Internet of Things

How IoT is Transforming the Manufacturing Industry

Creating a smart, efficient production system for goods

The Internet of Things (IoT) has permeated more than half of all industries, networking physical objects connected to the internet, collecting and sharing data between each other without human interaction. Manufacturing is currently the fifth leading segment taking advantage of the technology.

Inside and outside of factories, production of goods increasingly incorporates smart software, interconnected sensors, automation devices and wireless internet connectivity to create products, providing a foundation for an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

IIoT can enhance the production flow in a plant, as IoT devices automatically monitor development cycles, and manage warehouses and inventories and increase efficiencies. The IIoT market is expected to grow from $77.3 billion in 2020 to $110.6 billion by 2025. So, not only is IIoT good for reducing manufacturing costs, it is proving to be a good investment as well.

Industry 4.0
You may remember from history class that the first industrial revolution was the result of mechanization through water and steam power; the second, mass production and assembly lines using electricity; and the third, incorporating computers and automation into production. Industry 4.0 enhances computers with smart autonomous systems powered by big data and machine learning. Computers are connected and communicate with one another, using IoT technology to create truly smart factories where human interaction is minimized.

IoT is Transforming the Manufacturing Industry
Within a short span of a few years, IoT has brought an exceptionally positive disruption to manufacturing, pushing automation into a new hi-tech future.

Manufacturing has many stages where raw materials are turned into products or products are used to build other products. These processes are highly interconnected and complex. The introduction of IoT has helped change the way most of these processes are carried out, including production, delivery and data collection.

A city connected by IoT

Heavy industries are focused on process management. Manufacturing-specific IoT software connects IoT endpoints, such as a sensor or control system, to detect workflow inefficiencies. These networked sensors embedded on equipment, collect, store and process data wirelessly for multiple uses, including automatically remedying problems in the manufacturing process.

IoT is also helping humans involved in the manufacturing process be more efficient by cataloging and tracking elements of the supply chain.

Here are a couple of examples of how IoT is transforming manufacturing:

Prediction
With the number of networked sensors increasing across production, supply chain and products, manufacturers are entering into a new generation of systems that enable automatic and real-time interactions. For example, if a system breaks down, the connected sensors will locate the issue and automatically trigger a message to the manufacturer. Software could resolve the problem and apply the fix with or without human interaction.

In addition, the use of IoT can also let a manufacturer predict future breakdowns or unsafe operating conditions. Sensors calculate the surrounding temperature, sound frequencies and vibrations of a machine to see if it’s working within normal parameters.

Also called condition monitoring, the process is usually carried out through technology since doing it manually costs time, resources and money. This automated condition monitoring is also often carried out in places too dangerous for human operators to access.

Applying sensors, coupled with big data analysis and machine learning, companies are seeing a dramatic increase in their working efficiency, also reducing service costs and time. By predicting the machine downtime, machines can be pulled out of service before there is a problem that impacts the manufacturing process. Sensors can also prevent more immediate dangers, such as shutting down an overheated machine that is about to explode.

Location tracking
IoT in manufacturing can facilitate the production flow in a plant, as devices automatically monitor development cycles, and manage warehouses and inventories. Location tracking is a good example of how IoT enhances production efficiency. In a large factory, workers may spend a huge amount of time finding tools, equipment and goods in inventory. By deploying location-tracking sensors, which can be as tiny as an ID tag, in equipment and inventory items, workers can look up the location of tools, equipment and supplies, find items in storage, and return them later where they belong.

U.S. is in a good position
The market for IIoT in manufacturing is mainly dominated by North America. Already strong in manufacturing, the U.S. is heavily investing in the research and development activities related to the market, expanding the development of new technologies. In the U.S., about 35% of manufacturers collect and use data generated from smart sensors, to enhance manufacturing processes, and that number is expected to increase by a factor of 50 by 2025.

The IIoT U.S. market is neither too fragmented nor too consolidated. Some of the key players in the market are Cisco Systems Inc., General Electric, Intel, IBM, AT&T Inc., Qualcomm and Siemens AG, among others.

Canada is well positioned to advance in IIoT, especially in the arena of IoT software development.

In Mexico, Rockwell Automation, Panduit and Cisco, with special collaboration with Tecnologico de Monterrey, EY and Unified, joined forces to open the Manufacturing Advanced Technology Center (MATC) in Mexico City in 2019.

The International Data Corporation (IDC) expects worldwide double-digit growth in IoT overall, surpassing the $1 so is manufacturing trillion mark in 2022. IIoT is helping manufacturing get smarter. Companies are using the AI-enhanced Industrial Internet of Things to uncover and apply insights from data, increase efficiency, minimize downtime, manage risk and create new products and services.

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