The Internet of Things (IoT) is a topic that has gotten a lot more awareness recently. It is being talked about on every platform and in every industry. But what is the Internet of Things exactly, and what does it have to do with manufacturing?
The IoT is defined as “the extension of Internet connectivity into physical devices and everyday objects. Embedded with electronics, these devices can communicate and interact with others over the internet, and they can be remotely monitored and controlled.” A good example of the Internet of Things is Amazon’s Alexa devices. These are physical objects that are connected to the internet, and they can be controlled with either your voice or your phone. If you purchase other Internet-enabled devices, such as the Philips Hue light bulb, then you can use your voice to turn on a light. The Alexa will take in your command, and use the internet to connect with the light bulb, and then turn it on. This is just one of the many ways the Internet of Things can be used. What about using it for manufacturing and supply chain applications?
When talking about the Internet of Things in the manufacturing space, it is referred to as the IIoT, or the Industrial Internet of Things. There are already some companies using the IIoT. For example, Windows has its own software to be used in devices embedded with IoT ability, and it’s called Windows IoT. General Electric has its own software called Predix that collects and analyzes data from machines. Our IMCO – CIMAG MES software also has this ability, using the CIMAG software and the ADAM module together to collect and analyze data. So what kind of applications does integrating IoT into manufacturing have?
When a factory has IoT enabled devices on their shop floor, they are able to collect a lot of data and analyze it in real-time:
- Machine health data
- Production speed
- Machine stoppage
- Resource consumption, such as labor, energy, and water
- Quality data
Collection of that data will allow you to:
- Schedule preventative maintenance activities at the appropriate time
- Determine what is slowing down your equipment’s performance
- Perform OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) analysis
- Accurately assess actual cost of manufacturing
- Perform SPC (Statistical Process Control)
- Generate meaningful KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators)
- Improve quality and avoid scrap and off grade products
In addition to collecting data, some IIoT devices are able to do some tasks on their own, such as schedule maintenance. Devices use a big number of data points to determine when a machine is going to need maintenance in the future; it can then create planned maintenance orders automatically, without any human input needed. These devices store vast quantities of data they have collected and use it to predict events that will occur in the future a lot more accurately than a human can.
Integrating smart manufacturing into your work place will increase productivity, product quality, and traceability, as well as decrease machine downtime.
Overall, the IoT has a lot of applications in the world. In the manufacturing space, developing IoT strategies could change the way production is carried out.
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