Industrial Revolution has all been about increasing the volume of production while improving the quality of the products along with operational efficiency to keep costs low and maximize profits.
The stress on improvement in process and quality led to the development of methodologies such as Lean and Six Sigma to increase throughput but was still driven by humans with the technology used only for metrics and advanced analysis.
Though manufacturing companies did derive much benefit from these methodologies, the advent of Industry 4.0 technologies such as cloud, artificial intelligence, and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices has magnified the benefits manifold.
IIoT has made it possible for manufacturers to create smart factories and integrate systems. This has provided them with a unified data source that enables advanced analytics to identify patterns and trends and facilitate informed decision making.
End-to-end connection of machines right from production to delivery provides manufacturers with visibility improving the formulation of strategies and policies for accelerating growth.
Fast-Paced Adoption of IIoT
The integration of systems enables manufacturing companies to have better control of their inventory and supply chain as well as improve energy management. This naturally leads to cost reduction, resource optimization, increased profitability and overall enhanced operational efficiency due to industrial automation, centralized monitoring and predictive maintenance of assets.
No wonder then that the market for IoT in manufacturing industries is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.1%, from USD 33.2 billion in 2020 to USD 53.8 billion by 2025, according to a ResearchAndMarkets.com report.
A PwC survey of around 1,000 industrial manufacturers revealed that 71% were already building or testing IoT-related solutions in both active and in-development projects and 68% intended to increase their investment in the next couple of years.
The surveyed companies were investing in better technology infrastructure, data management, workforce culture and change management to reap the benefits of digital transformation.
Benefits of Smart Factories
A smart factory with interconnected systems can automate workflows across functions and manage complex processes with greater visibility and traceability. Some of the key areas where they can see the advantages of IIoT devices include:
- Predictive Maintenance: The breakdown of machinery and the resulting disruption to production is one of the biggest challenges manufacturing companies face. This causes unexpected delays in addition to the cost of repair. In smart factories, sensors embedded in the machinery provide data that can help analyze machine performance as well as receive alerts in case of any issues or deviations from preset specifications for preventive maintenance. This improves the longevity of the machinery, effects cost savings as well as enables scheduling maintenance in a more planned manner.
- Product Quality: A piece of faulty equipment can also affect product quality. Embedded technologies can help manufacturers keep their machines well-calibrated to ensure that the machinery is as per specifications and can produce the desired product.
- Supply Chain Management: The IoT devices can be connected to the ERP or SCM system to track inventory and draw real-time insights about product movement from raw materials to finished goods for a smooth supply chain management. It enables the different departments to have a view of the production process and also removes the need for manual documentation, thereby reducing manual errors and the resultant costs.
- Safety and Security: Worker safety and security in the plant are becoming important due to regulatory requirements as well as to reassure employees and improve their engagement with the business. IoT systems can make it easier for safety leaders to be alerted in case of any potential hazards and risks and monitor Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of health and security to not only improve compliance but also make the shop floor safe.
- Energy Efficiency: Not only is energy one of the highest areas of expenditure for manufacturing companies, but it is also one of the most important areas where conservation is the most needed. IoT devices can help identify inefficiencies at the device level to enable businesses to address them effectively. This can help reduce waste and also meet regulatory standards more efficiently and effectively.
The integration of systems also ensures access to enterprise-wide data that facilitates better visibility into operations and more informed decisions. This provides a competitive advantage in addressing potential challenges before they become a problem and helps managers take a proactive approach rather than a reactive one.
At Indium Software, serving the manufacturing sector has been one of our key focus areas and, over the last decade, we’ve picked up immense expertise in serving fast-growing manufacturing companies in industrial, energy, automotive, and diversified segments.
The core of Industry 4.0 revolves around data. And, Indium’s experience in data management and data engineering are key assets while serving this segment.
Challenges to IoT
IoT comes with its own challenges too: Cost, Security, and Lack of Standards, to specifically name a few points.
Manufacturing companies with legacy equipment may find that customizing their existing machinery to scale up to become an embedded device comes at a cost. However, this can be more cost-effective than investing in new equipment and provide the flexibility they require.
Therefore, identifying the right partner who understands their business and can develop bespoke solutions that enable digital transformation at a reasonable cost would be a prime requirement.
The second is security. As more and more devices get added, the security environment becomes that much more complex. Ensuring encryption and other protection to safeguard data would be the second criterion that a partner should be able to ensure.
Using open frameworks and modern software development tools to write IoT firmware can help overcome the limitations of the lack of standards.
A partner such as Indium Software, with more than two decades of experience in cutting edge technologies, can help manufacturing companies experience painless digital transformation.
Our team of experts has experience in Industry 4.0 technologies, IoT, open frameworks, data engineering, security and testing, which is combined with cross-domain expertise to deliver best-fit solutions meeting the unique needs of our customers.
If you would like to know how we can help you improve your operational efficiency with IoT on your shop floor, contact us now.