IoT can really work wonders for manufacturing. Source: Shutterstock

IoT can really work wonders for manufacturing. Source: Shutterstock

Why businesses shouldn’t overlook the role of IoT in manufacturing

COMPANIES are waking up to the reality that the internet of things (IoT) is a powerful technology that can really help manufacturers optimize their business, improve safety, and maximize productivity.

However, most are concerned about the implementation costs and the cybersecurity vulnerabilities that an IoT network creates for their business. It’s why quite a few business leaders are shying away from IoT despite the many advantages it offers.

A recent report from IDC surveyed manufacturers in Australia and New Zealand and found that IoT was quite attractive to businesses but costs and cybersecurity concerns kept them from scaling up initial deployments.

Despite the challenges, here are three reasons why manufacturers shouldn’t overlook IoT this year:

# 1 | Operational efficiencies

Those manufacturing companies who are still using traditional methods in supply chain management are majorly lacking transparency.

Within manufacturing environments, IoT connects assets to processes, systems, and people. This enables the sharing of data across the whole supply chain, meaning that everyone gets a clearer, greater understanding of the process.

With greater visibility, companies are able to optimize their operations and be fully prepared for future demand, resulting in a more productive workforce.

Here are two examples of how IoT boosts efficiency:

Inventory management: By equipping smart shelves, forklifts, and other equipment with sensors and wireless communication, manufacturers are able to obtain a real-time view of inventory.

Workforce management: Through the collection of data from machines, assets, and computers, companies are able to track the productivity of their employees.

Managers will no longer have to walk the factory floor. Instead, they can view real-time productivity levels on a dashboard. This data will enable managers to make smart decisions about how they can help their employees perform better.

# 2 | Production asset management and maintenance

Another use case of IoT in manufacturing is its ability to monitor and track production assets in areas such as quality, performance, the potential for damage or breakdowns, bottlenecks, and more.

Oil and gas companies today, for example, are able to use IoT to build in predictive maintenance at remote sites, boosting efficiencies and ensuring safety.

Of course, some of these use cases leverage more than just IoT — and rely on big data, artificial intelligence, and even advanced networks — but IoT is what makes it possible in the first place.

IoT sensors and data analytics enable manufacturers to detect even the smallest of errors in the production process.

Such applications of IoT are extremely valuable for manufacturers, who previously would have to discard equipment and products where issues had arisen. Now manufacturers can mitigate big problems before they happen, saving both time and money.

# 3 | Improved safety of workers

The Internet of Things (IoT) is truly revolutionizing safety management for companies worldwide, including those in the manufacturing industry.

Saftey is a top concern in manufacturing, and businesses are always looking for ways to improve their protection of the workforce.

Firstly, the safety of employees can be enhanced through the use of sensors in detecting malfunctioning systems. This will prevent the likelihood of employee injuries by bringing a potential danger to their attention before it becomes a threat.

Secondly, many companies are fitting their employees with wearable devices that can track and monitor their health and safety.