Global manufacturing is under constant pressure to evolve and increase productivity and efficiency while reducing operational costs. IoT (the Internet of Things) has developed as a powerful solution to these challenges. "IoT" refers to a network of physical objects embedded with data-capturing sensors that collect and transmit data for analysis throughout the manufacturing process. IoT helps maximize efficiency and optimize production to reduce downtime, improve worker safety, enhance security, and increase quality control across the manufacturing process (regardless of the industry).
But IoT goes a step further via new revenue opportunities companies can use to enhance their business model and stay profitable in an ever-competitive landscape:
"The manufacturing industry embracing emerging technologies such as wireless sensors, cloud computing, embedded systems, and big data has given rise to a fourth industrial revolution called Industry 4.0. This industrial revolution has enabled a technologically enhanced globalised world where advanced technologies can directly control the manufacturing industry’s machines, services, factories and infrastructure and influence intelligent procedural and strategic decisions"¹
The promise of IoT is greater efficiency, reduced costs, and increased output in the manufacturing process. Here is a look at some of the ways IoT helps to modernize production:
Maintenance in a factory or warehouse is constantly ongoing. Predictive maintenance is proactive instead of reactive, which helps manufacturers avoid equipment malfunctions & failures leading to production slowdowns or stoppages. IoT is changing how maintenance is done through connected devices sending and receiving data in real-time to identify potential problems before they manifest.
Suppose IoT-connected equipment notices over time that a specific water cooling system at a steel manufacturing plant tends to break down following particular processes. In that case, the system will "predict" when and where the next break will occur and inform technicians to make repairs before they compromise the entire system. This is particularly useful when monitoring temperatures of smelting operations, semiconductor manufacturing, or food storage units.
This variety of IoT sensors with embedded systems is useful for applications in:
IoT sensors allow manufacturers to take proactive action before a machine part breaks or the system is shut down due to failure. Furthermore, wirelessly connected sensors maximize safety as they predict if a machine is getting too hot or vibrations are becoming dangerous, especially if these lead to unsafe work conditions. IoT sensors can alert factory managers, or even an autonomous security network, to shut down production where the danger exists.
Quality control is essential to all kinds of manufacturing. Customers want to be confident the goods they're purchasing and using meet quality standards. Businesses need to comply with safety compliance laws and want to be confident in their manufacturing process and the products they produce. This means establishing and maintaining machine & factory parameters like air quality, humidity, temperature, vibration, etc.
Humidity control is one of the most critical pieces to monitor and control in any production facility, whether for food production or electronics. Too much moisture in the air can lead to:
Before IoT, quality assurance was done manually at a high cost and with many human resources, making it expensive. Utilizing IoT, manufacturers can track important quality assurance markers throughout the production process and the facility itself, all at once, from one computer screen or remote device like a smartphone.
Sensors help collect and send data to the platform for analysis, which determines which products or outputs meet or fail to meet quality standards pre-defined by a knowledge-based AI. If criteria are not met, the AI will alert personnel to remove products outright or fix the issue, if possible, automatically. IoT quality assurance is far more efficient and requires fewer factory workers to oversee.
The workflow of a smart factory is changing what a manufacturing factor looks like, regardless of the industry vertical:
"The discoveries of new possibilities in the horizontal value chain between different actors factors, the vertical dimension of improving efficiency and productivity in the smart factory, and the end-to-end dimension of considering the full lifecycle (including service) in the re-design of products, are the most relevant Industry 4.0 aspects addressed."²
Here is an example of what a modern smart factory may look like:
Figure 1. IoT Smart Factory³
The logistics of the production process are as important as the final product or output. Managing sourced materials, personnel, and equipment requires a unified approach due to ever-changing costs, demand levels, and manufacturing complexity.
Businesses across the globe are investing substantial sums into their logistics and manufacturing infrastructure. But there are still several key areas that remain logistics obstacles:
"The applied science community is now very active in the context of helping companies and industries, which realize that the connectivity, transmission, curation, storage, analysis and use of data, together with advanced visual computing technologies, such as visual analytics, intelligent computer vision, and graphics, can empower day-to-day production, processes, final product quality, and post-sale services."⁴
One serious obstacle preventing widespread IoT adoption in the manufacturing industry is the lack of well-qualified technical experts and a severe lack of platforms suitable for this large-scale operation. Companies are looking to maximize the potential of IoT in their operations, and having a mash-up of providers, device suppliers, and installations creates a system that doesn't communicate properly. The whole operation sees little benefit if various parts of equipment and software systems don't send and receive data to one another seamlessly.
Your choice of a digital partner can be a major game changer in your business cycle. IoE's EDEN is the premiere ecosystem explicitly designed for large-scale data drive IoT installations in modern manufacturing. Eden provides an Industrial IoT Solution unlike anything else on the market using blockchain verification and a decentralized core for security in a “zero-trust” environment.
The IoE Eden, Planet Partner Program is now open to apply to. If you operate a manufacturing facility, processing plant, or other massive data drive IoT installation, apply today and see what makes Eden different from everything else. We offer functionality, speed, efficiency, and minimized costs, so please apply today. A crew member will be in touch shortly to say hello and learn more about your manufacturing needs and where Eden can help solve the problems you have today.