.

APIs for the Modern Factory Floor

Simon Peel | Jitterbit

Please tell us a bit about Jitterbit and your role in the advanced manufacturing industry?

I am the Chief Strategy Officer of Jitterbit. Jitterbit is an API transformation company that accelerates innovation by combining the power of APIs and integration. The Jitterbit API integration platform enables companies to rapidly connect SaaS, on-prem and cloud applications and instantly infuse intelligence into any business process. This can be applied to IOT enabled devices such as robots, supply chain management and a number of other business operations that are crucial to the modern factory and supply chain. 
 

What are APIs?

API integration is the coming together of APIs and integration.  APIs are the front door -- the way someone asks for information or the answer to a question.  The integration part is how the API turns around and connects/integrates into the applications and databases that it needs to get the answers to those questions, before serving up the responses to the requester via the API.  Our cloud-based API integration platform enables companies to create these APIs and connect the API into those backend systems, 75% faster than doing this by hand.  

There are many trends that underscore the importance of a robust API integration strategy, here are two of the biggest:

(1) Mobile first.  Customers go to their mobile devices first, for everything. Companies have created on-premise systems over many years.  None of them mobile.  All locked away behind the firewall.  APIs open up any system safely and securely.  These APIs can then be accessed immediately by Mobile applications both internally or externally.

(2) Explosion of best of breed applications.  Companies are switching on Cloud applications and Cloud Services at an alarming rapid rate.  Mostly Cloud or mobile applications and services. Mostly starting with the Line Of Business outside of IT’s control.  According to a recent Netskope Cloud Report, the average enterprise uses 98 Cloud services in HR, 87 services in Marketing, 63 in Finance and so on. But how do these applications talk to each other?  The answer is API integration.

 

How does the modern factory floor now rely on APIs?

The modern factory floor  relies on APIs because the technology allows manufacturers to effectively track and oversee every step of the value chain from start to finish. It also helps ensure machinery is working efficiently. This kind of API-enabled connectivity can potentially impact close to half of the global economy, according to GE.  
 

How have APIs reshaped the supply chain?

APIs allow companies to get real-time updates on where products are at any step along the supply chain and more effective manage where the materials need to be for maximum efficiency. Through APIs, manufacturers can track incoming parts and outgoing final goods, getting instant visibility. This enables manufacturers to spot, and tend to, potential supply chain disruptions before they happen.  

 

How, on an administrative level does API connectivity allows manufacturers to do more with fewer resources?

On an administrative level, API connectivity allows manufacturers to do more with fewer resources. For example, API integration can improve accuracy of  accounts receivable and accounts payable, and link together financial records of multiple supply chain partners. API-facilitated oversight makes compliance easier too, helping to ensure that certain materials remain outside the supply chain and that sanctions and international law are followed.

 

Can you give us a real world example of how your services are implemented and how they work in a factory environment?

Matouk, an 88-year-old luxury linen manufacturer, knew that to differentiate their product, customization and personalization was imperative—and to accomplish this, their entire infrastructure had to move to the cloud.Traditionally, data was siloed; manufacturing data was in an MRP system, financial data in an ERP, customer data in a CRM, etc. We were able to help the company make its CRM system the  primary system of record for inventory, sales order processing, manufacturing and purchases, all integrated through Jitterbit to the website with the EDI trading partner and the on-premise accounting system. Through this digital transformation, Matouk was also able to create a mobile app, which integrates right to the cloud from iPads distributed on the manufacturing floor.

 

In what ways are machine learning and AI improving the modern factory?

We've been using robots to augment and sometimes shift human efforts on the assembly line since the assembly line was first introduced. Automation and AI are simply the next logical step in this advancement. Robots can serve in a variety of roles, from the design and prototyping stages through production and shipping. The days of the “dump” robots who are designed to repetitively repeat one one task over and over will soon be behind us. These robots restrict innovation and force engineers to reuse the same parts for a wide variety items even if it is not the best solution, because it is expensive to rework them to perform even a slightly different task. AI allows robots to learn new skills quickly, teach other robots these new skills, automatically coordinate the supply chain and even suggest new approaches to the humans overseeing this process. These things are already starting to happen in the modern factory and as AI becomes more common you will see its impact broaden.

 

About Simon Peel
Simon is the chief strategy officer and chief marketing officer at Jitterbit, where his primary responsibility is driving hyper-growth. A self-confessed growth-hacker, Simon has dedicated his career to taking startup companies from their early stages to successful exits by building world-class deal-generation engines. He most recently led the go-to-market strategy for three of IBM’s fastest-growing acquisitions (Cast Iron Systems, a cloud integration company, Worklight, a mobile app developer, and StrongLoop, which focused on API management), where he built global deal engines that delivered triple-digit growth. Prior to IBM, Simon led strategy and marketing as CMO of Cast Iron Systems, delivering the explosive growth that led to its acquisition by IBM. Simon has also held strategy and executive marketing positions at Peakstone Corp., Vitria Technology and Micro Focus, all of which he helped to go public or get acquired.

 

The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of ManufacturingTomorrow

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