Manufacturing and other industrial environments have many opportunities to leverage Internet of Things (IoT) technology to improve their operations. Factory visibility is a key benefit for plant managers, who require instant access to the operational parameters of mission-critical equipment.
Industry analysts such as Gartner and IDC forecast that by 2020 there will be 30 billion connected devices in use by consumers and businesses. For manufacturers and industrial suppliers these smart devices enable a connected supply chain and more transparent business operation.
Industrial IoT can automate decision making by applying rules-based logic to the real-time data stream. This can be used to synchronize machinery on the assembly line and adjust machine configuration or calibration in response to current operating conditions.
Data analytics also have a place in the IoT strategy of a manufacturing operation. Predictive analytics can identify the leading indicators to a failure, reducing the business impact of downtime. Maintenance and repair of equipment programs shift from reactive to proactive, enabling the plant to schedule the work a time that is best for the business.
Advanced analytics can also be used to optimize machine output or to reduce defects. By establishing a data model based on desired machine performance, IoT technology can not only identify underperforming equipment assets but also provide prescriptive remediation steps. All of this has the potential to improve businesses outcomes for manufacturers.
The first step is to clearly identify the business use case that the solution is targeted to address, this could be smart diagnostics, condition-based maintenance, predictive failure or asset optimization. Next, keep in mind that IoT projects are mainly focused on the value of data and by nature require the involvement of many disciplines within a business. In manufacturing environments, this translates into more cooperation between those who manage Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) systems.
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