IIoT and manufacturing
We have heard a lot on the Internet-of-things or consumer IoT and less on Industrial Internet or IIoT and fairly so, as consumer IoT has far more applications that are used and experienced by people, smart refrigerator for example. But IIoT is not far behind as it has begun to permeate into the industrial segment and is finding many users and adopters.
The concept of manufacturing is a pre-defined set of processes or stages orchestrated through various protocols and guidelines. Any defect at any stage will cause disruption in the manufacturing cycle and influence the final production outcome. The response to and rectification of such defects or disruptions is an exhaustive task in itself thanks to excessive amount of time, efforts and human intervention involved. This is where IIoT plays a key role – it ensures manufacturers save on time and efforts while human intervention is greatly reduced.
The Industrial Internet-of-Things is a multitude of smart connected devices and software solutions that collect, segregate and analyze data and provide meaningful insights that when actioned result in much more efficient manufacturing operations and higher productivity
Key Areas influenced by IIoT
Without doubt, IIoT has a positive impact across the entire manufacturing value chain but there are a few areas that have embraced IIoT far more than others.
Let’s understand what these are –
Operations: Operations is the central phase of manufacturing, it is where ‘’things get going’’ to ensure timely production. IIoT influences the Manufacturing operations Management (MoM) via – asset management and optimization, planning and monitoring of operations, optimization of human-machine interaction and overall performance. The connected devices (IoT) in the operations cycle ensure greater visibility and control leading to an effective operations cycle.
Not surprisingly, operations are among the biggest areas for IoT investments from top management point of view.
Asset Management: Assets are integral components of manufacturing process which need to be tracked, monitored and protected to avoid breakdowns and ensure extended asset life. IIoT plays a significant role in asset maintenance and management by providing proactive alerts and information on asset status through data gathered via sensors. A breakdown in any asset will lead to either stalling or halting of production process resulting in a chain reaction that would affect logistics and transportation, and no company would want this. IIoT ensures smoother production process through proper and dedicated asset management process.
Warehouse Management: Though, warehouse management is a post-production area, it is verily connected to manufacturing. IoT devices embedded with sensors and actuators help to monitor, control and streamline warehousing tasks that results in optimum utilization of warehouse space. The devices also help detect any anomalies in stock keeping and stock counting.
Security and Safety: Perhaps, the most essential aspects of any manufacturing process – Safety and Security are of paramount importance and cannot be compromised on at any time. IIoT plays a key role in the security aspects of assets (production stage), products (warehouse stage) and vehicles (transportation stage) and of course, plant staff at every stage of the process.
Providing Value proposition
IIoT is changing the face of manufacturing sector for the better and stakeholders including device maker, software solutions provider and end user (Industrial and manufacturing companies) can no longer afford to work in silos. The device maker is no longer just a seller; he needs to move beyond device selling and service to device intelligence. For that, the device maker needs to actively collaborate with the software solutions provider (or institute a software solutions wing) and create a seamless smart device ecosystem.
Extended role of device maker
This new smart device ecosystem helps device makers (and service providers) to have better visibility and control over the device ensuring device effectiveness; the maker can quickly recognize and reset the device in case of an issue. This smart device ecosystem also helps in – faster damage detection, quicker turnaround and better asset utilization resulting in a greater value proposition to both maker and user.
Extended benefits to end user
From the manufacturing company’s point of view this smart device ecosystem eliminates the need to have a separate team to monitor and appraise on the working of devices. Instead, the manufacturing company can have its plant managers take inputs and insights through data analytics and streamline their respective operational processes. The company benefits both through efficient operations and resource optimization here.
Data and Insights through IIoT
The amount of data collected through several connected devices spread across the manufacturing facilities provides companies enough information on – when, how and what to do as far as operations are concerned. Data when gathered and organized will throw up actionable insights which can then be used by plant managers and supervisors to boost up processes and systems. This leads to enhancement in operations and production resulting in costs savings and reduced human interventions.
IIoT will boost efficiency of manufacturing cycle through quicker threat detections, turnarounds, better asset utilization, and faster time-to-market. This will result in seamless and more efficient operations.
We are looking at a future that will see the grand intersection of People, Processes, Data and Machines – all working together to ensure streamlined operations, greater productivity and higher revenues. IIoT, in the time to come will create a more value oriented and result driven manufacturing ecosystem across industries.