IoT is a concept heard nowadays throughout many industries, one of the most important ones being manufacturing, According to a study conducted by IDC Research, one of the top three industries investing in IoT technology is manufacturing.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) can be described as the use of sensors, actuators, cloud connectivity and analytics to enhance manufacturing and industrial processes. It is part of a larger concept called the Internet of Things (IoT) where intelligent computers, devices and objects collect and share large amounts of data through a cloud-based service and provide analytical insights to people or act accordingly on their own. The IIoT derives from the IoT but bases itself in the manufacturing industry, where the goals include reducing downtimes and increasing reliability.
Benefits of IIoT Implementations for Manufacturers Include:
- Operations Efficiency: accessing data from sensors and automated and intelligent machinery and providing insights in real-time to operators enables dramatic efficiency improvements through smarter and more informed decisions.
- Reduced Maintenance Costs: IIoT technologies enable real-time monitoring of equipment condition or through secondary analytics such as monitoring OEE, preventative maintenance becomes a reality.
- Safety and Compliance: the fact that the IIoT is able to analyze big sets of data gives manufacturers the ability to improve overall workers’ safety and security in the plant. Monitoring KPIs such as number of injuries, illness rates, near-misses and property damage can give plant personnel and supervisors a lot of insight into the health and safety of workers. Besides insights from data, IIoT allows for automated human-machine interactions that reduces risks of incidents or injuries. For example, IIoT devices can communicate to larger systems when producing too much heat or presenting a gas leak, to which the system will automatically work to stop this. Machinery in dangerous areas can also detect when humans are nearby and take action while IoT devices worn by employees can help them get help faster when injured off-site.
- Process Optimization: with IIoT technologies, machines, operators, supervisors, managers, CXOs, practitioners such as those implementing continuous improvement programs and even third-parties like suppliers are all connected and sharing data. This allows for better communication and the control of operations on a remote level and at a faster rate, which improves the chances for process optimization. High visibility from data allows for easier identification of bottlenecks and waste.
- Inventory Cost Reduction: IIoT implementations allows for better inventory management as items are tracked automatically, reducing human error and delivering realistic estimates of available material and work-in-progress. In packaging, IIoT sensors allow manufacturers to gain insight on usage patterns and handling of products. Packaging duration and product deterioration can be traced to help in the re-engineering of products and packages for better performance. Overall, logistics and supply chain operations are drastically improved by allowing all parties involved to trace interdependencies and material flow.
- Quality: Naturally, as machine performance is tracked and processes are optimized, higher product quality levels will follow. Causes of poor quality can be discovered because immense amounts of machinery data is being acquired and stored for later analysis. Correlations between decreased quality and operational characteristics can be drawn to find root causes of poor quality output. From these insights, real-time alerts can be provided to operators to intercede before quality falls out of standard ranges. Data collected throughout the product cycle, such as machinery performance under different temperatures, composition of raw material used and the impact of packaging and transportation on product can help assess the overall quality and durability of products. These factors allow for process and product improvement capabilities that didn’t exist even a few years ago.
- Energy and Sustainability: Machinery inefficiencies, off-hour consumption and waste can be tracked to come up with ways to optimize production and increase sustainability. Determining where and when energy is being wasted allows for the creation of operating profiles to tell machines when to power up or down. These types of data allow for machinery to work at maximum efficiency without wasting resources, a big goal for all manufacturers.
The multiple advantages present in IIoT technology deliver all these benefits to manufacturers. Due to these benefits, manufacturers around the world are implementing or considering implementing IIoT into their business.
Interested in learning about a simple to implement manufacturing IIoT solution with fast ROI? Reach out to a Smart Factory Analytics solution consultant below!