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Mastering Smart Manufacturing though IoT Technology: Delivering Industry 4.0 through Sustainable Digital Transformation

Industry 4.0 is at its zenith, with the new trends and technologies transforming the way businesses are run. Also referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, it encompasses the amalgamation of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. The traditional models of production are shifting towards newer approaches, such as smart manufacturing and smart factory. They focus on how manufacturers can utilize digitalization to function more effectively and efficiently in a rapidly shifting ecosystem. But the critical glue that connects every element of digitalization is IoT technology. Yes, you really cannot imagine a connected factory, effortless workflow management, well-connected plant operations, or efficient inventory management without the support of intelligent IoT sensors, devices, and platforms.

The core idea of smart factory or Industry 4.0 is to bring intelligence to the operation of manufacturing systems through digital technologies. These digital technologies require the crucial support of IoT to streamline complex manufacturing processes by allowing devices, sensors, and controls to collect and share information. With the power of data-driven insights from IoT technologies, manufacturers can leverage technologies such as advanced robotics and artificial intelligence efficiently to work smarter and achieve better outcomes than ever before.

 

Optimization in Operations

The focus of Industry 4.0 is more on optimization than invention. With IoT, and its ability to capture, collate, and analyze data to derive extensive insights, companies are reducing the risk of unexpected failures while optimizing usage. Today, IoT sensors and advanced analytics help to detect even the smallest error during the production cycle, thanks to their ability to monitor the entire spectrum of asset and process parameters. This minimizes waste and cycle time. Smart IoT-driven sensors are an asset in operation-critical areas such as inventory management. IoT-based sensors and tags track extensive information about every inventory item, which helps identify the element with ease. It also helps in ensuring safe storage conditions for sensitive items (e.g, temperature, humidity, etc.). In addition, these sensors can also quickly determine the location of every inventory item extremely easily, thus helping you achieve optimal inventory management easily.

IoT also helps with crucial data insights, delivering smart patterns and forecasts for optimizing operations. For example, a consistent parameter value, say, turnaround delay at a step in the pattern study can help identify a specific element of an asset, a performer, or a process that needs attention.

Tracking the supply chain

The key feature of a smart factory is to improve the interconnections between separate facilities. Digitalization makes it possible to track every aspect of the supply chain, from the real-time movements of raw materials to work in progress and finished goods. This enables organizations to anticipate needs much earlier, predict supply chain events and pre-empt interruptions. In addition, processes can be optimized to eliminate waste and non-value adding activities.

Facility management

The data generated by IoT-enabled sensors is capable of boosting performance by increasing efficiency and reducing costs. The use of IoT sensors in manufacturing equipment enables condition-based maintenance alerts. This ensures that the prescribed working environment for machinery is maintained, which in turn leads to conservation of energy and increased operational efficiency. Additionally, IoT technologies will notify when maintenance is needed and facility managers are informed well ahead of a breakdown. These timely alerts and preset response protocols exponentially improve operational response to process and asset performance disruptions. With increased optimization, the operational productivity also shows a steep increase.

Mass customization

Based on the technological concepts of IoT and data mining, Industry 4.0 will enable unprecedented forms of customization. This includes the ability to customize mass-produced products to each individual buyer’s specifications. Direct inputs of customer needs to design will enable companies to produce personalized products. This  will happen within minimized cycle-times and at lower costs than mass production. Thus, you can contain costs and increase customer satisfaction.

Safe and smart labor

IoT technology is transforming how employees work, taking over their routine tasks. Real-time operational insights help with smarter business decisions and reduce operating costs. In manufacturing, safety is always of prime concern. IoT sensors and connected devices can detect malfunctioning systems which can help prevent injury to employees. A connected production floor and IoT sensors-enabled employee ID cards help monitor their efficiency and safety in potentially dangerous working conditions.

Industry 4.0 is a fundamental shift, from the traditional automation to a fully connected and flexible system; where stakeholders can use the data from connected operations and production systems to learn and adapt to changes. The possibilities and opportunities are limitless. But to stay ahead of the competition in this world of digitalization you need the magic touch of IoT technology. This technology is revolutionizing the way companies are doing business and ushering in a new era in the manufacturing industry.