CEO and Director of Engineering at National Control Devices.
The manufacturing sector is under constant pressure to increase efficiency and productivity while reducing costs. The internet of things (IoT) has emerged as a potential solution to these challenges. As a network of physical objects embedded with sensors that collect and exchange data, the IoT helps manufacturers optimize production processes and reduce downtime.
In addition, the IoT can help manufacturers create new revenue streams and business models that allow them to stay competitive. A Deloitte survey shows, “More than 86% of survey respondents believe smart factory initiatives will be the main driver of manufacturing competitiveness in the next five years, though only 51% are making/have made investments.”
IoT’s Rapid Pace Of Growth
The factors that have spurred the IoT’s growth include a growing focus on predictive maintenance, boosting production efficiency and streamlining the management of manufacturing infrastructure. The IoT offers manufacturers a new level of visibility, insights and control. This technology has the potential to revolutionize the manufacturing industry by optimizing production processes, reducing downtime, improving workplace safety and enabling predictive maintenance.
Let’s take a look at a few of the ways the IoT can help streamline and optimize processes.
Boosting Production Efficiency
Here are some ways the IoT helps streamline the production process:
1. It enables manufacturers to collect data from various machines and equipment in the factory, allowing them to identify trends and areas for improvement.
2. It offers critical metrics and allows monitoring of production status in real time. This enables easy replication of the production processes, automated auditing and timely resolution of production-related problems.
3. It connects machines and equipment wirelessly to the internet, which allows manufacturers to remotely monitor and control them, reducing downtime and increasing efficiency.
4. IoT-enabled machines can communicate with each other, allowing for a more coordinated and streamlined production process.
5. IoT can help manufacturers fix problems before they occur, reducing unplanned downtime and increasing productivity.
Enabling Predictive Maintenance
Predictive maintenance is a proactive approach that helps manufacturers avoid equipment failures and downtime. The IoT is increasingly important in predictive maintenance for manufacturing. Connecting devices and machines to the internet allows data to be collected and analyzed in real time to identify potential issues before they cause disruptions.
IoT-enabled predictive maintenance sensors can help improve the efficiency and safety of manufacturing operations and reduce the cost of poor quality (COPQ). These wireless predictive maintenance sensors calculate the vibrations of machines, surrounding temperature, acceleration, displacement and sound frequencies to detect if the machines operate under normal conditions.
Because these sensors can take precise temperature measurements, including extremely low and high temperatures, they are ideal for measuring the temperatures of industrial boilers, liquids and food storage units. This type of IoT-enabled sensor finds application in:
1. Vibration measurement of compressors, motors, robotic equipment, transport vehicles and conveyors.
2. Machine health monitoring.
3. Future fail detection.
By predicting downtime, IoT sensors enable manufacturers to take corrective action in time to prevent disruption in the manufacturing process. In addition, wireless industrial sensors optimize safety by helping predict if a machine is about to explode or is reaching a dangerous working condition.
Streamlining Asset And Location Tracking
One of the key challenges of asset tracking in industries is the sheer volume of assets that need to be tracked. Additionally, given that assets are often moved around frequently, it can be difficult to keep track of them, leading to lost or damaged assets, which can be costly.
Optimizing Quality Control
Effective quality management involves monitoring a vast array of process and machine parameters influencing product quality. Many manufacturing facilities’ product quality and process reliability depend on optimal humidity, air quality and temperature control.
There are several reasons why humidity control is so important in manufacturing. High humidity can cause:
• Material degradation.
• Increased energy consumption.
• Microbiological growth.
• Inaccuracy of testing equipment.
• Product drying issues.
In the past, quality assurance in manufacturing was a manual process that was often error-prone. With the advent of the IoT, manufacturers can now track quality parameters such as humidity, temperature, pressure and particulate matter with greater accuracy.
IoT sensors help collect data that can determine which products match quality standards and must be inspected more closely. This is especially important for manufacturers that meet quality standards such as ISO and GMP.
Facilitating Warehouse Management
Logistics is the management of materials, products and equipment. Because of changing demands, rising costs and increasing complexity, logistics has become one of the most critical elements in manufacturing today.
As a result, companies are investing millions of dollars in improving their capabilities. But these investments are not always successful because they often fail to anticipate or address their particular industry’s unique challenges.
Overall, several areas stand out as the biggest challenges in logistics:
• Complexity: The sheer volume of products and services that need to be shipped can make it difficult to manage and control.
• Speed: The speed at which orders can be processed and delivered can also pose a problem. Increasingly complex production processes, growing supply chain complexity, and globalization translate to faster delivery times, shorter lead times and shorter distance traveled by the carrier.
• Cost: As shipping costs continue to rise due to increased fuel prices, it becomes increasingly important for companies to minimize their transportation costs wherever possible.
• Capacity: Some of the biggest warehouse management challenges for the manufacturing industry are warehouse capacity, inefficient warehouse layout, managing inventory levels and tracking the movement of goods.
These smart solutions allow manufacturers to remotely monitor, manage and control all aspects of their facilities, including inventory, production, maintenance and repair. They can also minimize downtime and increase operational efficiency.
However, for manufacturers to unlock the true value of the IoT, they need to trust that their data is secure and they have control over it. Additionally, your IoT ecosystem needs to be interoperable so that different devices and systems can work together. As your IoT ecosystem matures, you will unlock more value.
For future-focused manufacturers, investing in the right IoT devices is an easy way to stay ahead of the competition and improve your bottom line.