The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the increasing number of connected devices and systems that share data to provide optimal results for specific tasks and processes. The IoT is creeping into many aspects of our lives from consumer appliances to merchandising and farming. One area that has been a bit slower on the uptake — but is poised for tremendous growth — is the manufacturing sector.
Industrial IoT combines sensors, data, and intelligent automation to improve production speed, efficiency, and scalability. The continuous data-sharing and feedback loops of IoT-connected devices provide users with valuable insights and have the potential to transform the entire field of product life cycle management. If you’re ready to bring your firm into the new age of IoT, here are a few things to keep in mind.
IoT devices must provide real-time sensory data collection and analysis
These connected devices offer a continuous stream of data, which can include information on temperature, throughput rates, error notifications, energy consumption, and consumer feedback. IoT-enabled systems feed the data back into the production loop and use it to provide predictive maintenance and continuous improvement opportunities to those working in production processes and product design — two primary beneficiaries of IoT technology.
Choose the right type of sensor for your smart devices.
Sensors are the input components of IoT. They come in hundreds of types that measure all kinds of variables such as humidity, air flow, speed, sound, and much more. For each of these sensor types, you’ll have many component and manufacturer options, depending on your requirements, specific applications, and uses.
Network connectivity is fundamental to the IoT
How will your devices communicate? IoT devices typically communicate with one another locally and publish data to applications in the cloud. Devices can connect using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cellular networks, or radio frequency identification (RFID). Stationary devices can use wired or Ethernet connections.
Open standards facilitate compatibility among devices
Most manufacturing company leaders don’t have the luxury of beginning their IoT operations with complete overhauls. Instead, they’ll need to migrate and integrate new technologies and devices into existing automation structures. To facilitate interoperability, choose IoT devices designed using open software standards. The IoT is made of a hodgepodge of open standards and proprietary technologies that connect all components, creating a fragmented ecosystem that can slow the whole industry down. To combat this, several companies, including Microsoft and Cisco, joined to form an IoT standards group tasked with developing software and hardware standards for the IoT.
The IoT can bring tremendous benefits to those in manufacturing operations, but it doesn’t come without its challenges. IoT manufacturers will have to handle a much larger quantity of product variations and customizations while increasing productivity. This growing complexity of operations will be a major production challenge. Not only will you need the ability to collect data in real time but you’ll also need to be able to analyze it and take corrective actions or make production changes quickly. This extraordinary level of feedback can assist product developers and promote innovation, which leads to continuous improvements in products and processes.
Whether you’re just getting started in IoT technologies or looking to convert more of your operations to it, knowing how and where to start can be daunting. Enlisting the help of an experienced partner can make it less so.