IoT in Digital Manufacturing
Manufacturing goes digital
Like many sectors that are currently being disrupted by the tech revolution, manufacturing, too, is going through a digital transformation, adopting new ideas, concepts, and gadgets. In this sector, having a constant, detailed overview of the state of production machinery, raw materials and output readiness, is paramount to their effective management. This data can be readily supplied by smart sensing devices that are often collectively referred to as the Internet of Things, or IoT. IoT devices like sensors, actuators, and chips are part of smart factory infrastructure that allows modern manufacturers to capture, record, and analyze critical information about production assets and resources.
Use cases for IoT in digital manufacturing
IoT systems play a significant role in manufacturing environments and processes, whether they function as stand-alone devices or are embedded in complex robotic machinery. The principal function of IoT in smart factories is the sensing, capturing and storing of various data, ranging from simple temperature settings to more complex mechanical engineering KPIs. As of 2020, four out of five manufacturing companies have already adopted IoT devices or are considering adding them to their production processes.
The most exciting part of adopting IoT in your factory, is certainly the availability of copious amounts of data about every event or incident that takes place on the production floor – nothing remains hidden or overlooked anymore. In this line of thought, implementing sensing systems can transform not only your manufacturing processes but also your production-related operations, including logistics, inventory management, facility and energy management. Next, let’s look at some of the key applications of IoT in manufacturing and production facilities.
Predictive asset maintenance and condition monitoring
IoT lets companies feel the pulse of their factories, so to speak – helping them stay proactive and on top of production schedules, environments, and resources. One top challenge that many manufacturing companies are faced with daily remains production downtime (halt) due to machinery failures. The consequences of such unplanned failures are far-reaching and can be detrimental to the success of a factory, if not addressed in time.
Engaging in predictive asset maintenance translates into having full control over key assets and means that virtually no asset can ever go out of production unplanned. Asset condition monitoring and timely asset maintenance ensure virtually zero production downtimes, gaps and bottlenecks – ultimately leading to higher output and ROI. Most manufacturing organizations in 2020 have not yet implemented such systems and processes in their facilities, thus missing out on a crucial optimization that can make a sizeable difference to their results.
Unforeseen production challenges
Aside from asset failure, another common challenge for manufacturing organizations has to do with production challenges of unpredictable nature, which can often lead to unplanned costs, delayed production schedules, and missed contractual obligations such as deadlines. The fickleness of such issues makes them especially risky and their consequences can be far-reaching, both financially and logistically.
Trend analysis with AI
In addition to predictive asset maintenance and condition monitoring, machine learning models and AI can be used to analyze post-failure IoT data, allowing manufacturing organizations to understand the conditions or trends leading to unforeseen production halts. This can, in turn, help them prepare better in the future.
Potential of IoT in manufacturing
Manufacturing is being transformed by the rapid speed of digitization and the adoption of emerging technologies. Both need to be carefully planned and carried out to ensure a successful implementation into the production environment. In addition, a solid data management and analysis strategy should be in place so that data can be properly collected, stored, and processed. Without the latter, the vast amounts of data being collected by smart manufacturing devices would be meaningless.
Adopting IoT solutions in factories can transform them for the better, minimizing production failures and downtimes and increasing accuracy and timeline adherence. By embracing predictive maintenance, condition monitoring, and trend analysis, smart factories can optimize production processes at all levels and gain a competitive edge over old-fashioned, reactive environments.
Developing the right IoT solutions for your factory
The software part of an IoT solution is just as important and probably even more important than the hardware part. Without robust apps and visualizations, production and plant supervisors can’t really be sure that the data they’re being presented with is accurate or complete and would be hard-pressed to extract any intelligence from it. Thus, finding a reliable and experienced software development partner to work with in the long run, is crucial. Verhaert Digital has extensive experience with developing IoT solutions for manufacturing companies; we’d be happy to collaborate with you on yours.