Modern technologies cannot but influence the biggest industry in the world — manufacturing. Industrial robots have been working in factories alongside human workers for quite some time. They help create efficiencies at all stages, from raw material to final product, are able to operate 24/7, and can be highly cost-effective for any company.
Apart from robots, many other technologies are evolving and being implemented into production. As of now, the adoption of IoT has the greatest impact.
Smart Manufacturing Defined
Manufacturing is the production of a wide range of goods using human labor and machines. Through evolution, it turned into smart manufacturing that deals with intelligent automation of processes. Goods are produced with minimal human participation due to the application of robots and different smart technologies.
At present, top digital trends in manufacturing include:
- IoT (this connected technology simplifies and streamlines numerous industrial activities and improves the level of security)
- AI and machine learning (advanced algorithms transform the way information is collected and consumer behavior is predicted)
- Robotics (they perform traditional repetitive tasks and work in dangerous environments; equipped with sensors, they also gather valuable data and provide feedback)
- Big Data and industrial analytics (these technologies help manufacturers manage, update and analyze the increasing digital content, i.e. consumer and product information, with decreasing cost and downtime)
As a result, smart manufacturing accelerates productivity, increases efficiency, minimizes delays and provides a competitive edge for businesses.
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Internet of Things in Smart Manufacturing
In 2017, the Internet of Things has reached the enterprise level, and it is at the very center of industrial digital transformation now. IoT solutions for smart manufacturing created a subset of the technology — the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
The report by Accenture shows that 84% of top executives are ready to capitalize on IIoT, but in reality, only 7% of enterprises have a comprehensive strategy for the technology. Seventy-three percent of business leaders are yet to make progress with the Internet of Things.
Adoption of IoT in smart manufacturing faces the following obstacles:
- Poor infrastructure
- Lack of government support
- Insufficient employee skills
The majority of manufacturers are ready to change their business because they see definite benefits in industrial IoT and smart manufacturing.
- Improved employee productivity: Using real-time data from sensors allows employees to monitor and improve processes efficiently without delays, which enhances productivity.
- Asset optimization: Sensors track assets (machinery, equipment, tools, trucks, etc.) in real-time, providing visibility of their potential. On the basis of this data, businesses can make quick decisions and optimize their asset usage at maximum capacity.
- Reduction of operating costs: Intelligent machines and data analytics lead to reduced consumption of fuel and electricity, cuts inefficiencies and decreases overall expenses.
- Improved quality of goods: Automation eliminates human error, and companies are able to produce higher-quality goods.
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The Future of the Industrial IoT
According to Cigniti Technologies, manufacturing will be the sector most affected by IIoT, gaining $3.9 trillion.
Source: Cigniti Technologies
In general, the implementation of IoT for smart manufacturing is one of the key goals for numerous enterprises. A survey conducted in Germany by PwC reveals the following findings:
- 91% of enterprises are investing in IoT and smart manufacturing
- 6% consider their factories to be fully digitized
- 75% invested in digital factories in order to better meet customer preferences
- 50% of respondents expect ROI from digitization in five years
- Companies expect a total of 12% efficiency gains over five years
The German industrial IoT market will see rapid growth by 2025 in terms of three components: solution, service and platform.
Source: Grand View Research
The implementation of advanced IoT systems will have one most important consequence — it will enable the entire supply chain transformation and its efficient management. Infinite data gathered by sensors and connected devices will open endless commercial opportunities for the manufacturing industry in the near future.
Transformation of large, mature systems always requires a lot of effort and energy, no matter the industry.
The adoption of the Internet of Things and smart manufacturing development may face some significant challenges.
Security remains the greatest concern of all connected devices. Today, manufacturing has become the primary victim of hacking attacks. When traditional factories transform into digital ones, they turn into IP-based systems where each connected item is vulnerable to cybercrimes.
Manufacturers must adapt to sophisticated hacking technologies in order to avoid data loss, theft of intellectual property or other interventions. Legacy equipment that incorporates IoT technology should be equipped with defensive tools. If a new connected environment is created, the security strategy should be considered from the very beginning.
With the increasing number of smart factories, the skills gap among employees expands. Modern technologies implemented in production require qualified specialists and data scientists who understand new processes and can manage them.
It can be also difficult for industry executives to make decisions due to the lack of knowledge and IoT competencies. As a result, over the next decade, 2 million manufacturing jobs may be vacant due to the skills gap, Deloitte reports.
To address this problem, educational training on the Internet of Things and other technologies should be implemented as soon as possible.
One more challenge is how to seamlessly incorporate all devices into a huge manufacturing infrastructure. In this case, other intelligent solutions such as artificial intelligence, machine learning or augmented reality should be used to simplify the process.
Guidelines for Success
To stay competitive and bring value that IoT offers to business, manufacturers should:
- Automate and upgrade their processes with the help of strong automation vendors
- Cooperate with experienced data scientists, developers and other companies that have already succeeded in this field
- Consider security strategy from the very beginning
- Invest in education and professional training of their employees
To Sum Up
The potential of smart manufacturing is enormous and should not be overlooked. The main task of business leaders is to realize this power and trust in the success of the digital transformation.
SaM Solutions can become your reliable partner in creating embedded and IoT solutions. Our service offering includes a complete range of end-to-end embedded software development services, firmware and middleware development for IoT systems, cloud IoT platforms, human-machine interfaces and end-user applications, and more. Contact us to receive slide decks with detailed information. Use IoT to your benefit with SaM Solutions!