You’re probably already familiar with the Internet of Things (IoT) - think smart TVs, Fitbits and security cameras. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) refers to devices used within manufacturing settings to send data to SCADA and other systems; on premise, private cloud and in the public cloud.
To fully realise the potential of IIoT on the factory floor, you’ll need to do more than just connect devices to the internet or your private cloud.
The Power of IIoT
Digital manufacturing solutions give you the tools you need to expand the possibilities of connectivity. The more integrated the people, systems and processes are, the better the results for your factory. It becomes the digital nervous system for the manufacturer.
These transformations are taking place now, in part, because of the rapidly decreasing cost of sensors. Inexpensive sensors are accessible to businesses of all sizes, so factories across the world are enjoying greater connectivity as a result.
Structured and Accessible Data
One of the most important benefits of IIoT on the factory floor is the impact it has on data. These systems provide a common space where all data can be structured and curated. It’s easy to find and is accessible across the enterprise.
Bringing the full scope of factory data together in one centralised place reduces bottlenecks and ensures all workers have access to the information they need. You might already have had access to some of this data in the past.
But by bringing it all together, you can empower workers and use it more effectively. Data-driven decisions can be made quickly to ensure productivity and profitability is always high.
Augmenting Equipment and Activities
Maintaining and repairing equipment is a much simpler process with the inclusion of IIoT technology. Augmented reality allows for equipment overlays so engineers can see the exact information they need to carry out their work.
They can also work with other members of staff if the situation requires it. Procedural assistance is possible even with remote workers, thanks to IIoT. The plant worker can easily get in touch with someone else for a second opinion and they’ll both see the most vital information.
IIoT allows for non-intrusive wireless sensors that are low cost and high value. They enable workers to use AI to carry out predictive maintenance. No longer will equipment repairs disrupt production.
Supply Chain Management
IIoT positively impacts the factory floor but it can have a much wider reach too. The IIoT devices will expand system boundaries and can be utilised to improve production.
For example, if they identify weather information that might have an impact on demand, real-time updates can ensure you’re prepared. But it’s more than that. By expanding the use of connected sensors throughout the supply chain manufacturers can better understand expected deliveries and consumer demand. This will enable rapid response to changing market conditions on the supply and demand side of the business.
Today’s workforce is a flexible one. They want to use modern technological innovations to work from home or on the go. There’s no longer the same need for monitoring to take place in the same location as the systems you’re keeping an eye on.
IIoT software allows technicians to monitor asset health and performance from hundreds of miles away. They can manage a fleet of machinery from the comfort of their own home. This technology allows workers to be more flexible with their time without compromising production.
Using the Cloud
The rise of cloud technology means there’s less of a need to invest in expensive hardware for non-critical computational tasks. Cloud-based systems and applications can do most of the heavy lifting for you.
Take system rollouts, for example. IIoT protocols like MQTT allow you to quickly connect and implement systems across the whole organisation. What would have been a time-consuming process is now a simple, quick and stress-free one.
IIoT devices are just a part of a wider transformation process taking place in factories around the world. Greater integration and connectivity through digitisation empowers workers, improves productivity and increases ROI. Smart factories are possible right now - but you’ll need to transform systems and processes to achieve one.
How to Create a Smart Factory
We’ve created a free resource outlining what a smart factory looks like in practice and the importance of connecting, empowering and transforming your factory.
The guide features a detailed graphic that illustrates how a totally integrated factory can work from the plant floor, all the way up to the boardroom. Download your copy now by clicking on the link below.