Smart Manufacturing

These days, you can hardly have a technology conversation without talking about the Internet of Things (IoT). And when that conversation shifts its focus to the industrial sector, including energy, Oil & Gas, Power & Utilities, and petrochemicals, among others, the discussion changes to what is being called the “Industrial Internet of Things” (IIoT).

The IIoT is changing manufacturing as we know it. Factories and plants that are connected to the Internet are more efficient, productive and smarter than their non-connected counterparts. In this competitive marketplace companies that don’t take advantage of connectivity will be lagging behind. Market Analysts* predict that:

  • “The manufacturing, transportation and warehousing, and information sectors will invest the most in IoT systems and devices in the next five years, we estimate.
  • Manufacturers are currently the leading industry to use IoT devices and we estimate their total IoT investment will reach $140 billion over the next 5 years.”

Using sensors to monitor manufacturing equipment and environments is nothing new. But using those sensors to talk to other equipment and automatically feed data into plant and energy management applications is one of manufacturing’s newest frontiers.

There are many possible ways the IoT can benefit manufacturers. From product development to delivery and after-sales service, connected devices show the potential of huge advantages. There are three main areas of benefit for manufacturers associated with the IoT:

  1. The design, development, and manufacture of products.
  2. Tracking and improving products throughout their lifecycle.
  3. The management of the assets used in the process.

Impact Areas

So how does IoT impact manufacturing? Here are some key areas:

Enhanced quality
Applying analytics to the data as it streams off production equipment, sensors would allow manufacturers to sense and predict output variation. In a networked manufacturing environment (aka M2M), the machine can communicate its output variation to downstream equipment, which automatically makes adjustments to ensure the final product is within specifications.

Lowering operating costs
IoT is expected to lower operating costs for manufacturers through the implementation of new applications that will transform and automate the production process by monitoring and controlling performance and making corrective actions to improve efficiency. These costs apply to the maintenance and utilisation of production equipment and overhead costs relating to employees, performance and the Product Lifecycle Management (PLM).

Seamless data collection
Data collected from sensors and machines for analysis and application is stored securely in a cloud platform. This allows for greater flexibility and efficiency for companies to leverage this information and make it actionable for manufacturers who need to make more informed decisions in their processes and procedures.

Real time asset tracking
Remote tracking of machinery, vehicles and equipment contributes to greater uptime and availability. This minimises the impact of damaged and lost assets as they can be repaired or replaced in real time.

Smart maintenance
By servicing equipment only when needed, IoT can help increase operational efficiency and safety by monitoring and managing assets remotely and in line with suppliers. This improves asset performance by accelerating decision-making which in turn improves response times and reduces the number of service visits and repair costs.

Improved supply chain management
IoT allows you to collaborate and interconnect via the web with 3rd party business services in real time. Where an of end-of-life or faulty piece of equipment exists, IoT can trigger automation such as obtaining a new order/quote from asset supplier or book and receive maintenance quotes/invoices.

Closing Remarks

By leveraging IoT, factories and other companies in the industrial sector can become smarter, safer, more flexible, and more efficient. They can lower their operating costs and control quality of their products in real-time which in turns contributes to serving their end-customers cheaper and better.

Reference

* From Business Insider UK http://uk.businessinsider.com/the-enterprise-internet-of-things-market-2014-12?r=US#ixzz3UeHS86vh