IIoT in 5 minutes for manufacturers

The industrial internet of things helps build connected factories that offer several advantages to manufacturers
14 August 2018

Businesses must try to understand IIoT before using it to their advantage. Source: Shutterstock

Manufacturing units are complex and require a lot of planning and analytics in order to get things running smoothly. And yet, there are unexpected delays and challenges that arise on a daily basis, many of which are purely operational.

However, uncertainty represents increased costs and inefficiencies, and in today’s competitive world of business, they can quickly make a dent in the margins of manufacturers.

Luckily, with new and emerging technologies, the factory can be upgraded into living breathing organisms – generating data in real time, offering insights about current and future performance, and creating an incredibly proactive management environment.

Building such factories requires embedding factory equipment and tools with sensors, and connecting them together through a digital mesh that is the industrial internet of things (IIoT).

IIoT-powered factories are also called connected factories and they offer several benefits to manufacturers.

# 1 | Real-time data and insights

When all your machines and tools have sensors embedded in them, you’re able to understand the performance of every piece of equipment you have, and how they’re used by your workers.

As a result, you can gain insights into productivity and performance, in real-time. Are some of the machines making your workers slow, or do workers struggle to operate some of your equipment? Do people need to be trained to be more efficient? In a ‘connected factory’, you have the data you need to optimize everything – at your fingertips.

# 2 | Predictive maintenance 

When you’re tuned into your machines and constantly receiving data about their performance, it’s easy for you to plug that data into a model and estimate the life of your machines and when they’ll need maintenance.

As a result, you’ll be able to find the right time to repair and service equipment (ideally outside of regular working hours) which will help you prevent downtime in your factory.

# 3 | Tactical location benefits

When everything in your factory is connected via a digital mesh, it’s easy to track tools that are left unattended.

At the end of the day, in practical situations, tools and equipment must serve the workers. If they’re able to focus on their job and not worry about losing track of items issued to them for use, they’ll be much more productive.

# 4 | Paving the way for automation

One of the most important steps to (complete or near-complete) automation in a factory is the building of a digital mesh and a connected environment.

That’s the first step to automating tasks as businesses can pick out what functions are most challenging and time-consuming and tackle them first, then move on to others, slowly automating the entire factory.

# 5 | Providing client insights

One of the most important benefits of building a ‘connected factory’ is being able to provide clients with API access to certain aspects of your production process, helping them track their order in real-time.

Clients can benefit from such insights as it can help them better plan and manage their own production process – and for manufacturers that offer such capabilities, it is easier to forge a strong relationship with the client.