Manufacturers need to find new ways to stay competitive by gaining improvements in productivity, enhancing operations and one of the ways technological developments are assisting this is through the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT).

IIOT Adoption in Industry

There are several drivers for IIOT adoptions in industry, including:

  • Cost reduction: Less downtime, agile operations, greater efficiency and lower operating costs.
  • Shorter time-to-market: Efficient supply chain and manufacturing operations reduces time to market.
  • Mass customization: High production volumes are retained while allowing more individualized production according to needs. IIOT monitors inventory by the use of SKUs and allows for efficient forecasting.
  • Improved safety: Wearable devises paired with IIoT allows the employer to monitor employees safety and potential environmental hazards.

IIoT’s Impact on Production Systems

IoT works across 3 main areas to transform production systems.

1.Shop Floor/Field Operations

IIoT makes the shop floor and field operations more visible, allowing more effective control over resources. Less reliance on manual input and real time acquisition allows rapid intervention at production level to increase output. IIoT looks at human/machine interaction, quality control and monitoring machinery and equipment allowing the business to more successfully manage production output. Quality control is more objective avoiding subjective WIP observations.

Safety monitoring via wearable tech collects important information to protect workers; notifying remote managers of any problems or potential accidents by collecting data that may indicate illness or accident.

IoT applications assist in maximal asset use, ensuring long life and efficiency. Asset tracking and management ensure that maintenance and safety checks are carried out regularly and keep account of where assets are located. Removing machinery from production for servicing at convenient times avoids unnecessary and expensive breakdowns.

2.Manufacturing Supply Chain

It is predicted that by 2020 around 80% of the supply chain will be monitored with tech: Inventory managements in real time, the location of inventory and where the inventory is at each stage of supply will provide key logistical insights. Improved customer relationships will evolve by monitoring products to make sure they reach the client in optimal condition.

3.Remote/Outsourced Operations.

IIoT can help mitigate some of the issues around complex supply chains. It allows for shop floor operations to be monitored across multiple locations and across geographical area, giving insight into the need for maintenance, potential machinery failure and keep production lines running even where the worker or machinery has been placed remotely. Without visiting the shop floor, management can see how well a particular piece of equipment is being utilized and react acordingly. Sensors sends real time data on products and machinery to a central location enabling more efficient asset management and distributions.

Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises – the Benefits

IoT provides a great opportunity to smaller businesses to take advantage of cloud computing and software to counter the challenges they face. The ability to monitor machinery remotely helps prevent mechanical failure and keep production running. SMEs can leverage this to increase competitiveness by becoming more reliable, flexible and responsive to customer needs.

IIoT – the Challenges

There are a few challenges associated with IIoT adoption, including:

ROI – there is a level uncertainly concerning the ROI because of the level of investment needed – a business needs to establish how quickly the new solutions will pay off and they start seeing increases in revenue.

Data security – many business believe that IIoT increases their risk of Cyber attack, current predictions are that around 25% of attacks will involve IoT, while the spending on security to counter this continues to rise.

Qualified employees – there is a lack of experienced employees in the field. Specifically skill is needed in analytics, big data, AI, IT security and in areas of development.

Integration – seamless integration between IT and OT while reducing the risk of data loss of security breaches has been an issue. As adoption of Ethernet protocols at machine level and web-based user interfaces increases the integration process has become easier but challenges remain.

Manufacturing enterprises can maximise productivity through the use of Industrial IoT, however these are complex and adoption needs careful design, implementation and execution.

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