The Industrial Internet of Things has a huge and growing influence on the manufacturing industry, so much so that it wouldn’t be wrong to say that IoT is one of the main driving forces behind Industry 4.0.
It is driving such capabilities enabling unparalleled productivity, operational efficiency, and performance.
The article below explores the ways in which the manufacturing industry can use and benefit from the Internet of Things. It also explains how manufacturers can overcome some common challenges associated with connected devices.
IIoT: Basic Definition
The manufacturing industry involves producing a wide range of goods based on human skills and machine utilization. Recently, the manufacturing sector has been implementing various digital technologies that have given the industry new ways of enhancing production and supply chain management.
One of the technologies is smart manufacturing using the IIoT or Industrial Internet of Things.
It is a system of interconnected industrial assets, such as – equipment, machinery, warehouses, inventory, vehicles, shop floors, etc., with built-in software and sensors for data collection and exchange. Manufacturers can control their IoT-connected assets via a single IoT platform.
The reason behind the popularity of the Internet of Things in the manufacturing sector
IoT serves as a medium that integrates the physical and digital worlds. This kind of integration has penetrated all aspects of the manufacturing sector today.
It accelerates productivity, makes working conditions safer for employees, and minimizes downtime, thus providing a competitive edge for companies.
Today, 91% of enterprises are investing in smart manufacturing and IoT.
The economic impact of IoT on the manufacturing sector has been estimated to reach $11.1 trillion a year by 2025.
Industrial IoT is revolutionizing the manufacturing sector in many ways. Below are the top IIoT use cases in the manufacturing sector.
Real-time Asset Monitoring
With the help of IoT assets, manufacturing companies are connecting systems and machines to monitor their assets in real-time for reliability, compliance, and safety. This type of monitoring is heavily used in remote manufacturing, where sensors are used to track production processes to send status to the right personnel. Assets can be monitored and controlled remotely for enhanced production, operation; enabling proactive and timely manufacturing decisions. It also enables manufacturers to monitor their key equipment and final products; to sustain inventory and prevent quality issues.
Connected Operational Intelligence
By connecting equipment or machines, intelligent networks can be generated that coordinate and communicate with each other autonomously with little interference by human operators. Manufacturers can gather and contextualize data from remote manufacturing systems and assets into actionable applications. This allows them to gain insights into key performance indicators, enabling quicker problem identification to improve operational performance.
With connected devices, manufacturers also have real-time data visibility across assorted manufacturing systems, enabling them to manage factory units remotely.
Predictive Maintenance of Assets
Two major areas where lots of money is invested every year are machine operational and maintenance costs. With the help of predictive maintenance, manufacturers can detect downtime before it knocks and have a substantial decrease in operational costs. With the help of sensors, cameras, and data analytics, manufacturers can predict failure before it occurs. They can create strategic maintenance timelines with the help of this data, thus triggering better-planned maintenance processes, which promises huge cost savings, reduced equipment failure, and increased machine lifetime.
Benefits of IoT in Manufacturing
Today, several businesses are adopting IoT for their productions because they see definite advantages of implementing industrial IoT in manufacturing.
Energy and materials losses caused by downtime are some of the most significant expenses for manufacturing companies. IoT automates the entire process, which results in a considerable reduction of operational costs.
Optimized asset management and predictive maintenance, eliminates costly equipment and machinery failure and saves money.
Comprehensive data is very important for resource management and asset optimization. With the help of IoT-based sensors, valuable data can be gathered and distributed through robust networks in real-time, which facilitates decision-making.
With the help of IoT, direct communication between employees and network components is enabled, which enhances productivity.
Also, faster decision-making facilitated by readily available data contributes to improved response to market fluctuations.
With the help of IoT, equipment and machinery health is monitored while wearable devices monitor workers’ health in many plants and factories. This helps to create a more secure working environment and eliminate mishaps.
Higher Customer Satisfaction
Quality determines customer satisfaction and turns prospects into loyal clients. Connected devices enable predictive maintenance and statistical evaluations that help plan, innovate, build, design, operate, and maintain manufacturing facilities, resulting in improved product quality.
IoT devices also enable manufacturers to prevent the commercial distribution of defective goods, significantly enhancing customer satisfaction.
Challenges of IIoT Adoption
Despite there being so many benefits of IIoT in the manufacturing sector, some manufacturers are still holding back from adopting IIoT technology due to the following challenges:
This is one of the main concerns for IoT devices because data is transmitted between numerous nodes. Without proper security measures, manufacturers can become victims of hacking attacks. That is why manufacturers should prioritize security and safety to avoid intellectual property theft, data loss, or other intrusions.
- Industrial IoT gateway can help the existing device infrastructure to connect to any industrial infrastructure securely.
Using TPM (Trusted Perception Module), TTM (Trusted Terminal Module), and TNM (Trusted Network Module) can help overcome security issues.
As the smart factories are increasing in number, the skills gap among employees is growing wider. Smart technologies implemented in smart factories require qualified data scientists and specialists who understand new processes and manage them. As a result, 2.4 million manufacturing jobs may become vacant over the next decade due to the skills gap.
Training and skills development is the key to addressing this problem.
Seamless integration of all devices into a vast manufacturing infrastructure is another big challenge in IoT adoption.
Using intelligent solutions such as AI, machine learning, augmented reality, and 5G connectivity can help solve this problem.
IoT technology adoption and implementation is increasing at a rapid rate. This revolutionary technology has a huge potential to boost the availability of information and transform the manufacturing industry entirely. Manufacturing businesses – big and small are waking up to this new industrial revolution and trying to be a part of it. The key to being successful and safe while making the big switch is by learning more about these technologies and implementing a robust security strategy from the very beginning.