With heavy use, among others, of emerging technologies such as IoT, Cloud – Computing, Big – Data Analytics, AI, Augmented Reality, Robotics and Cyber – Physical Systems (CPS), industries are moving towards creating a more collaborative environment that facilitates greater data exchange, lower costs and increased productivity, also known as Industrial IoT or IIoT.
Increased IIoT investments have been witnessed in the fields of manufacturing, transportation, utilities and healthcare for all the right reasons.
Manufacturing industries worldwide are the leading investors in IIoT using industrial sensors, beacons, advanced RFID tags, in – store analysis and connected manufacturing machines (including robotics) to collect and analyze data from various data points in order to optimize a myriad of manufacturing processes and operations such as Product Life Cycle Management (PLM), Enterprise Resource Planning. Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management (SCM) execution systems (MES).
And 94 percent of all the companies that have chosen to implement IoT within their systems have already seen a healthy return on their investments. So, with a return that is good, you would think that many companies would make some or the other use of IoT to better manage their operations. You’re wrong there.
Surprisingly, less than a third of industrial decision – makers have put in place a well – articulated IoT strategy for their business and less than a quarter have a comprehensive roadmap for future use.
Which is not the case. With such a good return, you should jump as soon as possible on the IoT bandwagon and use this impressive technology to reach your business ‘ full potential and scale it up to new heights.
Here are a few ways you can leverage IoT to manage your different business processes better, increase overall performance and reduce costs.
Proactive Asset Management
Comprehensive IoT solutions can help organizations to keep track of all their assets ‘ health, location, and efficiency. Assets can range from handheld devices, raw materials to large industrial equipment.
By implementing predictive maintenance of your assets in critical condition and saving yourself from huge losses, you can eradicate downtime with the help of smart sensors that transmit real – time data about the location, performance and overall condition of your assets.
There are many industries out there that make use of IoT’s asset tracking and management capabilities when it comes to asset management, to save costs.
For example, mining industries use smart sensors at their mining sites to monitor the air around the area. If harmful gasses are present in a mining site’s air, smart sensors can detect that and pass the information on to site managers so that they can stop processes and protect their workers ‘ well-being. It is also possible to study the heavy equipment used in the mining sector with many IoT sensors to optimize how they are used and deployed to help maximize investment returns, increase efficiency and reduce costs.
In the maritime shipping industry, another use case of asset tracking and management can be witnessed with the help of IoT. In order to track their exact location during their journey, IoT sensors are placed on ships. And on a more granular level, each container carried by these ships is also enabled by IoT to ensure that the containers are shipped under the right environmental conditions so as not to harm the goods inside these containers.
With the help of smart IoT devices on a granular level, your entire inventory can be tracked and tracked globally. Executives can access real-time data on the material available, work-in-progress, and estimated new materials arrival time. This ultimately helps managers manage demand, optimize supply, and reduce shared cost in the value chain.
Perhaps a company using IoT to better manage its inventory is Amazon’s biggest example. Amazon currently manages over 500 million stock holding units (SKUs) and operates over 490 fulfillment centers and hubs worldwide. Amazon employees used to walk their products manually through these massive centers of fulfillment.
But all that changed when Amazon acquired Kiva Systems in 2012, an IoT – enabled robots manufacturing company. Because these robots have all the data about where a particular product is in their massive inventory, they can do all the legwork with unparalleled efficiency and help them to reduce redundant operating costs. By using these Kiva robots in just 13 of their fulfillment centers, Amazon allegedly saves on each of them about $ 20 million annually. Which, it seems, is quite a lot.
Strict Quality Control
You can collect aggregated product data and other vital data from different stages of the product cycle by placing IoT sensors on your products or their manufacturing units. IoT sensors can detect inferior raw materials used in product manufacturing, product transportation impact, waste, environmental effects on the product. IoT systems can help managers maintain strict quality control of their products and optimize costs by keeping deviations in check.
Harley Davidson, for example, has placed smart IoT sensors in their paint booth among a myriad of IoT sensors placed in their plant’s manufacturing units in York, Pennsylvania, to monitor their heat and humidity levels. If your paint booth’s heat and humidity level fluctuates from the set standard, the IoT sensors automatically detect it and adjust the velocity of the fans accordingly to ensure that the right environmental conditions are maintained for the company’s renowned superior paint job.
Product Packaging Optimization
By placing IoT sensors on the product’s packaging, manufacturers can gain insight into various effects on the product’s environment and handling and whether it has been manipulated during transit. Using this insight, managers can decide whether the packaging needs to be changed for the product to ensure that when it finally reaches the customer it is not compromised in any way. Or if the product or packaging has to be completely re – engineered from the ground up to achieve better performance, cost savings or better customer experience throughout the product journey.
And this is not all, there are other cases of use for the optimization of IoT product packaging. Digital labels are one of these. Putting digital labels on a product’s packaging allows customers to almost instantly access all the product information.
It works in tandem with QR codes and other triggers and can pull up any relevant information images, videos and tutorials that can help the customer better use the product. Use these labels as well as real – time coupons and discounts to deliver great customer experiences.
In addition, smarter product packaging solutions can also be studied with tracking logs and microchips to ensure authenticity, and many large companies such as Luis Vuitton, MK, Chanel and Levi’s are already using this technology to address counterfeit issues, protect their customers and the reputation of their brand.
Supply Chain Management
Industrial Internet of Things provides real-time access to the supply chain by tracking through the supply chain materials, equipment or products. By connecting plants with IoT suppliers, all stakeholders in the supply chain can track and track dependencies, material flow and production cycle times in order to potentially reduce waiting times and meet other capital requirements.
Smart IoT devices help manufacturers to collect and feed important delivery information to ERP, PLM and other vital systems by reporting the entire supply chain. It also helps manufacturers to identify and correct critical supply chain issues and marginally improve their efficiency.