IoT stands for ‘The Internet of Things” and is actually a pretty straightforward concept. It means taking all the things in the world and connecting them to the internet. There is an assumption that this is a complicated and difficult concept, but due to being so loosely defined, it’s pretty simple.
There are many benefits to having “things” connected to the internet. When something is connected to the internet, that means it can send information and/or receive information. This is a smart ability for a device, which is where technology is moving. Take smartphones as an example. You can listen to almost any song in the world via your smartphone, but it’s not due to your phone actually having every song stored on it — it’s because every song in the world is stored somewhere on the internet, and your smartphone can send information (asking for the song) and then receive information back (by streaming or downloading a song).
In the IoT, all things that are being connected to the internet can be broken up into three categories of things that:
- Collect information and then send it
- Receive information and then act on it
- Things that do both
And all three of these factors have benefits that feed off each other.
IoT provides businesses and consumers a better look into environments that live beyond the reach of the internet. And this allows both groups (business and consumer) to be more connected to the world around and to do more meaningful work.
How IoT Plays A Role in Manufacturing
Research shows that nine out of ten people in the U.S own at least one smart device and nearly 70 percent use a voice-controlled system. Interestingly enough, IoT has found it’s spot within the world of manufacturing technology. Over the last few years, IoT has driven process improvements in industries such as retail, logistics, and manufacturing. Manufacturing, in particular, has seen significant efficiencies & cost-savings that have actually been passed along to consumers.
As IoT continues to change and grow, operational processes have also become connected, creating improvements throughout organizations and lessening processes that stop efficiencies.
In an effort to improve processes, drive automation, and fuel business growth, manufacturing companies have started to implement IoT technologies in almost all systems.
One example is machine monitoring, which enables preventative maintenance and helps in predicting a possible breakdown. This is a proactive approach vs a reactive one and it allows managers to focus on larger-value activities & act immediately as the need arises.
When a machine is slowing down or even malfunctioning, IoT can detect it and send alerts to the control panel. From there, maintenance can be scheduled and expensive breakdowns or downtime is therefore reduced. This is a powerful forecasting tool and helps managers plan for the future.
Here are some other ways that IoT seamlessly fits into manufacturers efficiency and provides monetary savings over time:
- Field services + asset tracking: IoT tracks assets, vehicles, and personnel in the factory or the field, providing a critical benefit for manufacturers who are also service providers while enabling greater profitability.
- Facility management: From health & safety to security and energy optimization, IoT is now at the core of building management.
- Real-time data: Factory floor or a finance department, technology is driving process improvements from all ends. Sensors provide real-time insights into each process and are then translated into data that can be used to make improvements.
- IoT and ERP: IoT sensors track and monitor processes such as inventory, machine operation, logistics, and human capital. Data is shared with the ERP, resulting in an accurate snapshot of the state of the business at any given time. Leveraging automation and artificial intelligence, human error is reduced, and tasks are completed with greater expedience.
- Logistics management: IoT in logistics helps manufacturers manage the supply chain more efficiently. Whether it’s for a factory, warehouse, or for the end-user, it helps reduce loss and improves the bottom line.
- Better customer satisfaction: Optimized processes create more efficient operations and an overall reduction in the cost of manufacturing & delivering products.
IoT in manufacturing has pushed forward a new wave of productivity and therefore profitability. It allows manufacturers to focus on the work instead of being concerned about the condition of the equipment. This further increases productivity and efficiency.