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IoT is a popular buzzword, but what exactly does that mean for manufacturers

Smart homes, smart phones, smart cars – the Internet of Things, or simply “IoT,” seems to be everywhere. The Internet of Things is a popular buzz phrase, but what it really refers to is the way that devices that are connected to each other, often via the Internet, work together or communicate in some way without any manual labor from people. In short: IoT is all about being connected.

Many industries are starting to take advantage of IoT, and it’s no surprise that, with all of the machines and data floating around the plant floor, manufacturers are among them. So how is IoT impacting manufacturing, and why?

Industry 4.0 and IIoT

“Industry 4.0” refers to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The first industrial revolution occurred when steam and the first machines took over the work that had been done entirely by hand, the second was electricity and mass production, and the third was the beginning of automation with the introduction of computers and robots. Now, in the fourth phase, it’s all about interconnectivity.

   

Smart manufacturing, Industry 4.0, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) – there are many names that refer to it, and as Industry Week describes it, it’s about on “creating an environment where all available information – from within the plant floor and from along the supply chain – is captured in real-time, made visible and turned into actionable insights.” What it all boils down to is that your team will have an automated, continuous supply of data to help you reduce downtime and ensure that your equipment is ready when you need it.

About 64 percent of manufacturing professionals view IoT as “disruptive and important,” and many are already incorporating these solutions into their supply chain. In fact, you’re most likely already using some form of IoT in your organization. Condition monitoring, for example, is one of the earliest applications. Some other common uses include:

So, Why IoT?

As mentioned above, with the introduction of IoT into manufacturing, maintenance teams are freed up from manual input, leaving more time in the day to focus on bigger projects. Additional benefits include:

  • Increased visibility
  • Enhanced reporting with real-time data
  • Automated sensor monitoring can be performed after hours for “lights out” operations
  • More OEE means more profits; as cited by Business Insider, manufacturers who introduce IoT solutions saw an average of 28.5 percent increase in sales

With all of the benefits, it’s no surprise that IoT adoption is increasing. As reported by Industry Week, SCM World’s survey of supply chain professionals found that:

  • 50 percent of manufacturing executives expect to have full visibility into all aspects of the supply chain via IoT
  • Only one in five factories are still “offline,” i.e. without IoT solutions
  • By 2020, executives estimate that all of their factories will have at least some IoT solutions
  • 40 percent of those surveyed felt that IIoT and smart manufacturing is market ready – and it’s a good investment

To learn more about Industry 4.0, check out our guide!

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