The popularity of the Internet of Things (IoT) has exploded in large part because of the prevalence of consumer gadgets digitally capable of connecting to the internet and obtaining seemingly limitless amounts of data. In addition to consumer use, IoT also has bolstered business for many industries, most notably, the manufacturing sector.
Let’s explore eight ways that IoT is impacting and changing for the better the manufacturing industry:
- Organized Operational Expenses
The IoT provides manufacturers the opportunity to reduce downtime by scheduling predictive maintenance. This is key as it’s one of the main operational costs in manufacturing.
The information provided by the IoT can also help improve energy use, better manage inventories, and schedule a company’s workforce.
- Quality Control
A standard quality process involves producing, checking products for quality, and making improvements if needed before they are released to market.
Through the IoT, this process becomes more dynamic because of video and thermal sensors that gather product information during various stages of production. Products can also be tested during every step of quality control to ensure that they meet standards.
IoT also helps quality control staff assess manufacturing equipment by checking if equipment deviates from standard settings during calibration. Since possible inaccuracies can be uncovered, improper alignment of products is much less likely.
Manufacturing companies also utilize IoT to monitor equipment settings as well as the outcomes during each step of manufacturing processes. As a result, these industries can better detect quality issues and their sources and quickly address problems.
Some manufacturing businesses also use IoT sensors to uncover various data metrics needed to measure quality in real-time.
- Customer Satisfaction
More and more customers are demanding customization. Conveniently, IoT gadgets can offer improvements in the manufacturing sector while maintaining quality, keeping customers satisfied, and maintaining product output and price. For example, IoT gadgets can prevent human errors and identify damaged materials or products.
- Handling Inventories
Handling inventories can become a seamless and efficient process thanks to IoT and radio frequency identification (RFID). All the products have an RFID tag and every tag has a unique identification number (UID) that contains digital details about a product. RFID scanners check these tags and extract data that is then sent to the cloud for processing.
The IoT converts data from the RFID scanners into helpful business perspectives. For example, it can track a product’s location, condition, and movements and provide this information to users.
Essentially, IoT provides manufacturing businesses a realistic estimation of available materials, scheduled arrival of new materials, materials used for ongoing production, and optimized shared expenses in operation.
This information allows manufacturers to better prepare better for receipt of raw materials if they’re able to track the traffic flow and movement speed of these products. This results in improved handling time and efficient processing of production materials.
- Predictive Equipment Maintenance
Manufacturers usually use an age-based approach to plan and maintain equipment and machine maintenance schedules. However, an ARC group study shows that only 18 percent of equipment fails due to age, while 82 percent fails because of random events. Based on this study, the age-based approach to maintenance might be not only ineffective but also more expensive.
Indeed, through IoT and data science, manufacturers can improve their maintenance planning. IoT sensors attached to their equipment can help them monitor equipment operation and perform analytics through cloud data to assess equipment condition. This will improve work allocation, make services and repairs more efficient, prevent downtime, and reduce a company’s overall operational expenses.
- Better Safety in Operations
When it comes to big data analysis, wearable IoT can improve worker, equipment, and operational safety in a manufacturing factory. This includes tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) such as absences, vehicle problems, broken machines, and other issues that affect day-to-day operations.
In essence, wearable IoT can continuously monitor employees’ health whether they’re working in the field or factories. Wearable IoT – by monitoring employee heart rate, fatigue, stress levels, and overall movement – can allow management to better understand, for example, the fumes employees are exposed to during a manufacturing process. This data can then help owners work on their compliance systems and lessen their insurance expenses.
In addition, should inconsistencies in suppliers, security, or standardization crop up, IoT can help. For example, manufacturers can prevent malicious attacks on their assets by connecting their IoT to IT structure and operation technologies. Also, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) protocols can limit interaction between manufacturing processes and personal gadgets.
- Better Metering
IoT has made it possible for those in the manufacturing industry to track the usage of electricity, water, and other energy sources. IoT sensors make it possible to assess the specific function of these resources and apply practices for their more practical use.
Because IoT vendors provide customizable end-user dashboards, manufacturers can thoroughly analyze results, thanks to intelligent meter monitoring. They can even compare efficiencies, carbon footprints, and expenses of other resources in order to introduce better options in their production operations.
- Better Packaging
One of the more sophisticated benefits of IoT for manufacturers is smart packaging, which utilizes materials capable of connecting to various things. Allowing consumers to engage with the product is the prime feature of smart packaging.
Smart packaging – which can be in the form of tutorials, videos, or demonstrations on using products properly – can also produce data that allows for better handling of products. IoT in packaging can be used in various ways, such as with QR codes and sensors. Not only do these add more value to a product, but they also gather data through intelligent tracking for better operations and efficiency.
A Well-oiled Machine
As the manufacturing sector continues to adopt IoT at a dizzying rate, the benefits continue to pile up. IoT solutions serve both manufacturers and their consumers, so it’s easy to understand how they steadily continue to transform the manufacturing industry.