The manufacturing industry is under constant pressure to improve operational efficiency and quality while reducing costs. The adoption of IoT solutions can help organizations address these challenges and more.
Gehring Technologies, a 91-year-old manufacturer of metal honing equipment, was an early adopter of IIoT technology. Here are the top three benefits of IoT solutions for the manufacturing industry.
1. Better Quality Control
The IoT has the potential to address one of the most complex challenges that manufacturing plants face: quality control. The manufacturing industry requires constant monitoring and testing of products or processes to ensure a high level of quality.
This has traditionally required a lot of manual work and is prone to human error. With IoT solutions, manufacturers can eliminate or reduce the frequency of such manual checks and provide real-time information for faster decision-making.
Inspection departments can use smart sensors to monitor various parameters like temperature, humidity, airflow and pressure in real-time, sending alerts when they fall outside specified limits.
This ensures that the manufacturing process can continue smoothly, despite any deviations from set parameters. For example, if a sensor detects a change in humidity, it can automatically take action to adjust the environment or alert other departments to investigate why this change occurred.
2. Improved Industrial Automation
Another area where IoT solutions can help manufacturers is industrial automation. The use of robots and automation systems is increasing in order to improve efficiency and quality while minimizing the use of human labor. However, these industrial machines often need to be installed manually and integrated with existing equipment – an extremely time-consuming process.
IoT allows manufacturers to automate the installation and integration process via seamless data communication between devices and cloud storage for storage of settings and monitoring results. They can also use IoT solutions to provide real-time data for faster troubleshooting and take action accordingly.
3. Better Interoperability
The manufacturing industry relies heavily on IoT solutions for the production of goods. It is also highly dependent on other industries to ensure the smooth flow of materials between stages of production.
However, these dependent industries often use different technologies, which can lead to interoperability issues. For example, a manufacturer may require components from a supplier that uses different IoT standards or protocols, which makes sharing data between them challenging.
The adoption of common wireless protocols and standards across industries will help remove these barriers and make the process more seamless and efficient.
As discussed above, the manufacturing industry has numerous benefits of IoT solutions. With it, manufacturers can eliminate manual tasks and provide real-time data and alerts to improve operational efficiency and quality.
In the future, they will be able to integrate wireless technologies with their existing hardware to create powerful intelligent applications that will help them compete in the global market.
The global IoT in manufacturing market was estimated at $198.25 billion in 2020 and is expected to increase at a CAGR of 22.6% from 2021 to 2030, reaching $1,495.65 billion by 2030.
What Are IoT Solutions for the Manufacturing Industry
IoT solutions for the manufacturing industry offer operators a wide range of benefits. Some are already being used in production, with more being implemented soon. Here are some of the most common IoT solutions for the manufacturing industry today:
1 – Smart Products
IoT products and services can help manufacturers reduce costs and improve operational efficiency. The interactive nature of these products enables manufacturers to monitor their operations in real-time, which can lead to quicker decision-making and ensure business continuity.
For example, smart doors can alert operators when they are opened or closed without wait times or human intervention. This can help factories optimize their efficiency and reduce costs, while maintaining quality.
Another example is smart irrigation systems that have sensors that can automatically adjust water levels to minimize evaporation losses during the dry season. They work in tandem with systems like water meters and smart meters to ensure that the operator achieves optimum yield from a given plot of land. This allows the factory to increase output without wasting resources on unproductive assets.
The IoT can also improve operational efficiencies for manufacturers by enhancing communication among other devices and with their non-manufacturing business partners. For example, smart vending machines, which are being deployed in several industries today, will provide real-time monitoring of product sales and inventory management for manufacturers. Customers can order products and check inventory status, while manufacturers receive alerts on stock levels and can send out dispatch orders accordingly.
Other types of smart products include smart packaging and smart water meters. They can be connected to the cloud to provide real-time information on production rates and illegal diversions, thus increasing efficiency and helping fight corruption.
Smart sensors can also be used to detect potential threats – like fire traps in warehouses – reducing the risk of accidents while enhancing safety standards.
2 – Industrial Controls
Incorporating IoT solutions into industrial controls helps manufacturers increase operational efficiency by ensuring that the right resources are in place at all times. This helps minimize downtime, protects sensitive data and enhances safety standards.
The IoT can also be used to add additional value to products and services, such as adding real-time data for identifying defects or monitoring the effectiveness of equipment and processes.
For example, sensors can be installed in locomotives or trucks to monitor their speed, location and fuel levels. This will allow them to work more efficiently by reducing delays caused by breakdowns or maintenance.
