Adopting IIoT In Manufacturing – Opportunities & Challenges

Roland Kümin
November 1, 2022

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is a fundamental part of the Industry 4.0 revolution and has enabled the development of smart manufacturing systems and solutions.

IIoT sensors and devices are used in smart factories to automatically collect data and wirelessly transfer it to the cloud for processing and storage.

Useful real-time data insights and visualizations are generated by smart manufacturing software that analyzes data collected by IIoT sensors and stored in the cloud. IIoT sensors and devices often work autonomously behind the scenes and typically require zero maintenance.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the opportunities presented by IIoT technology, as well as the main challenges and how to overcome them.

IIoT technology – Manufacturing Opportunities

Granular data visibility

IIoT allows manufacturers to automatically collect and store machine data by linking sensors to the cloud through an IoT gateway. IIoT sensors can collect data on the physical properties of products such as distance, pressure, weight, level, visual appearance, as well as machine-based data such as uptime, downtime, and the physical condition of machinery. The sheer amount of data requires advanced smart software solutions to perform analysis, generate insights, and, in some cases, carry out automatic adjustments.

AI-enhanced quality management

IIoT technology can use ‘machine vision’, which applies automated visual sensors to detect and identify defects. If an AI engine is embedded into the system, it can learn to recognize ‘good’ products that pass quality assessments. When it encounters an anomaly, the system can alert the machine operator or manager, allowing them to rectify the problem.

Predictive maintenance

A report from McKinsey revealed that IIoT-driven predictive maintenance can reduce factory machinery costs by around 40% and cut downtime by 50%. IIoT sensors can be used to capture data on the condition of equipment parts such as motors, drives, and actuators. From the data, an accurate predictive model can be built. The model is trained by a machine learning engine to spot potential failures ahead of time, thus saving money and increasing productivity.

Optimize supply chain

Logistics and warehousing operations are major expenses for manufacturing companies. The combination of IIoT devices and smart manufacturing software can help to reduce costs and create a leaner supply chain. For instance, IIoT sensors and devices can streamline inventory management and delivery processes to prevent backlogs or the build up of surplus of stock.

IIoT technology – Manufacturing Challenges

Lack of strategic planning

The number one challenge for manufacturing companies is how to go from making small savings and efficiency gains to full optimization of their entire operation with smart technology.

IIoT is a fundamental part of the smart factory of the future, but to reach their goals, companies need to take a joined-up approach that links different processes.

A modular smart manufacturing platform such as O3 provides value engineering support and operational strategic planning to ensure that smart technology is implemented successfully. Our experts will assess your entire value chain and pinpoint opportunities to add IIoT devices, smart software, and AI automation, before staged implementation.

Cybersecurity threats

The Internet of Things is exposed to cyberthreats. Securing IoT systems is more complex than securing traditional IT networks as IIoT relies on end-to-end connectivity to enable all the devices and sensors. However, a large amount of manufacturing machinery and equipment still runs on legacy operating systems that may be vulnerable to cyberattack. IIoT cybersecurity systems should be applied to monitor a variety of protocols such as PROFINET, PROFIBUS, EtherNet/IP, Modbus etc. These systems can identify and prevent cyberthreats such as denial of service, device tampering, and spoofing.

Employee engagement

The ‘people factor’ is always important when it comes to implementing new technology. Adoption needs to be encouraged across the board through the engagement of operators and managers by describing the benefits and training people to use the new technology effectively.  

Futureproof your manufacturing operations with IIoT and smart technology

We are in a period of great change in the manufacturing industry. Global events and rapid technological advances mean that manufacturers must grasp the opportunity to get ahead of the curve and implement productivity and efficiency-enhancing smart systems.

However, the overall approach needs to be strategic and measured. IIoT and smart tech has the potential to provide a number of benefits for manufacturers if applied gradually in key operational areas, with a view to optimizing processes from end to end.

Here at O3, we have an expert team of value engineers, manufacturing specialists, and technology innovators who can help you to assess your operational needs and implement modular smart factory solutions that will transform your business.

Get in touch today to book a discovery call.

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