How Does IIoT Enable Smart Factory Solutions?

Post By: Ryan King On: 08-05-2024 - Automation & Control - Industry Trends - Manufacturing

IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) technology is rapidly changing how we access information and complete everyday tasks. Cloud tech, AI and machine learning are just a few examples. Smart factories harness the advances in IIoT to bring together the best modern automation solutions. 

IoT is transforming accessibility and communication, making interactions between technology and the physical world smoother. Low-cost computing combined with automation has also changed how manufacturers operate, allowing them to implement advanced Industrial IoT systems (IIoT) and become smart factories.

How Do Smart Factories Work?

In smart factories, equipment is connected to an internal network of sensors and automated systems to gather data. By analysing the data gathered from internal networks, operators can fine-tune production according to variations in demand. The data gathered from sensors and cloud applications provides key insights for different business areas. This data can then be used for machine learning and staff training.

Smart factories also use automation and machine learning to manage workflows with minimal supervision. Automation makes it easier to schedule upgrades and allows operators to implement predictive maintenance. An advantage of automated maintenance is that it can locate faults before they disrupt production. Finding problem areas quickly reduces damage to equipment, which may not be possible with manual checks that take longer to complete.

The Advantages Of IIoT 

Automation And Remote Access

Industrial environments vary in complexity, from large-scale warehouses to offshore facilities. IIoT devices have made it possible to monitor and control functions in these industrial environments, which often require specific temperatures and equipment. For example, IIoT devices such as proximity sensors are designed to track an object within a given radius. They are used in automated factory processes to control the placement of objects along manufacturing lines. Another example is temperature sensors in remote solar plants, which give operators temperature readings via a cloud platform.

How Does IIoT Enable Smart Factory Solutions?

Predictive Maintenance 

Predictive maintenance uses data generated from machine analytics to anticipate repairs and identify critical spare parts needed. It also brings system issues to attention before they escalate. By using predictive data in this way, operators can reduce downtime, which contributes to the OEE (overall equipment efficiency). Sensor data provides an overview of temperature, pressure and other metrics that can uncover urgent repairs or areas of concern. This allows operators to take immediate action to prevent the escalation of damage. Performance data is also used to set real-time systems alerts to prevent outages and hazards. In addition, predictive maintenance influences MTBF (mean time between failures), which measures the average time it takes to address system disruptions.

Supply Chain Management

IIoT devices track supply chains and provide insights into how manufacturers can improve their production cycles. Supply chain data assists manufacturers in reducing waste, improving logistics and managing their inventories. An example of IIoT in supply chains is Amazon’s smart warehouses that use sensors to track inventory. Amazon’s vehicles also use sensors for predictive maintenance, which has contributed to lower costs and faster deliveries. Through the use of IIoT tech, Amazon can achieve higher customer satisfaction and lower maintenance costs.

Data-Based Decision Making

The wealth of data produced by IIoT devices allows operators to compare past and current data trends to increase efficiency. Assessing energy data highlights areas where manufacturers can become more sustainable and reduce their environmental footprint. As well as reducing costs, data-driven decisions lead to less waste and higher-quality production. Analytics also play a vital role in adding value, allowing manufacturers to assess competitors and retain a competitive edge. 

Safer Work Environments 

IIoT security sensors and monitoring equipment make industrial work environments safer by triggering safety alarms, performing automated shutdowns, and collating safety data. Monitoring conditions in hazardous environments, including temperature readings, air quality and noise levels, is safer with remote devices. Using robotics and automation in hazardous locations reduces the risk of having on-site staff in remote locations.

How To Implement Smart Factory Solutions? 

Integrating IIoT technology begins with a detailed plan to evaluate current systems and how they’ll be upgraded. It should take into account how new IIoT systems will integrate with legacy systems and factor in a trial period to test devices before deploying them. A phased plan should also include the feedback of all key staff and training to introduce new workflows and answer questions.

IIoT tech is frequently targeted in cyber attacks, so staff should also be trained on how to manage cyber incidents to guard against human error and cyber threats. To safeguard data and assets, manufacturers may also need to hire specialist staff such as cyber security engineers.

The Future Of Smart Factories

With the advantages of automation, AI, analytics and robotics in industrial settings, more manufacturers are moving to upgrade their systems to integrate IIoT technology. Harnessing the power of IoT devices in industrial manufacturing provides data across the business, which can be used to improve processes. Predictive maintenance on equipment reduces costs by locating faults quicker and making it easier to schedule routine checks. 

IIoT in supply chain management tracks the entire production cycle to provide analytics from one stage to the next. By analysing this data, it’s possible to reduce waste and costs and make production smoother. Analytics gathered from IIoT devices can be stored for future comparisons leading to better decision-making and safer environments. IIoT safety devices have also revolutionised workplaces, making it easier and safer to carry out work in remote locations. 

For manufacturers to make the most out of IIoT, they need to invest in the right equipment and train employees on how to use new technology. Cyber security awareness is integral to safeguarding cloud data combined with regular checks to adjust IIoT systems for efficiency. 

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