Gone are the days when a factory ran on pure sweat, grease, clipboards and manual time clocks. The internet and other technologies have dramatically changed the way that the manufacturing and industrial industries operate equipment, perform maintenance and communicate with their employees.
What Is IoT?
IoT, or the Internet of things, is a general term that describes any devices that communicate through a network. The term includes all the electronic components, fine-tuned sensors, Wi-Fi networks and other components that help you gather and organize data efficiently.
Currently, IoT is far past merely collecting data. Modern devices can use AI to create predictive models, analyze data and offer complex information to improve your overall productivity. One example is monitoring electrical meters throughout your plant. Instead of paying the full salary and benefits of an employee or team of employees to routinely monitor the meters, your IoT technology can provide you with round-the-clock information.
This not only helps you save on labor costs, IoT can also provide a more detailed result than a simple meter reading. Additional sensors could allow you to compare and contrast the electrical usage of every machine in your factory. Next, AI systems will gather the data, organize it on a spreadsheet that includes times of high electrical use and could even provide suggestions on ways to improve energy efficiency.
The History of Industrial IoT
If you’ve already realized how beneficial IoT capabilities would be in your industrial or manufacturing plant, you’re not alone. While IoT is being used in a variety of industries and even making its way into homes, it started out as an industrial tool for improved productivity.
Industrial manufacturing began when robotics and electronic controls were first introduced into the factory setting. Rather than a wide array of complex robotics working on their own, these systems were quickly synchronized in order to communicate more efficiently.
There are many benefits to using IoT in your industrial setting. Here are just a few ways that factories have improved since implementing industrial IoT:
- Safer workplaces
- Improved maintenance scheduling
- Streamlined manufacturing
- Increased tool tracking efficiency
- Improved performance in the field
Just like other areas of technology, industrial IoT has continued to advance dramatically in recent decades. The advent of AI technology and more advanced sensors have changed the way that industries can track devices, collect maintenance information and streamline manufacturing processes. Whether you operate a small business or a major corporation, here are a few ways you can benefit from an implementing IoT in your workplace.
Improved Preventative Maintenance
When a machine goes down, your maintenance team spends a significant amount of time simply diagnosing the issue. Even the most accomplished maintenance team must take the time to test a variety of possible issues before arriving at the correct solution. This translates into increased down time.
Instead, industrial IoT allows you to accurately track multiple parts within your machine. High-speed blades, rollers and precision sensors are all susceptible to breakdown. By tracking your precision components, you can enjoy these key maintenance benefits:
- Accurate preventative maintenance
- Improved diagnostic time
- Increased productivity
Sensors placed on key areas of your machinery are able to check on wear patterns, grinding gears or inefficient lubrication. Whether you manually adjust the controls or use a predictive AI system, you can receive warnings of low lubrication levels, damaged parts or components that are due for routine replacement.
Other IoT sensors can give you immediate feedback when a particular machine is damaged. A damaged tool holder, loose wire or seized gear will immediately show up on your IoT control device. Your maintenance team will be able to quickly find the part and replace it.
Keep your plant operating at peak efficiency with less downtime and more accurate preventative maintenance. Faster repairs and improved maintenance all lead to more time with efficient operation and decreased time spent in repairs. With accurate IoT data, you can keep up the status quo.
Manufacturing IoT provides innovative solutions for your manufacturing needs. Your entire manufacturing process can be improved with IoT sensors and analytics. Whether you’re already implementing some software in your manufacturing process or just considering going digital, here are a few ways that IoT can boost your manufacturing process.
First, every step of the process can be accurately tracked with IoT. From purchasing the raw materials to production, packaging and shipping, you’ll keep track of individual parts throughout the whole process. Keep your customers informed of the process and improve communication throughout the entire supply chain.
IoT sensors can also help you improve your profit margins. These sensors gather overall equipment effectiveness and equipment efficiency to help you increase your profits. Minor inefficiencies, over time, can dramatically increase your production costs.
Not only do IoT sensors and AI technology track your current progress, predictive models can help you budget accurately. From the minute a purchase order arrives you’ll be able to set a budget based on previous orders and predictive models of the operating costs, inventory needs and other expenses.
These are just the most obvious ways that IoT has been improving industrial and manufacturing needs. However, there are many other ways that your business can benefit from implementing IoT systems. Tool tracking, field service communication and other specialized performance areas can all be improved using IoT services.
Location Tracking Systems
One new way that manufacturing and industrial IoT has been changing the way companies operate is tool tracking. Location tracking software is dramatically decreasing in price and improving in accuracy, so many companies are implementing this technology to find tools.
Many maintenance and production teams operate with a wide range of tools. If you have any employees that have access to a wide range of tools or parts, you may be surprised with the amount of time wasted simply looking for the proper tool.
With an IoT location tracking system, your employees can quickly find the location of any required tool. Simply select the required tool from a control system, such as a smartphone or tablet, and the location tracking software will give your employee the exact location of the necessary part or tool. Not only does this improve maintenance time, it can also help you train new employees faster. Decreasing the learning curve of your maintenance department allows you to reach a wider range of potential employees and help them become experts in their position faster.
Synchronized Field Service
When out in the field, your employees need accurate data and responsive analytics to keep up-to-date. For example, a field maintenance worker can record a maintenance schedule in an algorithm that helps predict future maintenance. Or a sales team can keep up-to-date with the latest financial information and provide potential customers with an updated estimate for the costs and time required to fulfill any specialized order.
Safety is a critical part of any workplace. Whether your company handles hazardous waste, works in dangerous conditions or simply operates around heavy equipment, you need a way to prevent accidents and improve emergency response times.
IoT sensors and data tracking can monitor safety levels in any environment. From heart-rate monitoring of your employees to air quality monitoring, you’ll have instant access to vital data that can improve response times of medical services.
Integrated IoT technology can also be used to provide comprehensive security of your inventory, machinery and location. Tracking software, security cameras and restricted access to sensitive areas can all be managed easily in order to maximize the security of your company.
Leasing IoT Equipment
If you’re ready to try out industrial and manufacturing IoT in your workplace, you don’t have to invest in an entire system right away. A great way to start is by leasing the equipment necessary.
Leasing allows you to mitigate your risk by using monthly payments rather than a large upfront investment. Don’t tie up your working capital in a major technological overhaul, but invest monthly in an innovative system designed to start saving you time and money immediately.
Once you determine the best IoT setup for your specific industrial or manufacturing needs, it’s easy to purchase the equipment you need. Or continue to lease and enjoy continuous upgrades. As technology changes and new systems emerge, leasing gives you access to convenient upgrades as your lease runs out.
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