Smart technology is being incorporated across businesses more and more everyday and the manufacturing sector is no exception. The Internet of Things (IoT) has become a large resource for factories, providing an information network that provides analytics and real-time decision-making capabilities to the manufacturing floor.
As a matter of fact, nearly a third (31%) of production processes and equipment and 30% of non-production procedures and equipment already make use of this technology.
The result is a manufacturing system that gives way for full visibility across factory operations, and streamlining systems throughout.
So how exactly is IoT utilized in the manufacturing industry? To help you better understand, here are eight of the most significant IoT trends in manufacturing to be aware of and the effects they have on the industry.
Sensors are utilized across the manufacturing sector, in everything from identification tags to production equipment. Collecting all types of data, sensors feed data into factories’ analytics systems, tracking everything from access logs to vibrations.
As a specific example, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags are a type of sensor commonly attached to things in the manufacturing industry, such as name tags, product containers and other items, helping keep track of employees and assets as they move through the production line.
The effect is more control of the production process as a whole, allowing managers to identify and prevent issues that can cause defects or downtime and enhance yield and productivity.
Digital representations of physical objects and systems are a well-established idea, but if married with analytics and real-time data, they can be powerful tools for manufacturing.
Digital twins help to model systems and identify the potential outcomes of maintenance protocols before they take place, reducing downtime and costs.
Swarm intelligence is the process of collecting information from across many sources and using analytics to create actionable insights. For the manufacturing industry, specifically, this can be used to analyze the manufacturing processes as they take place, identify bottlenecks and optimize operations to keep production flowing.
Though artificial intelligence is a popular topic, it is increasing in adoption across industries. In the manufacturing industry, specifically, artificial intelligence is a powerful tool for predictive maintenance, collecting and interpreting vast amounts of data, recognizing patterns and making recommendations before a piece of equipment fails.
In the future, a handful of individuals expect AI to take an increasing function on the manufacturing floor itself, performing hazardous jobs to minimize worker injuries and increase efficiency.
Self-governed machines are becoming increasingly useful in the manufacturing world, assisted by AI to react to their surroundings in real-time using sensors and motor control. These autonomous systems assist factories improve agility and operational efficiency, and many expect it to take a more significant role on factory floors over time.
Robotics is a massive part of the manufacturing business, and they’ve just become more advanced over time. Networks of robots can collaborate and communicate, adapting to changing conditions more efficiently.
These “cobots” are expected to become more integrated in manufacturing over time, taking over hazardous tasks that could pose safety risks to humans.
While virtual reality replaces a consumer’s vision with a virtual environment, augmented reality adds to the viewer’s existing surroundings with a layer of digital content.
While this is most commonly associated with the entertainment industry, the manufacturing industry can benefit from this technology as well, giving workers an opportunity to get real-time information and instructions regarding the equipment around them while still keeping their hands free.