You’ll likely have already heard the terms Internet of Things (IoT) or Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) bandied around. However, if you’ve put them down as simply being the latest in a long line of manufacturing buzzwords, you’re very much mistaken.
The reality is that IoT isn’t exclusive to manufacturing. Rather, it’s the interconnectivity of devices—and you experience it every day. From smart TVs to intelligent kitchen appliances, these advanced features have transformed traditional tech and given rise to the interconnected home.
The IoT makes our daily lives easier and more efficient — and in manufacturing, it’s no different. In this blog post, I discuss the impact the Internet of Things in manufacturing has had and what the future could potentially bring.
The Internet of Things in manufacturing
In an industry where time is money, the IIoT provides huge possibilities to streamline processes and maximise production yields in manufacturing. Essentially, it takes the legwork out of manufacturing, transforming the traditional face of the factory.
Of course, there are many ways of harnessing this potential within manufacturing, whether it’s attaching sensors to monitor the production capabilities of machines or the easy generation of performance reports to gain greater business visibility. In general, here are a few of the main ways IoT has impacted manufacturing:
- The creation of intelligent machinery — just like the smart TV has made the traditional television more intelligent, IoT sensors and capabilities have essentially upgraded existing machinery to increase visibility of production performance. This makes the detection of delays easier, while minimising downtime and improving overall production.
- Improved data collection and analysis — through supporting the easy capture and analysis of business-critical data, such as productivity and waste performance, manufacturers are able to make more informed business decisions, reducing costs and improving quality and overall performance.
- More efficient resource management — with greater visibility of how a machine is performing and used, manufacturers are able to create actions to improve worker safety and productivity, and reduce energy consumption and facilities costs.
At Datawright, one of our successful IIoT projects is our award-winning work with Arlington Automotive. The car parts manufacturer has a target stroke per minute for machine presses, yet performance data was being collected the following day, giving the brand little opportunity to rectify any issues.
Through using Wi-Fi automation devices connected to a micro-switch in each press and linked to the company’s ERP system, we were able to create IoT-connected devices. We made real-time data available through a custom dashboard, which updated every minute. The impact of this was huge in terms of manufacturing efficiencies, increasing productivity by 16%. This project helped us take home the Software Innovation Solution of the Year Award at the European IT & Software Excellence Awards — you can read more about the project in our case study.
IoT manufacturing: ignorance is bliss?
For some businesses — especially SMEs — there is a temptation to bury their heads in the sand and wait for the latest tech tide to pass, in an effort to avoid additional costs and disruption to their business.
However, as the success stories continue, it’s clear that the IoT is far more than just the latest industry fad — it has certainly proven its worth to date and we can expect continued success in the future. However, you’re only guaranteed this success if you embrace it. IoT is a disruptive technology that cannot be ignored— those who do risk being left behind.
This isn’t a new phenomenon; history is littered with the demise of brands that failed to adapt to the technology that was changing around them. Obvious examples are Blockbuster, a video rental brand that failed to adapt to the growing DVD and video streaming market, and Kodak, who took a hit following the growth of digital photography.
If you want to avoid being the latest in a long line of brands that missed the boat, it’s imperative that you fully embrace the Industrial Internet of Things. Our examples may have happened outside of manufacturing, yet it’s a very real possibility within the industry. As consumer demands change, you can’t stand still; you must react to your shifting market and the IoT can help you do just that.
The future of the Internet of Things in manufacturing
With this in mind, what does the future hold for the Internet of Things in manufacturing? While nobody knows exactly, looking at industry predictions certainly makes for positive reading. In 2016, there were 6.4 billion connected things. This is a figure that Gartner expects to grow by 31% to total 8.4 billion — more than the world’s population — by the end of 2017. By 2020, this figure will reach 20.4 billion. Likewise, GE Digital predicts that the Industrial Internet of Things will be worth more than double the consumer internet, contributing $11.1 trillion annually by 2025.
This growth is clearly beneficial for manufacturers — Verizon predicts that those businesses who do harness the power of IoT will be 10% more profitable than those who don’t. By the close of 2017, it is estimated that 60% of worldwide manufacturers will capture and analyse data using connected products. This is anticipated to deliver productivity improvements of around 15% for manufacturers. As markets become increasingly competitive, advantages like this cannot be ignored.
Of course, the continued adoption of new processes and technology naturally brings about security concerns. Remember when we were worried about the security of the cloud or the prospect of entering credit card details online? It’s a natural process but nevertheless, the concerns remain real.
By 2020, it’s estimated that over a quarter of enterprise security attacks will target IoT connected devices. As they become an increasingly fundamental part of how manufacturers operate, it is to be expected that the IoT security spend will increase. By 2018, the worldwide IoT security spend will reach $547.2 million— roughly double what we were spending in 2014 ($231.86).
However, while potential threats to the IoT infrastructure may be present, it’s clear that the positives fully outweigh the negatives. With a commitment to maintaining security, you can reap the benefits that IIoT brings, improving productivity, efficiencies and cementing your position in an ever-competitive sector. There is no longer a choice; the IoT in manufacturing is here to stay.