How IoT technology can help the manufacturing sector

In the coming years, manufacturers will thrive or perish based solely on how they choose to adopt IoT into their processes. Its proper use can help manufacturers improve security, privacy and loss prevention.

How IoT technology can help the manufacturing sector

Saturday February 18, 2023,

6 min Read

The internet of things (IoT) refers to the collective network of connected devices and the technology that facilitates communication between them and the cloud and among the devices themselves. 

In the manufacturing sector, IoT is about micro-processing and splitting larger systems into smaller ones. By doing this, managing the network, upgrading it, and maintaining it become substantially easier and simple.

Manufacturers are now looking to transform their ecosystems through new-age technologies. Studies show that digital leaders are aggressively adopting game-changing Industry 4.0 solutions. 

Here’s a quick look at the IoT trends revolutionising the manufacturing industry.

Higher margins and customer satisfaction

In this fast-moving world, manufacturers have ample opportunities for IoT usage and connected products in their businesses. The benefits result from enhancing product quality along with enhancing the existing service delivery. Remote diagnostics increase customer service and reduce the time to solve issues. This helps create stronger bonds with customers.

Further, early warning and detection signals will drive quality improvements in future products. And the new services can ensure higher markings and improved customer satisfaction and hence provide better results.

Improved asset management

Manufacturers face higher customer service expectations—one of them is faster delivery time. So, companies have been exploring micro-logistics networks to meet accelerated delivery requirements. 

IoT in the connected supply chain at the asset level helps companies to control and manage inventory positions. Additionally, they get greater visibility into actual inventory throughout the complex logistics network.

Improved product quality

IoT sensors capture data on product specifications and other metrics, including data from third parties, at different levels of the product cycle. This helps manufacturers determine which products meet quality specifications and need a physical inspection.

The gathered data pertains to the composition of the raw resources utilised and the effect of transportation and other factors on the finished products. Also, if integrated into the result, the IoT system will provide data on consumer reactions to the product, and the insights can help find and fix quality problems.

Better manufacturing plant safety

IoT, combined with data analysis, can facilitate safety, privacy, and security by monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs), including vehicle mishaps, employee absences, accidents and injuries, during daily operations.

The technology also ensures smooth operations through real-time insights into these significant areas. So, issues can now be addressed immediately, and, hence, manufacturers can assure compliance with health and safety regulations and environmental concerns.

Remote monitoring

Remote monitoring is required in various fields, where the workforce checks processes in time intervals and easily monitors them remotely. It is a great use case to look out for leaders with industrial assets who can find boundless opportunities with IoT-connected assets. 

IoT-enabled sensors can monitor equipment usage and health, which helps assess performance. Further, the sensors can help deploy the service if there are any problems.

Manufacturers could remotely keep track of the power consumption throughout the production cycle. Also, the real-time IoT monitoring system of the production line helps reduce the energy costs of machinery by around 45%. 

Improved logistics management

Manufacturers can use IoT for repairs and fuel expenditure and optimise tasks that cover monitoring fuel costs, smart deliveries, diagnostics and drivers. A real-time overlook of driver and vehicle performance raises employees’ safety, brings down inventory damage, and lessens insurance payments.

IoT-enabled technology for logistics can deal with many use cases along a typical supply chain, from warehousing to fleet management and cargo tracking. 

Employee safety

Manufacturing can be an extremely dangerous industry, with greater possibilities of accidents annually. IoT will continue as the latest trend to improve safety and prevent work-related injuries, as it helps manufacturers detect potential risks and hazards. 

Some use cases of IoT to improve safety measures include wearables that track technicians’ heart rates and blood pressure. One can receive notifications when it is dangerous to keep working. Smart sensors can detect the exceeded level of heat, air pollution, radiation, or noise and send alerts. There are also fire sensors that are sensitive to temperature changes and detect fire.

Machine-to-machine automation

One of the ways to look out for is communication between devices, and smart sensors can be embedded in devices to enable that. IoT-enabled equipment use sensors to communicate and automate decisions, including materials procurement, demand and sales forecasting, and distribution without human interaction.

Also, with ERP communicating with products and machines, the workforce can closely monitor manufacturing performance and capture insights in one solution.  

Precise repair and maintenance 

IoT is an important tool for gathering information on the functionality of the machine. Data collected from connected devices and machinery can be used by applications to monitor operations in real-time, and, hence, it makes things easier and more precise. 

Manufacturers with IoT integration should able to track the cause when things go wrong. This prediction helps manufacturing plants enhance their production and reduce costs.

Security and privacy

Authentication is an important factor across all areas of IoT—whether it's network, cloud, or software applications. IoT has enabled smart manufacturing set-up that enhances privacy and safety, improves performance and services, and reduces time and cost. 

In nutshell, IoT-enabled technology is the driving force behind the Industry 4.0 movement.

Prevent fire accidents

Workplace fires are widespread, and, despite being accidental, they can be prevented if identified as early as possible. This new-age technology enhances the uncovering of the rise in temperatures, which is important in detecting the nature of a possible fire in manufacturing plants. 

Further, manufacturers can detect increased temperatures that could indicate a possible fire in the work site, and hence, they can make a big difference in the timely evacuation of workers and implementation of critical preventive actions.

Challenges related to IoT

In the era of latest technologies, a trained workforce with adequate skill sets is required to handle the latest manufacturing equipment and software systems equipped with IoT-related technologies. Although manufacturing industries are dynamic toward adopting new-age technologies, they face a shortage of skilled and proficient manpower. 

The emerging developing economies also struggle to efficiently implement IoT in manufacturing operations and carry out the next-level industrialisation due to the lack of a skilled workforce

IoT in manufacturing

The global market of IoT in the manufacturing sector is continuously expanding, and, according to experts, its increasing popularity is made possible with the introduction of technological breakthroughs such as smart sensors and virtual and augmented reality.

In a recent analysis, Allied Market Research predicted that the global market size for IoT in manufacturing is expected to reach $500 billion-$525 billion by 2027, growing at 20-22%.

IoT in the manufacturing sector presents lucrative growth opportunities, and major businesses are already investigating specialised technology to take advantage of digitisation and maximise its advantages. In the end, promising technology can pave the way for manufacturers and help achieve the next generation of manufacturing excellence.

(The author is the Managing Partner at KSP Inc.)

Edited by Suman Singh