April 22, 2024
Iot In Manufacturing

IoT Revolutionizing Manufacturing: Building the Intelligent Factory of Tomorrow

IoT Enabling Intelligent Factories

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is radically transforming factory operations around the world. Connecting machines, assets and systems to digital networks is enabling manufacturers to gain valuable insights and optimize processes like never before. Wide adoption of IoT technologies in manufacturing is ushering in a new era of what is being called the “intelligent factory”.

Manufacturing has always relied on machines, but now these machines can communicate with each other and exchange data over wireless networks in real-time. Using sensors, edge devices and analytics, manufacturers are able to remotely monitor production lines, track inventory and streamline maintenance tasks. This level of digital connectivity and visibility inside factories is empowering organizations to boost productivity, quality and flexibility.

Real-time Equipment Monitoring for Predictive Maintenance

One of the major applications of IoT in manufacturing is predictive maintenance of equipment and machinery. Sensors attached to motors, pumps and other mechanical components gather operating data points like vibration, temperature and humidity levels. This machine generated data is then analyzed using analytics tools to detect early signs of potential breakdowns or malfunctions.

Predictive maintenance through Iot In Manufacturing to schedule repairs in advance instead of waiting for full breakdowns to occur. This helps reduce unplanned downtime of critical assets dramatically. Resources can also be deployed more efficiently for planned servicing as repairs are no longer reactive. Overall equipment effectiveness goes up as equipment uptime improves with IoT driven predictive maintenance programs. Leading manufacturers report maintenance cost savings of up to 30% with IoT implementations.

Big Data Analytics Fuelling Process Optimization

IoT generates massive amounts of machine and process data from connected assets on the shopfloor. Manufacturers are leveraging this industrial big data through analytics to optimize workflows, streamline changeovers and improve quality control measures. Advanced algorithms can detect production bottlenecks, uncover inefficiencies and recommend control parameter adjustments in real-time.

Data-driven process optimization is helping reduce cycle times, minimize waste and rework. Production schedules can also be adjusted dynamically based on real demand patterns. For example, if sales of a particular product variant surge suddenly, IoT enabled flexible manufacturing lines can autonomously reconfigure to start prioritizing its production. This kind of demand-driven flexibility was not possible with traditional automation systems.

Inventory and Logistics Visibility via RFID

Another major productivity boost coming from Iot In Manufacturing implementations is enhanced inventory and logistics visibility across manufacturing sites and extended supply chains. Technologies like radio-frequency identification (RFID) tagging of raw materials, work-in-progress and finished goods is giving manufacturers unprecedented oversight into movements and storage of physical items.

RFID powered tracking systems can pinpoint the exact location of any item on the factory floor or in warehouses in real-time. This eliminates manual checking and makes inventory counts more accurate. Issues of stockouts, obsolete stock and expired items have also reduced drastically. Manufacturers are better equipped now to fulfill orders promptly while avoiding unnecessary costs of overstocking with IoT driven transparency in inventory and logistics chains.

Augmented Reality for employee training and task guidance

Augmented reality (AR) overlays digital information onto the real physical world seen through transparent displays like smart glasses and helmets. In manufacturing, AR has tremendous potential to guide workers through complex assembly tasks and equipment operations. Instructions and checklists can be visually displayed to workers performing production or quality checks.

Advanced manufacturers like Boeing are piloting AR applications that project 3D wiring diagrams and assembly sequences onto augmented reality smart glasses worn by technicians. This allows for hands-free guidance and eliminates errors arising from misunderstanding written work instructions. AR is particularly useful for training new hires on equipment usage with simulated environments and virtual on-job learning experiences. Overall, AR is finding applications for improving workforce skills, enhancing operational efficiency, and minimizing defects and reworks in manufacturing plants going digital with IoT.

Cybersecurity Top Priority as Production Networks Get Connected

While the benefits of IIoT connectivity are immense, securing these new digital manufacturing networks from cyberattacks is a key challenge for industries. Vulnerabilities in IoT devices or weakness in network architecture can potentially disrupt production or even endanger physical safety in some cases. Manufacturers will need robust infrastructures in place to protect programmable logic controllers, HMIs, edge gateways and cloud platforms involved in their “smart” factories.

Strong authentication and authorization protocols, regular patching of systems, device tamper detection are some steps needed for manufacturers to secure their networked production environments from cyberthreats. Only with proper focus on cybersecurity can industries fully leverage IoT technologies without worrying about risks of data theft, intellectual property loss, ransomware infections crippling operations or even physical hazards in “lights out” automation scenarios. Overall cyber-resilience is becoming mission critical for manufacturers engaged in their digital transformations with Industrial IoT connectivity.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it