Rebounding from dips in consumer spending to the post-pandemic surge in demand is catching many manufacturers “flat-footed.” The Wall Street Journal reports that, while consumer spending on long-lasting goods rose 6.4% in the U.S. in 2020, production of those goods fell 8.4%. What will come to the aid of frazzled manufacturers in the coming months? A digital thread that provides end-to-end connectivity is becoming a reality.
The interconnectivity of devices, equipment and all corresponding operations provided by the Internet of Things (IoT) is taking over manufacturing operations today, and it’s playing a transformational role in industries around the world. This is critical as our global economy navigates the imminent post-recession surge in consumer spending coupled with historic labor shortages.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), then, is the application of connected IoT in factories and process facilities that introduces a new level of efficiency, reliability and performance. It operates on the concept of feedback loops through which the heartbeats of machines, equipment and production systems continually flow back through the complex systems and processes that produce manufactured products. The IIoT can offer manufacturers new business opportunities, cost savings and improved machine monitoring and maintenance. IIoT solutions are already offering endless benefits to modern-day manufacturers.
Here are the top 10 benefits of IIoT deployment:
1. Production System Awareness and Monitoring: At the core of IIoT solutions is constant communication between systems and machines, which ensures throughput is optimized and machine defects are identified in real-time.
2. Manufacturing Process Optimization: Machines and equipment enabled with sensors and managed with IIoT systems can monitor conditions, equipment and workflows—like machine performance, assembly line management, supply chain optimization, workforce safety or quality assurance processes—for optimization.
3. Predictive Maintenance: More than 75% of equipment and system failures occur without notice. With IIoT, preventative maintenance incorporates analytics to predict machine failures.
4. Optimizes Quality: It can address problems on the production line immediately and reduce downtime, lost productivity and product defects. IIoT equipment is programmed to monitor the quality of materials, analyze equipment performance in real-time, and measure and test finished products.
5. Inventory and Supply Chain Management: Data, analytics, insights and contextual intelligence makes inventory systems run seamlessly, which gives more accurate estimates of available material, the work-in-progress and the estimated arrival time of new materials—which helps optimize the supply chain and cuts costs.
6. Customer Service Levels and Satisfaction: Sensor-equipped production systems and inventory make it possible for customers to stay apprised of the progress of their orders in near real-time. Sensors offer insights about customer usage that can help manufacturers improve features, alert customers to problems and bottlenecks, and competitively differentiate their business.
7. Worker Safety and Health: Intelligent wearables allow managers to monitor the health and safety of production workers by tracking histories for illness and injury, absences, near-misses, machinery or vehicle accidents or life-threatening events such as gas leaks.
8. Energy Management and Sustainability: Industrial manufacturing is responsible for consuming 54% of the world’s electricity. Manufacturers that use IIoT can significantly increase energy efficiency by optimizing energy consumption.
9. Service Provisioning and Orchestration: Field services delivery enabled by IIoT is a value-based approach based on factors provided, such as the timing, context and technical personnel involvement for a given service activity.
10. Service Contract Compliance and Performance: IIoT enables data visibility in real-time so both the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) and the user are aware of the risks and issues as they arise.