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12 Examples of IoT in Manufacturing: Simple Solutions to Common Problems

The Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) is revolutionizing the manufacturing industry. If you’re not keeping pace with the latest innovations, you’re falling behind. But how do you know where to start?

In this article, we offer twelve examples of IoT in manufacturing that we’ve personally implemented for past and current clients using our IoT solution ProphecyIoT. We’ll explain the common issues these IoT in manufacturing examples solve and how they work. Let’s dive in.


1. Predictive Maintenance

When it comes to machine maintenance, traditional maintenance schedules can be inefficient. Often, when your scheduled maintenance comes due, your technician either reports that all machines are fine and need no work, or that a few machines are in critically bad shape. In the first scenario, you just paid for maintenance you didn’t need. In the second, you now have to contend with unexpected downtime and possibly replacing a whole machine because maintenance didn’t come soon enough.

The problems traditional maintenance creates are:

  • Inefficient maintenance schedules
  • Unplanned downtime
  • Unnecessary expenses
  • Disruptions in production schedules

IoT in manufacturing solves these problems with predictive maintenance. By implementing IoT sensors and predictive analytics, your manufacturing team can monitor equipment in real time, detect anomalies in the production process, and predict potential failures before they happen.

Predictive maintenance is a proactive approach that reduces downtime, lowers overall maintenance costs, and improves machine reliability.


2. Supply Chain Management

As we’ve all been reminded in recent years, supply chain disruptions can happen suddenly and last for a painfully long time. Whether it’s a global pandemic or a trucker strike, these delays result in uncertainty that not only damages your business, but those of your clients. Traditional supply chain management strategies offer very little insight into the process.

You’re left dealing with delays, inaccuracies in inventory tracking, inventory stockouts, production delays, and higher operational costs.

IoT solutions offer real time visibility into all stages of the process. IoT-enabled supply chain management systems provide real-time data on inventory levels, shipment statuses, and vendor performance. Vendors can even access portals to update information and communicate with your procurement team in real time. This added visibility allows your team to optimize inventory levels, streamline logistics, and improve efficiency and responsiveness.


3. Asset Tracking

Asset tracking is one of the most accessible examples of IoT in manufacturing, making it unlikely that you or your competitors are still tracking assets manually. However, you might be using outdated systems that cause frustrating errors, misplaced assets, or even theft. More commonly, assets just aren’t being used as efficiently as they could be.

Examples of IoT in manufacturing and asset tracking include RFID tags, GPS trackers, and sensors that monitor the location, condition, and usage of assets in real time. IoT-enabled asset trackers improve visibility, prevent loss, and improve asset utilization and efficiency. 


4. Digital Twins

Digital twins are becoming increasingly popular across all manufacturing industries, from plastics to aerospace to furniture to automotive. Before digital twins, manufacturers struggled with limited insights into equipment performance, operation inefficiencies, and challenges in predictive maintenance planning.

With the advent of digital twins, your team can create virtual replicas of physical assets and processes that function exactly as the physical version does. This means you can simulate scenarios, monitor performance, and optimize operations in the moment. Digital twins allow you to test equipment and products without consequence, enabling predictive maintenance, better decision-making, and giving your team a boost in productivity and innovation during the manufacturing process.


5. Remote Monitoring

Without remote monitoring, your stakeholders have virtually no ability to monitoring distributed assets or equipment health unless they show up to the facility. And even then, they can only see what’s happening while they’re there.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have that same visibility anywhere, any time?

With IoT-enabled remote monitoring systems, you can. Remote monitoring systems collect data from sensors installed on equipment and facilities. It can even include tech worn by employees to monitor productivity. This means leadership can have real-time insights into the performance, condition, and operational status of equipment. It also allows managers to remotely manage assets, diagnose production issues, and reduce the frequency of onsite inspections.


