Published on October 5th, 2020 | by Emergent Enterprise0
IoT in Manufacturing: The Success Story Nobody’s Talking About
Let’s face it. Discussions about the adoption of the Internet of Things can be less than exciting. But the truth is, IoT is a technology that is transforming business in a myriad of ways that are making companies faster, more efficient and more profitable. This is especially true in manufacturing as reported in this post by Philip Piletic at IoT for All. The manufacturing process is ideal for IoT as it includes processes that have many steps that require the transfer of data. This is data that can be leveraged to improve each step in the process. IoT can even drive robots, or cobots that work alongside humans, to execute the steps with unprecedented precision and accuracy. That point alone should make any company’s interest perk up and see the excitement of IoT.
Illustration: © IoT For All
For many years now, pundits and tech industry evangelists have been touting IoT technology as a true game-changer for every type of use case imaginable. According to prevailing wisdom, we were all on the verge of a world where connected devices were all around us. Some would handle mundane tasks and send telemetry to far-off control centers, some would inform the next generation of smart cities, and still, others would allow us all to build the long-promised smart homes of the future.
Now, though, in 2020, it looks like the IoT is taking a bit of a slower path to mass adoption than many people expected. Part of the reason for that is that the infrastructure needed to support it doesn’t yet exist in most places. But there is one place where the infrastructure wasn’t a problem – manufacturing. And predictably, it is in manufacturing where IoT technology has made the fastest inroads. But the question remains – is IoT proving useful in manufacturing? Here’s a look at the hurdles that IoT in manufacturing faced and where IoT technology is already taking off.
Augmenting and Replacing Legacy Systems
One of the biggest barriers to mass IoT adoption in many industrial and manufacturing settings is that the technology wasn’t always compatible with pre-existing legacy systems. That meant that many manufacturers faced a catch-22 when it came to IoT adoption. They could either build out networks of connected devices to work in parallel with existing systems, or they could redesign their processes and equipment from the ground up with IoT in mind.
For the businesses that chose the former, a big hurdle was figuring out how to have IoT sensors and other new technology play nice with their manufacturing execution systems (MESs). To bridge the gap, several MES vendors started evolving their systems to accommodate the array of new devices manufacturers wanted to use. Today, the biggest decision manufacturers face is the choice between cloud-based MES vs. on-premise MES solutions, almost all of which are IoT-capable.
With that hurdle cleared, the adoption of IoT in manufacturing exploded. Even when taking the effects of the coronavirus pandemic into account, the industrial slice of the IoT sector is expected to grow at a CAGR of 16.7% through 2027 – to a whopping $263.4 billion annually.
Where IoT is Already Impacting Manufacturers
With their ability to integrate IoT technology now taken care of, manufacturers of all stripes started putting the technology to work. Already, it’s been improving efficiency, safety, and future planning processes for early adopters. Examples include:
Energy Efficiency Gains
One of the biggest ongoing operating costs associated with manufacturing facilities is driven by the sheer amount of energy they consume to operate. It’s also an area where IoT technology is making a significant impact. By using data on manufacturing equipment gathered in real-time by IoT sensor networks, manufacturers can build detailed models of their energy usage patterns. Doing so can allow them to reorganize manufacturing processes to shift energy-hungry processes to off-peak hours when electricity rates are lower.