IoT in Manufacturing Sector — Importance of IIoT, Utilities and Use Cases
Technology has made its way in all industrial sectors and across all business verticals. Industrialization 4.0 has altered the way businesses operate. Today, leaders employ bots for customer service and software to conduct research and studies. We have apps that communicate the way we do and operations that trigger itself upon the occurrence of an event.
Sounds like human existence is threatened?
True that organizations and businesses are undergoing a massive change in their workforce but the goal remains augmenting technology to work with humans and not replace them. An excellent example of embedding technology to ease human jobs is IoT in manufacturing, or simply, in IIoT.
IoT or the technology of interconnectivity is all about manifesting digital tools and technologies to carry out mundane, repetitive tasks performed in the manufacturing industry. It has an array of sensors installed in pieces of equipment and other machinery to gather data and share it with the software to come up with relevant insights. This data is then used to simplify operations and make sound business decisions.
For instance, consider a sensor installed in the warehouse. This has the job of managing inventory. A threshold value is set for every product. As soon as the count falls below the threshold value, sensors send information to the software, apparently an application installed in the device of the concerned professional, notifying him/her about the falling stock. The personnel can then instruct the manufacturing team to pile up goods and stock their warehouse.
In the absence of such devices, you would need a dedicated person to keep track of the goods and manage it to meet the supply-demand ratio. Fascinating?
Now, this is just one instance. Embedding IoT in manufacturing has tremendous potential for innovation and growth and this article is specifically designed to educate you on the different use cases and benefits of IoT in the manufacturing industry.
IIoT Trends: Statistics & Figures
Before we set our foot on the different benefits and use cases of industrial IoT, let us scroll down few statistics penning the rapid acceptance of the technology by major leaders.
- The expected market size of manufacturing IoT is $994 billion by 2023. This is a massive increase, considering the $424 value in FY2016. (Source)
- Nearly 80% of the manufacturing industries today have IoT sensors embedded within their infrastructure or are in the planning process and soon to embed the same. (Source)
- 90% of the senior executives believe IoT to be the core for business success. (Source)
- 58% of the manufacturing leaders regard IoT to be a necessity for digital transformation. (Source)
- 40.2% of the overall IoT devices used worldwide are in the manufacturing or business industry. (Source)
Now that’s pretty huge. With more than 25 billion IoT devices, the potential of the technology is beyond expectations, and organizations are actively interested in deploying the solution to skyrocket their business’s operational efficiency.
Benefits of IIoT
Having said all of the above, it is obvious to be curious to know how does the technological benefits the manufacturing sector.
The need for automation and digitization has compelled business leaders to rethink their operations and here are four reasons why.
- The Need For Customization
Mass Customization is one of the fascinating trends of the decade. With the siloed infrastructure, mapping the needs of diverse customers is tough. Not to mention the mess it creates when demand overflows production.
IIoT has proven to be a game-changer. It helps organizations get into the ideology of real-time information and data extraction to accelerate the pace at which products are manufactured. Ideally, this makes the entire process of mass customization easy and accurate. Imagine having a product of variety X to be produced post Y. When you have a manual workforce, adhering to the needs and the inventory is tough and at times feasible. It becomes inefficient as varieties and quantities pile up and stock the warehouse.
Quite the contrary, an integrated and IoT driven infrastructure automates the above task, relieving the employee from the burdensome tasks.
- Improved Time to market
When you integrate the workforce, you will notice a healthy flow of information both in the upline and the downline. Data would be ready to be processed immediately and instantly. This saves the time taken to manufacture goods and share them on the product lifecycle. What’s more efficient is that this reduces the consumer wait time, cutting down the overall time to market. When customers obtain products within the said time, they are more likely to build trust and remain engaged for a longer period of time.
- Cost-effective Solution
Imagine a scenario where everything happening within the organization is organized, partially automated, and regularly monitored. The goods are produced timely and the consumer cycle never stops. Will the overall business benefit?
Of course, it does and not just in terms of the quality but also cost. When you have an interconnected system, everyone is bound to work at their best. There doesn’t ply any delay in production, manufacturing, and distribution. In fact, the cost associated is reduced and the business efficiency increased.
- Empower Employee Safety
When it comes to the manufacturing industry or the industrial sector, we talk about production lines, factories, and heavy equipment. Often, these work at extreme conditions, at high temperatures and therefore, are risky. A single mishap could cost your employees their life.
For instance, imagine a situation where a machine is running at a very high temperature. Suddenly, the machine stops working and so an employee visits the area to perform a check. This is fatal and largely, dangerous. Employing sensors and bots help automatically detect the temperature of the equipment and exercise caution when dealing with them. This is, in fact, one of the major reasons why manufacturing industries are so keen to embed IoT within their workforce.
Money stands second, it is their employee safety that compels them to integrate IoT devices and monitor leakages or temperature hike in equipment.
Use Cases of IIoT
While there are plenty of ways one can induce IoT in the manufacturing sector, we outline the two core use cases employed by the majority of industries worldwide.
- Monitoring Device Utilization
Have you ever experienced a situation where your equipment has run out of their efficiency just that you aren’t aware of the situation?
As a manufacturing industry leader, this is something you would have definitely experienced. Often, machines slow down in their performance and it is only after a considerable time that the management realizes it. This is where IoT comes to rescue.
The modern-day machinery is fixated with sensors and other equipment that drive information about the performance of the machine. Meaning that it outlines the volume of products made, the time taken in total/average, and the speed. All of these are regularly recorded and mapped into a system of software which then analyzes the performance and efficiency of the system.
Reports are generated and then shared with the leaders to take decisions. This way you can keep track of your equipment and monitor their utilization in real-time.
Put simply, it helps track the ideal running time of the devices and the usage to come up with insights that help increase the productivity of the same.
- Asset Tracking
Manufacturing the product is the first stage, next comes the task of shipping and tracking these assets. The modern-day goods have RFID tags attached to them. This helps the warehouse scan the products and maintain the count of the goods added or dispatched from a particular place.
Earlier, manufacturing industries have to employ human personal that would track and maintain assets. This consumed a lot of time and was prone to errors. Replacing this manual job with sensors and tags eliminate the room for errors, making the system efficient and productive.
To top this, the asset tracking use case also facilitates the inception of GPS technology to promote live tracking of goods, giving users the ease to know and predict the delivery timeline. Not only does this enhance the value driven by organizations but also account for continuous monitoring, boosting customer trust.
Driving the era of connectivity, Internet of Things has proven to restructure the entire manufacturing sector. It is apparently not a choice but a necessity for every organization. With each day passing, technologies are evolving and organizations that plan to delay the adoption would soon turn obsolete. In order to remain competitive and gain an edge within the industry, manifesting digital tools is a must and IoT hails as one of the best to start with.