How the Internet of Things benefits productivity on the factory floor


The manufacturing industry has been riding the wave of Industry 4.0 over the past decade, which is giving rise to it different techniques on factory floors. This Fourth Industrial Revolution was all about digital technologies and smart manufacturing systems. These technologies aim to greatly improve productivity by Reduce unplanned downtime and simplify operations. A central part of these systems that allow them to function is the Internet of Things – IoT.

Image credit: Alexander Littlewolf. freepik

Industrial Internet of Things

Industrial The Internet of things IIoT refers to the Internet of Things used in industrial environments. The Internet of Things is a network of different objects that transmit data to each other. IoT differs from everyday IoT because of its applications: While the usual IoT deals with daily tasks, IoT operates in a high definition environment with many risks around it. This requires the use of high-precision sensors and solid build quality.

Another big difference between the two is the focus area. The Internet of Things is about convenience, while the Internet of Things is about improving productivity by connecting assets in the production system.

Reduce downtime with PdM

Preventive maintenance (PdM) is a maintenance scheduling technology that allocates maintenance downtime by analyzing the condition of assets in a manufacturing plant. To do this, technicians must work with interconnected systems integrated with sensors that transmit asset data to a CMMS or EAM system. This infrastructure for moving data through the system is the Internet of Things.

PdM, made possible by IIoT, aims to reduce unplanned downtime to near zero. It uses real time, as well as historical asset data, to calculate the optimal time for their maintenance. Maintenance downtime helps the plant avoid breakdowns and unplanned downtime associated with reactive maintenance. Moreover, since the predictive technology only indicates downtime when the asset requires maintenance, there is no need to spend resources on regular preventive maintenance.

Predictive maintenance keeps the plant running and avoids machinery wear and tear. In short, it is a high-tech way to get the best of both worlds to improve plant productivity. It also keeps all the assets in top condition. With enough time and data for the algorithm to work on, a PdM can help a plant achieve the dream of all plant managers – nearly zero unplanned downtime. For any medium- or large-scale plant, the advantages of using PdM—as opposed to reactive or preventative maintenance—usually justify the investment in software and hardware required.

Accurate asset tracking

Manufacturing plants may have thousands to millions of assets in their inventories. The loss of a plant asset can cause a chain reaction affecting multiple departments. The manufacturer may lose valuable production hours and money searching for and replacing the defective original.

One good idea is to have a common registry of all assets. However, tracking the location of each asset 24/7 becomes difficult when dealing with such huge numbers.

IoT based asset tracking It is the perfect solution for any manufacturer dealing with extensive inventories. Multiple technologies such as Bluetooth, wi-fi, and cellular networks are used to track assets. Their operation depends on the accuracy and range required for a particular application. To reduce capital investment, factories can use a combination of IoT asset tracking for critical assets and barcodes for others.

One way to help CMMS/EAM locate assets is to use IoT-based asset tracking. This can reduce theft of assets and losses during transportation within the factory. In addition, production hours saved by avoiding searching for or replacing equipment can improve productivity. As IoT asset tracking provides real-time location of all assets—including workers—synchronization between workers also improves, making them more productive.

Inventory optimization

Inventory management and optimization is vital to the productivity of any factory. This includes tracking the locations of available assets, their prices, and time reordering. Poor inventory management can cause a factory to maintain excess or short stock of raw materials and goods. Low inventory means that the factory is not meeting demand, and high inventory means that the factory is wasting resources managing inventory while demand is low.

Industry 4.0 Technologies such as IIoT, data analytics, and AI/ML can contribute greatly to inventory management and optimization. For example, IIoT inventory tracking, combined with visualization tools in EAM/CMMS, can improve inventory visibility. IoT sensors can transmit manufacturing dates, best-before dates, and other product-related information — it helps paint a clearer picture for the manager. With this information, managers can decide which inventory to use first, what to scrap, and what to hold for a period of time. This enhanced visibility helps optimize inventory – which in turn keeps the plant productive and efficient.

Inventory optimization is also part of supply chain optimization, which deals with maintaining optimal stock levels across all locations. Reduces operating, transportation and warehousing costs Suppliers.

Safety brings productivity

You may have come across the assumption that plants must choose between safety and productivity. In fact, modern smart factories can be highly productive and have some of the safest facilities at the same time. Factory managers achieve this by using automation solutions, the Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence. The Internet of Things connects the various factory systems of Production control and safety. With the help of IoT, factory managers can get all the information in one place. They can then make important production decisions and make changes in real time in the event of an accident.

Gear sensors that track worker movement improve employee safety inside the plant. Sensors can warn workers that they have entered a high-risk area. Technicians can also program machines to turn themselves off when they detect humans in unsafe areas around them.

A safer workplace, with fewer accidents and injuries, can focus on productivity. Workers also improve productivity more if they don’t have to worry about unsafe working conditions.

Internet of things with big data

IIoT creates interconnected systems that cover entire stations—sometimes even connecting multiple stations. This huge digital infrastructure ensures that the assets generate massive amounts of data at all times. Unfortunately, most of this big data is not used, which is a great loss for the factory. On the other hand, data holds valuable insights into the production system, which can help improve factory efficiency and productivity.

IIoT collects data Inventory and supply chain management. This data can be used to forecast demand and calculate optimal inventory levels. In addition, engineers can identify and remove disturbances to improve productivity by analyzing data from different parts of the production system.

Furthermore, predictive maintenance software can provide data on the efficiency of various assets over time. This helps to get the most out of all assets; It also helps in making an informed decision about replacing or upgrading an asset. Data is gold for any industry today, and factories must get the most out of the data they produce to remain competitive.

The Internet of Things has become an essential part of production systems during the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The future of manufacturing lies in interconnected production systems that communicate using the Internet of Things. With the passage of time, technology will become a greater factor in industry and people’s daily lives. In the long run, trolley manufacturers have a greater chance of remaining competitive in the market.

Featured Image Credit: Kateryna Babayev; Pexels.com; Thank you!

Eric Whitley

For more than 30 years, Eric Whiteley has been a recognized leader in manufacturing. In addition to the many publications and articles Eric has written on various manufacturing topics, you may know him from his efforts leading the overall productivity maintenance effort at Autoliv ASP or from his participation in management degree programs at Ohio State University, where he served as an adjunct faculty member. After an extensive career as a reliability and business improvement consultant, Eric joined L2L, where he is currently the Director of Smart Manufacturing. His role in this position is to help clients learn and implement L2L’s hands-on, simple approach to corporate digital transformation. Eric lives with his wife of 35 years in northern Utah. When Eric is not working, he can usually be found on the water with a fishing rod in his hands.



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