In what’s being touted as the coming of the next Industrial Revolution, the Internet of Things, (IoT), or the Internet of Everything, is changing manufacturing processes in ways that could hardly have been conceived of just a few years ago. Industry 4.0, what many call the next or “fourth” industrial revolution, is a melding of manufacturing and information technologies that will enable companies to vastly improve quality and operational efficiency.
What is IoT?
IoT is the collective term for physical objects embedded with sensors, software, and electronics that allows them to communicate with each other over a network, in this case the Internet, creating a real-time integration between these physical things — machines, cameras, cars, phones, refrigerators and TVs, almost anything — and computer-controlled systems.
IoT is making possible manufacturing processes that control themselves, smart products that can take corrective actions to avoid damage and automatically replenish parts, and autonomous interaction between all segments of the production and supply chain. Digital, intelligent control systems are automating processes, production tools, and service systems and enabling real-time critical measurements, statistical evaluations, and predictive maintenance. It almost makes human supervision obsolete, and someday it probably will.
IoT in Manufacturing Quality and Operational Efficiency
If you’re in manufacturing, you know that if for some reason you can’t make your product, then you have a huge issue on your hands. With IoT, there are many possibilities to make sure that your machines are working at peak efficiency to avoid surprise maintenance issues. Imagine having system monitoring in place that pings you when a machine isn’t acting quite right before you run into an issue where it actually breaks and stops the line.
IoT has been evolving for decades, but new advances in technology have sped up that evolution exponentially. Companies are quickly adopting IoT production and monitoring processes to cut costs, increase safety, and produce better products. Some examples include:
- A leading motorcycle manufacturer is currently using IoT sensors and software to monitor various types of equipment, including the speed of the fans in paint booths. The software can detect variations in temperature and humidity and automatically adjust controls for optimal values.
- Ultrasonic sensors are enhancing preventive maintenance and energy conservation programs by detecting potential failure. I have a degree in physics and it has always been a passion of mine. It’s fascinating that companies are using sound (ultrasound) and listening for changes to equipment to stay ahead of possible failures.
- A top auto manufacturer is also using software to perform real-time error corrections and troubleshooting, allowing the company to minimize scrap and rework rates significantly, resulting in an annual savings of over $500,000 at one of its plants alone.
The consumer world is driving a plethora of IoT devices and the technology to handle the connectivity, big-data, analytics, and actions with such devices. This will dramatically reduce the costs as well as eliminate all the ‘mystery’ typically associated with IoT. Over the coming decade, IoT technology will become standard in the manufacturing industry. Calling this the next Industrial Revolution is not an overstatement. What are your thoughts? Are you using IoT in your manufacturing processes? If so, leave a comment and let us know!
Attend Explore to Learn More
If you haven’t already registered for Explore, please be sure to check out explore.qad.com. We’ve put together an agenda full of the hands-on training and great sessions we know you will want to hear including one on IoT and its role in manufacturing led by Tony. We hope to see you in Chicago on May 2-5!