3 – Smart Transportation
Manufacturers can harness the IoT for smart transportation systems that use advanced sensors and algorithms to monitor traffic conditions on roads at all times. This enables manufacturers to better schedule deliveries and minimize delivery costs by minimizing or eliminating idling times. It also helps manufacturers integrate IoT solutions with their existing transportation systems to improve efficiency, optimize routes and reduce costs.
The IoT can also be used to create smart parking solutions that monitor the status of vacant spaces in a manufacturing plant or warehouse, replacing conventional approaches like ground sensors used for counting spaces. They can also be used to streamline the process of tracking and dispatching vehicles as well as to create more reliable security systems.
4 – Industrial Security
Businesses face many security threats today, ranging from cyber-warfare to competitors seeking confidential data on production processes and products. The IoT can be used to help manage these risks and ensure that they are adequately protected while improving safety standards.
The IoT is already helping manufacturers create smart security systems that can monitor physical threats like theft and fire, while also detecting potential problems in real-time. These include monitoring environmental hazards such as chemicals, fires and smoke.
This allows companies to detect a fire before it causes significant damage or suffering to employees or customers through early detection equipment and/or fire alarms. The IoT can also be used to detect illegal activity – like drug smuggling – by tracking the activities of vehicles with tracking devices or sensors that record their location at all times.
Other IoT solutions for the manufacturing industry include smart surveillance and motion detection systems. They can help operators maintain their premises and protect their equipment from theft.
They also help manufacturers control access to sensitive data by allowing them to monitor employees and other visitors using RFID cards, biometric systems or facial recognition software.
5 – Smart Maintenance
Manufacturers use a variety of tools and equipment to manufacture goods, which reduces production time while ensuring high-quality standards. Maintaining these assets can be a costly affair as they are exposed to physical damage, weather conditions or wear due to constant use. In these cases, manufacturers have no option but to replace them with more expensive devices.
The IoT can be used to create smart maintenance systems that track the condition of assets in real-time and ensure that they are working properly. They can also be used to detect potential defects before they cause significant damage, for example by monitoring temperature levels, vibration and movement.
Maintenance schedules can also be automated to reduce downtime. This ensures that critical production equipment or machinery is working properly without compromising quality standards.
6 – Smart Asset Management
Manufacturers adopt a wide range of tools and techniques to complete their manufacturing processes. These include specialized software, hardware and devices that require constant monitoring and maintenance to protect sensitive data. The IoT can be used to monitor these assets in real-time, monitor their overall performance and detect potential problems before they cause problems.
The IoT can be used to send notifications when equipment fails or becomes faulty so that manufacturers are able to take the appropriate action. For example, it can prevent machines from making defective parts or use the latest sensor technologies for environmental monitoring such as temperature, humidity, vibration and moisture content. It also helps manufacturers reduce downtime by ensuring that critical equipment is working properly by providing alerts on malfunctions or other issues.
How IoT Can Be Used in Smart Manufacturing
How businesses organize their manufacturing processes and manage their assets depends on their particular needs and focus. Equipment like robots or CNC machines is complex device with various components, each of which can be connected through the internet.
MarketsandMarkets projects the global IoT in Manufacturing Market to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.9% from USD 50.0 billion in 2021 to USD 87.9 billion by 2026.
Automated machine tools can be used for a variety of purposes such as 3D printing to produce customized parts or rapid prototyping to create prototypes of new products. They also use sensors to monitor machine performance which can be integrated with other machines using the internet of things.
It enables them to collect data on production performance including key metrics such as total number of parts produced by each machine, time taken for production, total number of parts produced in a day and even measuring performance based on its past history.
Overcome the Challenges When Adopting IoT for Manufacturing
For businesses that are looking to integrate IoT into their business, it’s important to consider a few challenges along the way.
Smart devices need a secure connection to the internet, especially if they have sensitive data stored in the cloud. However, many manufacturers are still unclear about what kind will be best suited for their industry and the specific challenges they face. Before purchasing anything from a vendor, manufacturers need to make sure that it is compatible with their specific needs and challenges.
The cost of an IoT solution is usually different for every business with different factors like how much each device cost, what kind of hardware and software it requires, etc. Businesses need to identify their exact requirements and match them with the right device or strategy before deciding on a solution.
Once they have chosen an IoT strategy, they also need to create a realistic timeline of when they want the system up and running. It will not be a quick process and businesses need to plan out how long each phase of the project will take so that they are able to stick to the date. It’s highly recommended that businesses consult experts for help during this process.
How to Get Started With IoT in Manufacturing
Manufacturing is a key area in which IoT solutions can help companies improve on their processes and generate new revenue. However, this is something that businesses cannot afford to do without proper help from experts.
The industry has seen significant movement in the last two years with business models being disrupted by IoT solutions, which are gradually gaining traction among manufacturers around the world.
