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IoT Is Crucial to Your Manufacturing Company’s Survival

In this U+ Insight, we’ll take you through some key IoT facts, trends, and implementation tips that will help strengthen your organization’s market position and ensure its survival.

IoT Is Crucial to Your Manufacturing Company’s Survival

Adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) is essential to manufacturers that want to remain competitive. Predictive maintenance, which merges machine learning with machine sensors, is especially important, as it gives manufacturers advance notice about equipment failures.

While predictive maintenance solutions abound, a 2021 IDC report1 states that merely 15% of organizations have implemented these solutions into their processes, giving them huge benefits, such as reduced downtime, increased business sustainability, and more cost-effective production.

A forward-thinking, effectively implemented IoT strategy will provide your manufacturing company with a greater capacity for innovation, increased resilience, and improved adaptability.

The high cost of unplanned downtime

Manufacturers understand the importance of digitizing production—a 2020 PwC report2 revealed that 90% of manufacturing organizations understand the long-term benefits will far outweigh the risks. Yet despite the sector’s faith in digitization, only 35% of US manufacturers actually gather and utilize smart sensor data.3

Manufacturers that have yet to incorporate IoT solutions into their processes face the risk of costly unplanned downtime:

  • 82% of organizations deal with unplanned equipment downtime annually.4
  • On average, manufacturers experience 800 hours of unplanned downtime every year.5
  • Unplanned downtime costs up to an average of $260,000 per hour—when added up across the manufacturing sector, the resulting cost is $50 billion per year.6

The well-planned implementation of IoT solutions can help your company mitigate associated financial losses and gain a wealth of benefits.

IoT offers multiple benefits to manufacturers

From predictive maintenance to quality assurance boosts, IoT products and services can provide your manufacturing company with several advantages.

Equipment malfunction prevention

Equipped with a wide array of sensors, industrial IoT devices are capable of monitoring vital equipment factors, such as temperature, load-bearing capacity, and voltage. These devices relay data to hardware and software that enable you to predict mechanical, electrical, and structural failures before they become a costly—and potentially dangerous—problem.

Improved inventory management

With IoT in your organization’s connected supply chain, you gain a clearer view of your company’s inventory throughout your logistics network, no matter how complicated that network may be.

Greater quality assurance

Industrial IoT devices and networks can track and capture huge quantities of highly granular data points throughout your company’s entire manufacturing process. This game-changing capability takes your quality control operations from reactive to proactive—your IoT data enables you to catch and eliminate defective outputs at early production stages, thereby cutting waste and boosting operational efficiencies.

Notable IoT trends in manufacturing include machine-to-machine (M2M) automation, merging digital solutions with physical devices, and improved working conditions.

M2M automation

M2M is a catch-all term for technologies that facilitate communication between networked devices and enable these devices to automatically execute tasks such as asset tracking and monitoring, and product restocking. Using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), M2M solutions can eliminate the need for manual processes, thereby removing the risk of human error while improving efficiency and productivity.

Digital + physical

Industrial IoT devices can capture vast quantities of data. With applications that best suit your company’s needs, you can harness all that data to improve a wide range of processes. For example:

  • When combined with augmented reality apps, IoT networks can help you better plan inventory storage and optimize your facility setup to ensure safer, faster worker routes between stations.
  • As mentioned above, IoT can transmit data to equipment monitoring software that can display every component of your production line virtually, allowing you to see potential failures in real time.
  • IoT data enables you to build virtual prototypes of production line equipment, providing a simulation that enables your employees to learn how to properly work with your company’s machinery without risking damage through improper usage.

Working conditions & employee safety

Smart fire alarms that are sensitive enough to react to temperature changes can detect fires before they become a real threat. You can also equip your production line with IoT devices that can alert you to excessive radiation, pollution, or noise. You can also provide your workforce with wearables that track their heart rate and blood pressure, helping you prevent health-related incidents that could put employees and production at risk.

How to integrate IoT into your manufacturing operations

The ever-growing number of IoT devices and services, not to mention the countless setups you can build with them, can make industrial IoT implementation seem like a Herculean task. So where do you begin?

To innovate your manufacturing operations, approach IoT implementation with an innovator’s mindset. That is to say, look at your future IoT production line as a minimum viable product (MVP)—or rather, minimum viable production line (MVPL). At the same time, you must make sure your organization’s digital infrastructure can handle a torrent of IoT sensor data, and enable you and your employees to work with that data.

To build your MVPL, you need to learn what your production line staff’s biggest pain points are, and how to solve them. Throughout the line, IoT solutions should provide value to every member of your manufacturing workforce, from plant and floor managers to technicians and operators. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll also need to determine how you can test and deploy efficiently and affordably. Virtual manufacturing models offer a quick and cost-effective means of advancing from discovery through testing to deployment.

Preparing your company’s digital infrastructure could easily be a greater challenge than developing your MVPL. To overcome any potential snafus, do a technological audit to determine your network’s capabilities and limitations. From there you can prepare a budget for investments in IT, cloud solutions and readiness, and, finally, IoT implementation. Financial preparedness will ensure optimal data monitoring, collection, and analysis.

How U+ can help you implement IoT

Partnering with an MVP-focused company that understands IoT system optimization and has an MVP mindset will help optimize your production line’s use of IoT. In the long term, this will pay off in greater productivity, increased quality, and a safer workplace.

The U+ Method can efficiently and effectively lead the development, implementation, and improvement of innovations in any sector. To date, we have used this method to bring 100+ products to market, creating over $2 billion in value for Fortune 1000 companies. Check out U+ success stories here.


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