Internet of Things: Unlocking the Potential of Smart Factories
The manufacturing industry usually involves the production of a wide range of goods using machines and human skills. In recent years, the industry has started implementing smart technologies that have streamlined business operations, optimized productivity, and improved ROI.
Below are the most recent and popular digital trends in the manufacturing sector:
The Internet of Things: Connected devices and sensors collect valuable data to simplify and improve industrial activities.
Artificial Intelligence and machine learning: Advanced algorithms are used to analyze raw data and transform it into effective actions.
Robotics: Industrial robots help create efficiencies at all stages and are able to operate 24/7 without making errors.
Big Data and industrial analytics: With the help of these technologies, manufacturers can update, manage, and analyze increasing amounts of digital data and make the best decisions for their businesses.
Several manufacturers have transformed their processes into smart manufacturing and empowered their businesses with smart digital solutions. Internet of Things, in particular, has been making manufacturing processes better than ever by providing full visibility of assets, resources, processes, and products.
Here’s how IoT is helping the manufacturing industry:
By integrating IoT-connected devices with relevant software solutions for analysis, several useful predictions can be made, such as component failures, maintenance requirements, etc. Here’s how it works:
- Networks are monitored by sensors.
- Integral devices are used to assess operation features, measure performance indexes, alert users about malfunctions and take actions in case of abnormal events.
- Advanced analytics are used to increase performance and equipment efficiency.
Inventory level monitoring
IoT-connected devices are used to monitor inventory and tank fluid levels in maintenance, repair, and operations environments. They are also used to monitor production rates and enable quick identification of issues that hamper product quality.
Remote process monitoring and equipment configuration
Information can be collected remotely on production processes. In addition, it also allows for remote configuration of equipment, leading to saved time and effort.
Possible abnormalities in the performance of equipment can be timely identified with the help of IoT-connected machines. Timely information about the deterioration of equipment can enable the concerned individuals to take remediation steps.
Virtual equipment management
Several performance issues can be fixed via virtual networks, thus streamlining the management and monitoring of equipment. This is especially useful during tough times like the COVID-19 crisis, which forced the workers to work remotely and maintain social distance.
Connected devices integrate facilities, workers, equipment, and databases to improve management at all manufacturing stages.
Security is a significant concern
The manufacturing sector, which includes pharmaceutical companies, automotive, and electronics, has always been a vulnerable industry when it comes to security breaches and cyberattacks. IoT in manufacturing accounts for one-third of all attacks. It’s because most traditional manufacturing units were not designed with cybersecurity in mind. On top of it, cybercrime has become increasingly sophisticated.
Therefore, as manufacturers migrate from traditional factories to smart systems, new vulnerabilities emerge.
Each point of connection is vulnerable to cyberattacks that can lead to remote access, interference, theft of intellectual property, and data loss.
Possible solutions to security challenges
Security challenges have slowed the pace of the adoption of new IoT technologies, but there are some ways to ensure success in IoT transformation.
- Go only with strong automation vendors.
- Invest in the education and training of your employees.
- Take guidance from experienced developers, data scientists, and companies with a good record in security maintenance.
- Consider the security strategy from the very start.
The potential of smart manufacturing is enormous. These measures will ensure you enjoy all the benefits without it being hampered by security doubts.