MELBOURNE: Internet of Things (IoT) discussions often center on the home, where your refrigerator communicates with your phone reminding you to buy milk when the carton is nearly but not completely empty; and your sneakers tell your watch how many calories you’ve burned in your morning workout.
As Internet of Things has evolved through the convergence of wireless technologies, micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) and the Internet, IoT has the potential to revolutionise the manufacturing sector.
In this interaction with Rakesh Rao, Arun Kundu, Director, Professional Services, Asia Pacific & Global Strategy, Verizon Enterprise Solutions, explains the impact of Internet of Things on the shop floor and benefits incurred by the manufacturing companies.
While manufacturers vary greatly, on the scale of production and the kinds of products they make, IoT can add value to most, if not all. IoT is also creating opportunities to capture and interpret data leading to new services, avoiding commoditisation. And of course, manufacturers are always looking for ways to streamline processes and increase efficiency.
IoT-enabled asset tracking not only provides manufacturers with better control of their logistics, but using the data can also enable them to offer their customers near real-time tracking of shipments, an appealing differentiator. The factory of the future will be more capital efficient and flexible. Updates from product design teams will be introduced more quickly, and customisations incorporated more easily.
With Internet of Things, manufacturers can remotely monitor the condition of equipment and look for indicators of imminent failure – for example vibration, temperature, or pressure outside normal limits.
This means that the manufacturer can make fewer visits, reducing costs and freeing up employees. For the customer it means less disruption, increased uptime, and ultimately higher satisfaction. Taking this to the next level, manufacturers can offer a price-per-use, inclusive of all hardware, installation, and servicing.
Production line monitoring and automation is one of the most mature IoT applications. By connecting production-line systems, manufacturers can move to predictive maintenance, helping to make better use of resources and reducing unplanned downtime.
This strategy can improve equipment utilisation and plant output overall. Most production-line systems already contain the necessary sensors – it’s just a case of adding connectivity. Manufacturers can also track pallets, shipping containers, and equipment both on- and offsite, using location-aware IoT devices.
Using a mix of connectivity technologies, including cellular and satellite, this tracking can cover shipments across road, rail, sea, and air transport. This end-to-end monitoring reduces the chance of loss or theft, and additional sensors can be used to verify that perishable or fragile goods are kept in appropriate conditions and handled properly throughout their journey.