Manufacturing units have always been prone to adopting newer technologies faster than any other sector. It is a simple case of making improving efficiencies and ensuring that they remain relevant to industry standards.
Now, thanks to a rapid reduction in the cost of computing power as well as the miniaturization of a number of technologies, manufacturing units all over the world are going through a phase of rapid IoT adoption. Consulting firm Accenture estimates that close to 33% of enterprises worldwide are already deploying IoT devices in their businesses with another 17% set to do so in the near future. More importantly, though, almost all the businesses polled believed that IoT will help improve their profitability.
Economic incentives will drive the adoption of IoT even more rapidly in the future because those that do not adapt to this technological jump will become obsolete. So, how will IoT help to manufacture?
No more blind spots
All supply chain managers complain about blind spots in their processes that they cannot monitor. Yes, RFID tags now allow easy location tracking, but there is so much more that can be achieved thanks to advanced sensor networks. It is now possible to know at what temperature, humidity, pressure and shocks the product has been exposed to, as well as the time for which it went beyond prescribed limits. Industries such as those dealing with food, perishable raw material or volatile chemicals lose a high percentage of their products to wastage simply due to errors in the way they are transported.
The information available from these sensor networks will help minimize these blind spots and even remove them completely from most cases. Easy to deploy analytical software that functions with a high degree of autonomous control is becoming standard industry practice. Having access to detailed information also allows businesses to share it with their customers if they want and provide hard data to back their claims.
Get on top of problems before they occur
One of the biggest causes for delays and losses in manufacturing is due to equipment breakdowns. It can be expensive and time-consuming to use human resources to check the functioning of the equipment regularly, especially in large scale industries. The answer lies in IoT sensors that make sure that the machinery is working within set parameters of temperature, pressure, vibration or anything else. These sensors ensure that any machine which is veering away from the normal is flagged immediately and looked at before major breakdown occurs.
These checks can be scheduled and planned in advance so that the work doesn’t suffer, helping minimize cost and loss of productivity. Repairing the damage itself is also much easier thanks to workers who have access to remote assistance and can receive live step by step instructions if needed.
Disrupting the supply chain
IoT will also help change the notion of the supply chain as we know it today. There was a time not too long ago when industrial parts could be notoriously difficult to get, required to be stocked preemptively and were expensive too.
Now, industries are keeping a 3D printer on site and actually making their parts until they can get replacements. Such a thing is a life saver for people who are working on remote and difficult to access locations. Or think about oil rigs or Antarctica expeditions. As the capability of these printers improves, IoT networks will be able to detect a problem, get the appropriate digital plans and have them printed out without much manual assistance.
The IoT juggernaut is unstoppable
One of the prime reasons why IoT is taking off so quickly is that the cost of sensors is coming down rapidly. This trend will continue to the point that they will almost become disposable. In such a scenario, the manufacturing will have no option but to get on board.