We have come a long way since the industrial revolution. Trends and fads have come and gone, markets have risen and fallen, but one constant remain -manufacturing. No matter how advanced we become technologically, we will always need a factory to produce the products we consume. With that being said, technology can work in unexpected ways to improve the manufacturing process. In fact, technology can go beyond merely improving manufacturing and revolutionize it. While the industrial revolution increased efficiencies to new levels, the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) has taken production to an entirely new plane.
A Manufacturer’s New Best Friend
What is the most valuable asset that Google and Facebook own? Data. They own swaths of our data that they use in many ways to offer services and products. The reality of our times is that we live in a world where data is at the heart of most business dealings. Businesses ranging from supermarkets to enclosed belt conveyors manufacturer can now track most of their consumer’s actions and make critical decisions based off of these findings.
Data is also changing the way that manufacturing works. Manufacturing has always used data to improve processes and make needed changes. But this isn’t your grandfather’s data. Today’s data is real time, and you can now learn nearly instantly how your equipment is functioning or if your shipping department is working as efficiently as they should.
What the Doctor Prescribed
Do you have a particular machine or area of your plant that consistently gives you issues or slows your process? The answer might be to find ways in which you can obtain data from them. By learning in detail what the reality is, you will be free to make changes or improvements to ensure your systems are running as efficiently as possible. You might also discover that a particular section of your assembly is not causing the issues you initially suspected. Using IoT can assist you in making decisions based on facts and not speculation. Consider investing in Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) which connect your machines to systems like ERPs. While the initial expenditure might be high, the long-term savings will more than offset the expense.
Another critical aspect of the IoT is its ability to prevent dangerous issues. Installing sensors in equipment that measure and alert when levels fall outside of setting parameters can potentially save manufacturers a lot of money. These sensors work similarly to water sensors that many home security systems offer. The sensors are configured to continually monitor changes in humidity that might indicate potential flooding in the house. The same concept can be used for critical pieces of equipment that might be able to identify activity that falls outside of the norm that could damage expensive equipment or cause lost revenue by delaying production.
It is imperative to remember that IoT will likely not be used in the same way by two separate plants. Be sure to analyze your manufacturing processes to decide best on which IoT equipment will best suit your needs. It is also important to always keep in mind that this is not a silver bullet and will likely not solve all your problems. It is, however, a rational and precise way to assess how your plant is functioning, which in many cases will improve outcomes. What is abundantly clear is that the way we used to manufacture might be on its way out and it will be replaced by highly efficient IoT systems that will make plants function at unparalleled levels of efficiency.