For businesses in the manufacturing sector, IIoT has been a game changer. The new age of manufacturing that has been brought about by IIoT technologies has enabled manufacturing processes to become more efficient, interconnected, automated and customer-centric. In fact, in the US alone, total IIoT spend in the manufacturing industry totaled $178 billion in 2016 and will account for 15% of total IIoT purchases by 2020.
It is therefore clear that manufacturing businesses are utilizing industry 4.0 technologies to become more efficient and effective in their daily operations. Innovative manufacturers can stand to benefit greatly from IIoT. They can incorporate these technologies into their plants in an innovative manner and leverage their efficiencies in order to remain competitive.
There is a reason why so much spending has gone into these technologies and we will show you why. Here are 7 ways that innovative manufacturing through IIoT can be of benefit to manufacturing businesses.
1. More efficient and integrated operations
One of the biggest benefits that IIoT poses to manufacturers is more efficient and integrated operations. IIoT devices are used in plants to track machine performance, record and relay data in real time, and boost overall efficiency through minimizing energy consumption. Innovative manufacturers are thus able to save on operational and production costs when they implement IIoT technologies strategically throughout the plant.
With IIoT, manufacturers can also implement real-time monitoring of plant operations in order to make data-driven decisions. Innovative manufacturing is defined by real-time visibility of the entire plant so that the management team can always be in the loop and remain responsive to the needs of the factory.
2. Higher customer satisfaction
Innovative manufacturing directly and indirectly leads to higher customer satisfaction. This is because IIoT technologies make your factory more responsive to the rapidly evolving needs of its customers. Nowadays, customers are seeking increased customization, faster delivery times, more competitive prices and superior quality. IIoT makes this possible for factories in many different ways.
First off, lower production costs can enable your factory to pass on these savings to the customer. Secondly, the inter-connectivity of IIoT devices provides a framework for real-time data sharing. Factories can now share data instantaneously with their suppliers in order to keep better track of inventory levels. When inventory falls to a certain amount, signals can automatically be triggered to send out the orders to suppliers. This makes it easier for businesses to manage inventory and to quickly fulfill customer orders.
And lastly, IIoT leads to more flexible production processes through innovative manufacturing. This enables your factory to produce more customized items for your customer base.
3. Real-time control of production
A top concern for any manufacturer is the ability to control production costs. Production costs have a direct impact on your bottom line and they can easily skyrocket if not closely monitored. Innovative manufacturing through IIoT gives businesses the ability of monitoring machines in real-time, tracking assets more effectively, and ensuring the quality of products coming out of the production line. This can be achieved through placing sensors on individual pieces of equipment that relay data in real time for analysis.
Manufacturers can, therefore, keep track of production costs through cost analysis per line, unit costs, profit margins, and cost curves.
Real-time control of production enables you to set and closely monitor KPIs, carry out performance analysis, and identify any bottlenecks in your processes.
4. Better management of data
IIoT leads to the increased automation of your business processes. Automation through artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics directly results in the better management of data. Business data presents a goldmine of opportunities for most businesses. Hidden within the data are opportunities for growth, production cost reduction, performance analysis and real-time decision-making.
Factories that collect and manage their data effectively are able to learn much more about their processes through this information and they use it to make better decisions.
Data management has been a challenge for many manufacturers over time, and IIoT technologies provide a promising framework for better data management strategies.
5. Predictive maintenance
One of the biggest threats to a factory is experiencing downtime due to machines that have unexpectedly broken down. IIoT enables your plant to maintain real-time monitoring of its equipment so you can implement predictive maintenance. Predictive maintenance is a more efficient way of keeping track of your machines.
As opposed to the previous method used (preventative maintenance), predictive maintenance is a more pro-active approach that enables manufacturers to identify up-coming issues with their equipment before they happen.
Sensors can be placed on machines to keep track of variables such as temperature, pressure, and production times. If a significant change is witnessed in these variables, steps can be taken to optimize conditions and schedule for maintenance of the equipment before it breaks down.
Innovative manufacturing through IIoT, therefore, enables plants to reduce downtime, extend the life of machines, and optimize machine availability to meet production demands.
6. Safer operations throughout the plant
Maintaining a safe operating environment for your plant is not a choice, it is a necessity. Accidents in the factory can prove to be not only costly for the business but disastrous to employees and the overall image of the company. Luckily, IIoT enables manufacturers to maintain safer operations throughout the plant.
How is this achieved? IIoT devices can be used to implement virtual training programs and augmented reality coaching. These initiatives can be carried out with increased automation, relieving the costs and time constraints that would otherwise be placed on the training staff.
In addition, IIoT can be used to improve health monitoring and knowledge sharing among employees. This makes it easier for your team to be aware of safety standards and to make better decisions in the workplace.
What’s more? The working environment can also be closely monitored through IIoT technologies. The presence of gases, radiation, and dangerous materials can be identified before extensive hazardous effects are noticed.
7. Increased profitability
IIoT leads to a more profitable factory. The technologies make production processes more effective, resulting in reduced costs per item. Innovative manufacturing through IIoT also leads to waste-reduction through better inventory management, more efficient processes, and controlled labor costs.