The technology industry is diverse and full of amazing innovations changing the way we live and work. But there’s always one area that stands out and keeps garnering massive interest, whether it be in the form of talk or actual investment.
Without a doubt, the Internet of Things is one, and it’s turned into a revolution. We’re already using technology such as wearables, smart meters and connected cars in the millions. And uptake will only continue to grow as the years go on.
According to Gartner, there’ll be a staggering 6.4 billion objects connected to the internet by the end of 2016, a growth of 30% when compared to 2015 statistics. By 2020, this statistic will more than double, reaching 20.8 billion.
While this technology is making waves in the consumer world, it’s also capable of doing great things in more industrious industries. In particular, manufacturing is reaping the rewards of connected technology. McKinsey Global Institute claims that, in 2025, industrial IoT tech will be worth $2.3 trillion – so there’s clearly interest. We look at the benefits of tech in this area.
IoT devices and solutions create masses of data, and while it can often be hard to manage, there are many ways companies can benefit from it. In the case of manufacturing, firms can use big data analytics to generate insights into the production process.
Igor Llunin, delivery manager at global tech consulting firm DataArt, explains that manufacturers can deploy connected sensors and other technologies to help monitor expensive machinery equipment while they’re in action. Devices could even notify them when something goes wrong.
“The introduction of IoT into manufacturing will revolutionise the entire process of production, transforming it into a data-driven paradigm which will open vast opportunities across the industry,” he says.
“This growing IoT adoption will help with the gathering of data and allow better insight and control of the manufacturing process. Soon, I expect to see the widespread introduction of low-cost sensors and connected devices that will merge to form a range of IoT platforms that will monitor the manufacturing process from start to finish.
“Predictive maintenance algorithms will be running against real-time captured data to alert managers of the possibility of machine failure or malfunctions in the near future. It is even possible that the IoT platform will autonomously suspend the production process and only allow resumption once the machine has been inspected.”
Research and development phases play a crucial role in the manufacturing industry. Companies, after all, need to create products that actually work and that consumers want. Otherwise, they would risk not getting a return on their investment.
Unfortunately, these processes can be timely and costly. However, IoT here to help. Christina Valimaki, senior director of chemicals at Elsevier, says modern manufacturers can virtualise this process with the latest connected technology and big data approaches.
“One of the most costly endeavours for manufacturers is R&D into new materials. Pursuing the most promising material or chemical innovation prospects for competitive advantage requires deep cross-disciplinary knowledge. No human could possibly have a broad and deep enough knowledge to map enough potential research paths, but using big data, the processing power of intelligent machines can,” she tells us.
“By drawing on huge data sources from across a wide range of issues, such systems can decrease the time it takes to create a viable product by simultaneously drawing on multidisciplinary sources, to run thousands of virtual experiments; the most promising of which researchers can then attempt to replicate in the real world.”
The rise of automation
Automation is another given in industries such as manufacturing. Many companies are implementing robotics to drive productivity and efficiency. While there are concerns that automation is resulting in job losses, some people believe that it’s actually doing more good than bad.
Mark Armstrong, VP and MD of EMEA at global app development company Progress, says this technology can help boost worker efficiency. And IoT will play a big role in this area over the next few years. “Industry 4.0 involves the computerisation of machinery and automation using robotics, as well as the intelligent measurement and analysis of data to improve efficiency, profitability and safety,” he tells us.
“Companies that introduce automation and more flexible production techniques to manufacturing can boost productivity by as much as 30%. Plus predictive maintenance of assets can save companies up to 12% over scheduled repairs, reduce overall maintenance costs by up to 30% and eliminate breakdowns by 70%.
“These automation technologies will be driven by advanced sensors, big data technologies and intelligent machine applications that will harvest contextual data, manage, analyse and serve it back to the user or device as relevant information, all in real time.”
There’s no denying that the Internet of Things is an exciting sector that’s constantly growing and spawning out new possibilities. However, it’s not limited to consumer world. The potential is also limitless in the world of big industry, especially manufacturing. Although firms are still experimenting with the tech, they’re already discovering the benefits.