IoT refers to giving physical items – whether factory machinery or electronic appliances – the ability to be physically linked to the web. For quite some time now, IoT devices have been primarily consumer-focused nevertheless, they appear to be seeping their way into the manufacturing industry rapidly and will, without a doubt, change the entire landscape of that industry in every sense of the term.
In fact, over 40% of IoT devices available today are used in business and manufacturing and by 2025, the amount of these devices is expected to exceed 75 billion.
Interconnected manufacturing systems would mean that they would have the ability to communicate with clever platforms where data is shared, fed and analyzed for a variety of reasons.
IIoT can be implemented on industrial equipment, personnel, procedures and facilities, all of which will be connected. In smart factories for instance, sensors could be placed on equipment, ensuring that everything that takes place on the factory floor will be collected from the form of sensor-based data and in turn, allows businesses to make better informed decisions.
This will enable operation managers or factory managers to manage any given factory or plant remotely.
Each of these machines or devices are linked to a common, shared and secure network that would grant them the ability to monitor a variety of functions such as temperature, humidity levels, light usage and activity levels. This provides businesses with the capability to track and better manage their operations in an effort to increase productivity and efficiency levels.
In addition, another advantage of IIoT is its ability to increase safety within the field of manufacturing. The sheer quantity of data that can be collected and used in this case would enable businesses to gain an enhanced overview into how its systems and operations are functioning and if there are any potential or impending dangers that may occur during the manufacturing process through a predictive maintenance product which could prevent dangerous situations from taking place such as the overheating of gear.
Together with 5G about the rise, IoT is expected to become more efficient because of one of the key features offered by this next-generation technology that is ultra-low latency. Low latency would mean that sensors on factory floors could collect data in real-time, allowing staff to be alerted in any event, e.g. an overload or critical issue.
This not only reduces the risk of injuries amongst workers, but also prevents the damaging of equipment which would subsequently also lessen the price of maintenance or buying new equipment.
Being able to rectify a problem before absolute failure occurs will be a massive advantage. As a matter of fact, the main motivation for 54% of enterprises to adopt IoT is to reduce costs and only around 35 percent of IoT projects are really used to increase earnings.
Apart from its ability to increase safety levels on the factory floor, IIoT could also improve energy efficiency especially since the industrial sector is famous for being one of the biggest consumers of electricity. Industrial systems utilize a considerable amount of energy. IoT-powered sensors could be utilized to be able to identify the areas in which energy is being over-used or under-used.
Tracking energy output is important because, for instance, if a machine operates at a temperature that is significantly above the optimum level, a remedy could be found instantly, ensuring that electricity does not get wasted.
What is more, is that excessive heat might illustrate that the machine itself is actually faulty and as a consequence, maintenance can be run on it, thus preventing it from failing or breaking down.
Supply Chain Management
Another aspect to consider here will be the benefits it could pose for supply chain management. IoT could make supply chain management more data-driven through things like asset tracking through the utilization of sensors that have the ability to track a product from the moment it leaves the factory floor, all the way up to the minute it reaches the store and the hands of the end-user.
Data and its own specificity pose unprecedented possibilities within this sector. With new RFID and GPS sensors, asset tracking is made easy and much more specific than before.
It has been speculated that this could potentially enhance vendor relations dramatically since all parties involved with the distribution chain process would be able to access that granular data that essentially creates greater transparency that would assist manufacturers with enhancing the way in which they communicate with both vendors and providers.
Having a much better managed and more efficient supply chain would also mean that forecasting inventory could be accurate hence the future of the supplies will be constructed on the data that has been gathered over a fixed amount of time to decrease over-production, as well as wasted energy and raw materials.
Manufacturing schedules are more stable and the ideal amount of energy, technology and materials could be allocated to each process.
There is no doubt that adding IoT into a company’s supply chain strategy would make logistics more efficient. Having a fully interconnected transportation procedure whether it be in the form of trucks, vans or perhaps ships, would mean that operators may safeguard the practice of transporting the products and be able to detect issues throughout the procedure by receiving information in almost real-time, which will be faster once 5G starts to become deployed properly.