The world of manufacturing has come a long way. From factories primarily filled with human workers to machinery now run by automation, the industrial manufacturing world looks a lot different when compared to the 20th Century. While automation, AI, and machine-learning are welcome changes to the world of industrial factories, another recent innovation could make industrial factory work move a lot smoother.
Today’s companies thrive on data and the sharing of information over the cloud. If anyone can benefit from this shift, it is factory owners. Industrial machinery can give owners the information they need when they are connected to a network that supports cloud-based IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things). Today, many owners are taking the plunge and adding sensors and chips to factory equipment to collect and analyze data on the IIoT quickly. While this innovation is still developing, below are five ways that businesses are using IIoT to further their factory goals.
1. Saving Time (and Money)
Even in a moderately sized factory, it is almost impossible to manage the logistics of machinery adequately. When should devices and machines turn on? How long will they run for the day? When will they turn off? If a factory is using hundreds of tools, this task becomes an arduous one. With the IIoT, companies can now mage the operational times of machinery on the cloud. This not only saves time, but it also reduces energy costs. Being able to automate the process of switching on/off machinery also decreases labor expenses, as an employee might have to handle this otherwise.
2. Reduce Production Times
Deadlines and production schedules are always on the minds of factory owners and workers. An example of a benefit of IIoT comes from Aveva’s ERM Solution. The company’s IIoT offering allowed Oceane shipyard to create an integrated schedule to produce ships in a timely fashion while still maintaining quality. The IIoT software expertly enabled all departments to work together seamlessly to prevent silos. Customers are looking for faster service as well as quality, and the only way factories can do this is with a bit of help from automation. Owners have a lot more control over how they could plan and control processes.
3. Stay Current on Repairs
Factory owners can save a lot of money (and headache) if they can monitor the wear and tear of their equipment. How many units have been produced by a piece of machinery? How close is it to the limit? IIoT software can help factory owners adequately answer these questions. An excellent example of a company that has started to incorporate predictive analytics to track the health of its equipment is Caterpillar, Inc. The company entered into a minority investment with Uptake, an industrial analytics company, so Caterpillar customers can monitor machines for repairs and optimize machine availability. This action would almost be impossible without the convenience of data tracking, and the automation IIoT solutions provide.
4. Keep a Handle on Inventory
Companies have to keep a handle on how much inventory they are using and when they need to make orders for more to keep everything running smoothly. This especially goes for those in the transportation sphere where producing machinery on time plays a huge role. A shortage can easily spell doom. Boeing understands this and has implemented its IIoT application known as Tapestry. Boeing knows they have to fulfill orders in a timely fashion while still maintaining quality, and its newest IIoT program has helped the company to deliver on this expectation. Tapestry allows Boeing to automate asset tracking, and replenish materials in the assembly process. This process enables Boeing to stay on top of inventory to prevent potential delays.
5. Aid in Machine-Learning
Many companies are interested in using robots to speed up organizational procedures. However, one of the most substantial barriers to this occurring is the limitations of robots to critically think through processes in a similar matter to their human counterparts. This is where the IIoT comes into play. Limtronik, an SME electronic supplier, has further developed the idea of a “Smart Electronic Factory.”The company has emphasized implementing software solutions that allow devices to learn from errors, correct themselves, and use what they have learned to produce goods independently by using intelligent algorithms.
For factories, today’s stakes are a lot higher than in the past. We live in a world where customers can order a good and have it delivered within the hour. People want quality items in a timely fashion more than ever, and this has caused factory owners to figure out a way to accomplish this task.
The IIoT enables factories to prevent slowdowns by monitoring the health of machines, streamlining operational processes, and enhancing the machine-learning of automated machines to reduce mistakes. All of these advances center around data and the importance of regularly collecting and analyzing it. As factory staff continues to push the envelope on how effectively they can connect all machines and devices, the rate at which data can be attained is likely to continue to improve as customer expectations will continue to grow.
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