6. Quality Control

Without a technologically-backed quality control process, manufacturers have to content with inconsistent product quality, defects, costly rework, and client dissatisfaction. This can happen as a result of a poor and laborious manual inspection process or outdated quality control tech.

Fortunately, IoT-based quality control systems take your process to the next level. By integrated sensors, cameras, and data analytics into your quality control team’s workflows, your staff can efficiently monitor production processes, detect defects, and ensure compliance with quality standards with ease. Improved product quality saves manufacturers money by reducing rework and waste, and most importantly, improves the customer experience.


7. Automation

Modern technology is all about automation. Why? Because humans are more likely to make errors when they are forced to do repetitive and tedious manual tasks. It decreases employee morale, resulting in lower productivity and higher labor costs.

Automation doesn’t have to be a job stealer. In fact, most employees would rather be doing innovative tasks, problem-solving, and feeling like they’re making a bigger impact on the business.

IoT-driven automation technologies remove the busy work, optimize workflows, and improve communication and collaboration between machines and people. Your staff can spend more time on relationship-building and performing meaningful tasks while your business receives the benefits of fewer errors and lower operational costs.


8. Inventory Management

Traditional inventory management strategies are also plagued by human error, leading to inaccurate data, overstocking, stockouts, poor warehouse management, and inventory shrinkage.

Inventory management systems integrated with IIoT use sensors and RFID technology to automatically and accurately track inventory levels, monitor stock movements and manage warehouse operations in real time. For this reason, lean and agile manufacturers love manufacturing IoT.


9. Advanced Analytics and Forecasting

Data analysts can perform better using IoT solutions. Without IoT, they have limited visibility into market trends and demand fluctuations. This results in forecasting inaccuracies. After all, data-backed decisions are worthless if you’re working with incomplete or inaccurate data.

With IoT in manufacturing, the sheer wealth of data being collected will launch you into forecasting possibilities your analytics team could only dream of. On top of that, advanced analytics platforms are able to organize and analyze the data collected from IoT devices, production systems, and external sources to generate reports, predictive models, and demand forecasts. Insights include ways your team can optimize workflows, lower operational costs, and meet customer demand effectively.


10. ERP Interoperability

If you’re unable to connect your data collection devices to your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, you risk lost potential. Data is siloed and must be entered manually, resulting in increased labor, data inconsistencies, and a lack of communication.

Fortunately, IoT solutions like ProphecyIoT are easily integrated with your holistic ERP system. The benefits of connecting your IoT solution to your overarching ERP system include real-time data capture from all manufacturing operations, increased collaboration, consistent data across the entire company, visibility into supply chain activities, and so much more. This end-to-end visibility is a game changer when it comes to maintaining control and confidence over your business.


11. Workforce Efficiency and Safety

If your workforce suffers from on-the-job injuries, accidents, compliance issues, productivity issues, or a lack of understanding of where your employees are investing their time and energy, it’s time to equip them with smart technology.

IoT-based workforce management solutions monitor employee health and safety. It can also track work activities, provide real-time alerts, and improve safety compliance. Technology like smart watches can monitor their temperature and heart rate and alert managers to any physical problems they might be having. This ensures that your valued employees enjoy a safer work environment, as well as increasing productivity and employee satisfaction.


12. Edge Computing

Some of our clients have had smart technology in place, but were frustrated by slow speeds, data processing bottlenecks, and limitations in real-time analytics, resulting in slower decision-making.

Today, edge computing can solve these latency issues. Edge computing is the ability of an IoT device to process and transmit data locally, from device to device, without having to access the main server first. This improves bandwidth usage and data processing speeds, making your business more agile.


Need More IoT in Manufacturing Examples?

Reach out to our experts at ProphecyIoT. We’ve helped hundreds of businesses improve their operational practices and regain their competitive edge by bringing them into Industry 4.0 via IIoT implementation. For every problem, there is a solution, and in manufacturing, it’s often an IoT solution. Request a consultation today.

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