According to IDC, the manufacturing segment spent about $200 billion on IoT in 2019, nearly twice as much as the consumer IoT segment, the second largest IoT vertical market.
The following guides provide five easy steps for businesses to get started with IIoT in manufacturing:
1. Understand Your Objectives
The first step in the process of adopting an IIoT solution is clearly understanding your objective and how it will be achieved. Any business process will have a number of potential issues that can be improved on by adopting an IIoT solution.
The best way to figure out what you need is by creating a clear business case outlining the steps involved and the benefits it will provide.
Different manufacturers have different needs, which is why it’s advisable that they work with an experienced business analyst to help them develop a clear case explaining why they need this step and how it will benefit their changing business model.
2. Create an IoT Strategy
The next step is to create a strategy for adoption, which will include everything from defining the target audience to creating your product model and making sure that there are no compatibility issues. The best way to do this is by consulting with experts who have experience in this field and have built successful ventures in this space.
3. Select the Right Partner
After deciding on a solution based on your objectives, you need to select the right partner. Businesses need a partner who will not just provide them with hardware but also software as well as services that can support most of their processes including maintenance and implementation.
The production process is the process of converting raw materials into finished products. The manufacturing equipment is the equipment used to convert raw materials into finished products.
IoT technology is the technology used to connect the manufacturing equipment to the internet. The supply chain is the system that connects the manufacturing equipment to the finished product. The manufacturing processes are the processes used to convert raw materials into finished products.
Digital technologies are playing an increasingly important role in manufacturing operations. IoT devices are being used to collect data and improve operational efficiency. The industrial internet is providing new opportunities for manufacturers to connect and optimize their operations. These technologies are helping to improve manufacturing productivity and competitiveness.
In order to create a value chain, asset tracking is essential to identify areas of improvement and prevent equipment failure. This is especially critical in production lines where even a small issue can cause significant delays. Many manufacturing companies are now using asset tracking systems to streamline their operations and improve their bottom line.
The Top 3 Industrial IoT Platforms
The manufacturing Internet-of-Things (IoT) market was valued at USD 175.3 billion in 2020 and is predicted to reach USD 399.08 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 14.76% during the forecast period (2021-2026).
Below are the three leading platforms for smart factories:
1. Predix – GE
GE is one of the most prominent players in the smart factory space with its Predix platform. Predix has been designed and developed by GE Digital as a software platform to manage IoT devices across its global clientele, which includes more than 80 industrial companies and research organizations globally.
Predix provides real-time data and analytics to manage manufacturing operations and supply chain, including monitoring and controlling assets, and production process parameters such as temperature, pressure, speed and position of machinery in real-time.
The platform also gathers insights from various devices including wearables, cameras, and sensors mounted on machinery or equipment used in manufacturing processes including assembly lines.
Predix supports real-time, actionable insights by enabling predictive and prescriptive analytics on data captured from sensors. This enables companies to anticipate issue before they occur and make changes in time to prevent potential issues.
Simplivity is another player that has been focused on the development of industrial IoT solutions for a number of years now. The company currently has a number of customers including ABB, GE, Hitachi and Schneider Electric who have all deployed its solutions in their industrial ecosystem.
The products offered by Simplivity include its Predictive Maintenance product which uses machine learning algorithms to ingest data from machinery installed at client sites and predict potential maintenance issues before they happen.
It then categorizes the maintenance issues, advises on possible solutions and provides recommendations like which machines need to be upgraded and when.
Simplivity’s Predictive maintenance solution is a low-cost option for companies looking for an IoT solution that can help them avoid costly downtime. It also gives clients the ability to predict equipment failures days in advance.
Sensibo is a startup based in Singapore that has established itself as a major player in the industrial IoT space by providing its clients with enterprise software solutions for managing and monitoring their production processes and assets.
Sensibo’s two main products include Smart Factory which is a cloud-based solution that provides real-time data and analytics for a number of industrial operations such as inspection, maintenance, fabrication and production.
The company also offers its Dynamic Maintenance solution which is designed to enable clients to identify malfunctions in production assets so that they can troubleshoot it at the earliest possible time.
The global internet of things (IoT) in manufacturing market was worth USD 27.76 billion in 2018 and is expected to be worth USD 136.83 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 22.1% over the forecast period. IoT solutions are becoming increasingly popular in the industrial sector around the world.
They promise to provide companies with increased efficiency and productivity and help them monitor their operations more frequently to avoid potential issues before they occur.
However, businesses need to be cautious about jumping into this space without proper support from experts who have a strong track record in this field. The authors strongly recommend that you follow these guides and develop a well-defined strategy before beginning your journey with IoT solutions in manufacturing.