The Internet of Things (IoT) manufacturing

The Internet of Things (IoT) – How connected devices are revolutionising the manufacturing industry

Sarah Beldon Blog

Smart technology is becoming more and more prolific in our day to day lives. Wireless connectivity can change the way we turn our lights on, adjust temperatures and communicate. Yet, this technology is nothing new to the manufacturing industry where smart technology and intelligent devices are already incorporated into their daily activities.

In the age of Industry 4.0, The Internet of Things (IoT) continues to provide new insight into the manufacturing industry. This includes the way data is collected and analysed and the integration of artificial intelligence (AI).

The technology has transformed the traditional linear supply chain approach and has made it more dynamic, connected and operationally efficient; but it’s not done yet. The IoT market is predicted to double by 2021 providing additional opportunities and challenges for the manufacturing industry.

The power of connectivity

IoT has enabled a digital manufacturing world where data can be sent all the way from the manufacturing floor to the top level. Connected devices enable work processes to be communicated remotely, saving a huge amount of time. In addition to this, processes can be automated, and data can be stored in a central hub so that it can be analysed and used to make further improvements within the supply chain.

  • Predictive maintenance

One of the most fundamental benefits of IoT technology in manufacturing is predictive maintenance. Connected sensors attached to machines can notify engineers that repairs are required. Not only that, but these sensors can pinpoint the location of the issue, saving time for the engineer.

This technology is also used to predict breakdowns before they occur as well as alert a manufacturer of any danger or hazards. Where manual labour was previously time-consuming and arduous, these self-dependent systems save time for workers, reduce machine downtime and increase safety.

As a result, more time becomes available to invest in the business elsewhere. In addition to this productivity can be increased which can bring about huge savings.

  • Remote management

With IoT, activities within the business can be managed remotely. This includes controlling equipment such as setting temperatures and checking fluid levels. Furthermore, production lines can be easily monitored and cross-channel inventory can be managed from one place.

Real-time tracking of the production flow from start to finish enables managers to identify delays in production and can help to eliminate waste and improve quality.

  • Supply chain tracking

IoT devices can track the inventory system globally, bringing meaningful insights into resource availability. IoT has the capability to significantly reduce time locating tools, finding equipment and conducting manual inventories.

With connected devices, these processes are automated, notifying workers where tools and equipment are located. This eliminates the need for a manual inventory and can help to make monumental savings.

  • Plant safety

Beyond the benefits of saving time and money, IoT can help to keep workers safe. Machine learning and intelligence can help to highlight dangerous conditions. Advanced technology such as infrared thermography points out faults before engineers work on them. Sensors can signal warnings and draw attention to faulty connections or mechanical issues.

What’s more, big data can be used to improve overall health and safety by monitoring key performance indicators (KIPs) such as absences, injuries, property damage, and incidents. Increased monitoring of these activities can provide a better understanding and lead to new policies and improvements.

The future of IoT – what’s next to come?

There’s no doubt that IoT has led to increased productivity, refined processes, and enhanced quality control. Huge savings can be made for manufacturers and operational efficiencies have come on leaps and bounds.

2019 is set to bring about huge changes in technology including 5G and software-defined networking in a wide area network (SD-WAN) allowing companies to tap into higher performing networks. Smart cities, smart homes, and connected cars are all set to change the way that we live in the modern world.

Smarter technology in manufacturing

For manufacturing, the fast-paced change of technology is likely to bring about both challenges and opportunities.

Smart machines are likely to be leased instead of bought and marketed as both a product and a service. By taking maintenance away from manufacturers, they can focus on their operations. These machines will have the capabilities to control their own use, deliver maintenance and repairs as well as upgrade automatically.

It is likely that they will have the ability to order supplies based on real-time data. Machine learning can also see machines predicting their own service intervals too.

Boundaries are likely to be broken between sites to become part of a single network with seamless integration. The communication infrastructure will be built entirely on these networks to allow for flexible, co-operative working.

One of the main challenge’s manufacturers are likely to face is security. Breaches could lead to data loss, theft of intellectual property and large fines. Companies will need to address their data protection and cybersecurity challenges moving forward. This is to ensure that they are fully compliant with the law and both their data and their customers’ data is protected.

Despite concerns, the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) is clearly beneficial for manufacturers. Companies will be more profitable through further productivity improvements and will likely become increasingly competitive in a connected world which could change typical business models within the industry.

IoT brings a plethora of opportunities that can no longer be ignored; companies need to start thinking of new ways to benefit from this technology and set themselves apart in an increasingly changing world.

For more information about the Internet of Things (IoT) and how it can help your business get in touch today on 03333 44 55 01 or contact our team at salesenquiries@onecom.co.uk.