How Leveraging The Internet Of Things for Manufacturing Can Be A Game Changer
The Internet of Things is at the forefront of a second Industrial Revolution. By adding online connectivity to manufacturing machinery, managers can more efficiently track workflow productivity, safety, and equipment maintenance. In this article from Forbes, IoT-enabled manufacturing empowers companies to leverage technology to work with—instead of replace—human workers.
You may be aware how tech companies, particularly Amazon, are transforming store shelves worldwide by combining the digital aspects of their online store with easy pickup. How literally, shoppers can just purchase items with the click of the mouse and pick them up in stores without waiting in huge lines. You may also be aware of various delivery methods, such as drones making headway in this regard. However, it isn’t just shopping that is becoming digitized or innovative, but the whole process of manufacturing is as well. Manufacturing is a hot topic because it has been a scourge of debate among politicians around the world with local jobs being outsourced in favor of cheap labor overseas and technological innovations “taking over jobs” so to speak.
Technology has always been a part of the evolution of manufacturing however if we look back at its history. Ever since the Industrial Revolution in England, with steam power becoming a game changer of the period, and driving companies to look for faster and more efficient way to manufacture products. This race for the best solutions in order to stay competitive and efficient, has continued to this day. Looking to leverage the latest technological solutions in the manufacturing process has allowed companies of various sizes to thrive and compete in the global market. It is in any company’s best interest and competitive advantage to choose the most efficient and productive way to produce goods. Companies can be left behind the curve when simply relying on traditional or outdated methods, rather than take advantage of newer technologies.
Manufacturing isn’t just based on companies owning capital (equipment) and hiring labor (workers) to work in plants anymore. Today, it involves being able to deliver the most competitive products from plants around the world to the right customer base through smart business procedures and good business intelligence (BI). This BI and data analytics can be gathered through the use of IoT services offered by various enterprises and leveraged for efficiency and competitive advantage against rival firms. This is in addition to IoT services allowing companies to take advantage of more efficient procedures within their own plants.
The Internet of Things (IoT), or what may be referred to as Industry 4.0, can improve all aspects of the manufacturing process. Employees can focus on their strengths, which is labor, while connected algorithms in the background can monitor equipment, improve workflow efficiency, provide safe-checks in place in case of equipment failure, early maintenance checks, and much more. Robotics, 3D printing, augmented reality, collaboration between machines and plants and much more.
Some examples of the way IoT for manufacturing can be utilized are adding online connectivity to machines and hardware; remotely monitoring and sharing of data on manufacturing equipment; using sensors for field service scheduling; as well as data collecting systems in play for equipment and workforce. This will not only make equipment and systems in plants longer lasting, but the hardware stay more efficient as well. Industry 4.0 leverages the power of cloud computing, big data and even machine learning (AI) in the case of Watson IoT, for instance, in order to find the best possible solutions to the whole manufacturing process.
Manufacturing generates huge amounts of data. There are various ways a company can choose to manufacture its products from the amount of employees hired, to the equipment used, to the location of the plant. These and many other examples shows how important gathering and analyzing data can be for a company’s bottom line. It is in a company’s best interest to have this data on hand and being able to analyze it before choosing their next plant location among many other potential investments. This is where IoT also comes in.
Meeting the demand of goods with supply is a tricky process that involves a lot of insight, data analysis, business intelligence and predictive analysis. For instance, how much of a product should a company manufacture for a given market that the company hasn’t expanded its products onto? The demand may be high now, but will it be in the long run a good investment to focus on a particular product? These are all questions that today’s IoT can help to answer where technology can be used advantageously.
According to an in-depth graphical presentation by Semi, called The Relevance of IoT and Big Data Analytics in Semiconductor Manufacturing, Intel has managed to really modernize its manufacturing process and this is particularly the case with the way it is leveraging IoT processes for data gathering and analytics.
“With billions invested in semiconductor process equipment, the Internet of Things (IoT) is leveraged to reduce capital costs, increase quality and improve time to market,” according to one of the presentation’s slides.
The presentation details how Intel has totally revamped its processes and utilizes IoT for all aspects of its manufacturing processing. For example, Intel uses preventive measures through IoT by monitoring relay performance in order to predict oven coil failures before they occur and address the issue preemptively. In its semiconductor plants of today, Intel is leveraging IoT for machine learning or AI, keeping statistics and warehousing big data, integrating tools for big data analytics, such as Hadoop, and much more.
Knowing what the supply and demand is of a product has always been a tricky process on any market business intelligence or economic policy and this ties to how much of a good to produce and what to price it at.
According DMW’s coverage on multichannel inventory management, “Having goods on hand is common sense. The tricky part is knowing how much inventory to have on hand. Stock too much and the goods don’t move fast enough. The price spoils. Have too little and a frustrated shopper will go elsewhere.”
The economists call this the supply and demand curve, and it should be met for the price point to be optimal for a company’s bottom line. When the price is optimal with supply and demand point, it is said to be at its peak point and profits to be at premium because enough product will be moved to offset whatever the marginal costs are or however low the returns end up being. However, predicting the volume of manufactured goods needed for different regions of the world is only one of many aspects that IoT could be leveraged in.
When it comes to the actual manufacturing process at various levels, leveraging IoT solutions may enable a company to more efficiently locate and monitor inventory, connect factory assets and ERP/MES systems in order to offer augmented reality views for work instructions delivery, monitoring assets in real-time, operational intelligence for real-time visibility of KPIs. IoT solutions can be leveraged for a wide range of purposes when it comes to manufacturing as well as affect all aspects and levels of the manufacturing process.