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Remote monitoring IoT strategies for discrete manufacturing

seIn any manufacturing industry, particularly in one with geographically distributed assets, reliable monitoring of assets (people, process, and equipment) can be quite a challenge. This challenge arises from multiple causes. For example, onsite staff may be limited or critical equipment failure can occur without warning, creating blockades along the chain. In this situation, remote monitoring presents a solution for these challenges, allowing the access of data without limits of physical location. Thus, as more discrete devices become networked and connected, IoT applications have enabled new heights of remote monitoring capabilities for manufacturing. With IoT technology–enabled remote monitoring, organizations are able to source data from assets, lines, and plants from anywhere, enhancing their maintenance, repair, and operation programs.

discrete manufacturing

Why is remote monitoring so critical?

Remote monitoring solutions in manufacturing aid in the visibility of your asset at all times: where the equipment is, what it is doing and whether it needs preventive maintenance. It helps to

 

  • Improve process visibility and decrease downtime.
  • Avert failure of machinery and expand its lifespan by predictive maintenance.
  • Facilitate effective monitoring and minimize labor costs.
  • Keep the process flowing by real-time tracking of remote equipment.

 

Consider a manufacturing plant that uses wireless vibration and temperature data acquisition sensory devices installed on critical equipment. This IoT device setup sends all the captured information to a secure management center in the cloud, where decision-makers can access the data both remotely and on location. The IoT sensors provide an alert if the temperature or vibration reading on the asset reaches a certain threshold. The sensors have a powerful automated shutdown mechanism in case the values cross critical limits. The technicians have devices that deliver those alerts to them. Due to the early notification, the technicians go to the remote asset and corrective action is taken before a malfunction or crisis. Thus remote monitoring lets manufacturers access the status in real time from any device, averting delay or break down in the process chain.

3 critical elements of remote monitoring

For enterprises undertaking remote monitoring through IoT, there are three elements to take cognizance of.

1. Identify where and which data to be collected

The first step is to identify a business process and the elements of the process that an IoT solution with remote monitoring capabilities should address. You should decide this based on where you want to attain the highest level of efficiency in. As the number of IoT devices and IoT sensors grows, the volume of data sources increases rapidly. Thus the data for remote monitoring systems are usually generated from the sensors that are connected to electronic devices. The source of data also ranges from computers and smartphones to any other device that can emit data. Hence, figure out what you want to monitor, why you want to monitor it, the costs associated with it and how the data monitoring will improve your business.

2. Identify the network gateway and architecture

As enterprises get ready to enable remote monitoring, it has to select the best available network architecture. There are many pre-engineered remote monitoring solutions available today that manufacturers can install across a diverse range of equipment. Your remote monitoring system must have a network gateway that allows you to collect data securely and reliably. All data moving to and from the cloud goes through the gateway. It provides a place to preprocess that data locally at the edge before sending it on to the cloud. When you perform edge analytics on the gateway, it minimizes the volume of data that you need to send to the cloud, which impacts response times and data transmission costs.

3. Identify who will use the data and its security

Next, you have to determine who within your organization will have access to the data for analytics and diagnosis. You need to have technology and employees with the necessary skills to interpret data. With IoT device–connected remote monitoring, enterprises should consider the security of the devices and communications as their priority. Ensure that information that passes through a wireless remote monitoring system is valid and untampered. Using data without an integrity check may result in serious damages. It is imperative to make the IoT system secure from the ground up to have safe wireless network infrastructure.

 

In an increasingly competitive digital aeconomy, remote monitoring platforms have become a necessity for manufacturers. It boosts productivity, by identifying issues before they occur, keeping stakeholders informed and helping organizations to more efficiently allocate internal resources.

 

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