A few short decades ago, the idea of embedded chips and sensors in physical objects probably sounded impossible and suspect, but the Internet of Things has made the concept all too real and incredibly useful.

The Internet of Things, or IoT, refers to a physical device that is connected to the internet. Thanks to the development and availability of cheap computer chips (yes, there’s still a shortage), just about anything can now become a connected device. Something as big as an airplane to as small as a pill can be part of the IoT.

The IoT allows seamless communication between people, things, and processes. Some of the technologies that have made IoT possible include increased connectivity, cloud computing platforms, machine learning and analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI).

This technology has transformed many aspects of everyday life, from cooking to driving to purchasing goods. According to IoT Analytics, there were roughly 12.3 billion IoT devices by the end of 2021, and there will likely be over 27 billion IoT connections by 2025, a 119% increase over the next three years.

The Growth of IoT in the Manufacturing Industry

Manufacturing, one of the world’s biggest industries, has also been a major adopter of IoT technology over the past several years. Industrial IoT (IIoT) refers to the application of IoT technology in industrial settings, particularly with respect to the control of devices and sensors and instrumentation that drive various systems and technologies.

Thanks to increased consumer demand, rising competition, and a staggeringly complex supply chain, many companies have adopted smart manufacturing to simplify and improve industrial activities.

Cisco reports that manufacturing is the sector with the most to gain from IoT in the coming years, with a potential economic impact of $3.9 trillion by 2025. According to a PwC survey, 91% of manufacturing companies plan to invest in smart manufacturing and IoT, and 75% have already invested in digital factories to improve efficiency and production quality. McKinsey research reports that, by 2025, improvements driven by IoT solutions could be worth over $470 billion annually. 

Uses for IoT in Manufacturing

IoT is revolutionizing several aspects of manufacturing operations, from the supply chain to the shop floor to remote and third-party operations. Here are some of the primary uses for IoT applications in manufacturing. 

1. Remote Production Control

IoT devices allow manufacturing companies to monitor, configure, and control their equipment remotely. Employees can remotely collect data about ongoing processes, make necessary adjustments, and monitor equipment. 

2. Industrial Asset Management

Using IoT devices, manufacturers have access to real-time information on all of their assets for tracking and management purposes. The assets that you can track include mobile warehouse equipment, vehicles delivering goods or raw materials, and inventory. This monitoring allows a manufacturer to improve its processes and reduce bottlenecks. 

3. Predictive Equipment Repair

The resulting delays can be costly when equipment goes down during the manufacturing process. Likewise, tracking maintenance schedules for multiple machines by hand can be challenging. With IoT embedded in manufacturing equipment, you get real-time data regarding maintenance schedules and any malfunctions so that staff can quickly take preventative measures to keep operations online. 

4. Plant Safety Monitoring

Unfortunately, manufacturing environments are also hazardous places to work. The good news is that IoT technology can make them safer. Some industrial sectors, like oil & gas, mining, and transportation, equip workers with RFID tags that collect data on their location and wearable sensors that transmit data on skin temperature, heart rate, and other parameters. When unusual items are detected that could impact a worker’s safety or health, the employer can immediately intervene. 

5. Digital Twins

The IoT strategy known as Digital Twins refers to the ability of a manufacturer to create digital copies of physical objects, allowing the operation to develop various valuable simulations. These can help a manufacturer with things like prototype creation, machine tolerance testing, and the creation of new production processes.

Benefits of IoT in Manufacturing

More and more manufacturers are interested in IoT because it has the potential to transform their business in various ways. 

1. Better Cost-Efficiency

Some of the most costly aspects of manufacturing are materials, energy, and losses caused by downtime. IoT allows manufacturers to automate their production, resulting in a drastic reduction in operations costs. A manufacturer can eliminate many costly issues and improve overall results through a combination of optimized asset management and predictive maintenance

2. Faster Time-to-Market

It can be challenging to reconfigure a manufacturing operation to respond to market changes, but IoT can create a more seamless process of making the changes necessary to get new products to market or in response to a supply chain issue. 

3. Higher Customer Satisfaction

In such a competitive marketplace, customer satisfaction has become a vital concern. IoT technology provides manufacturers with the tools necessary to reduce defects in the manufacturing process and eliminate delays in materials handling and logistics. When consumers get the products they want when they want them, customer satisfaction rates will soar, as will business results. 

4. Improved Decision-Making

When it comes to elevating your business, data is everything. IoT-based sensors give you access to real-time data about machinery, inventory, other assets, and workers. This information equips a business with powerful insights that can facilitate better-informed business decisions. 

Get the Most Out of IoT in Your Manufacturing Business

These uses for IoT in manufacturing are fantastic, but is your business getting the most leverage out of these solutions?

The data you get from IoT devices can be valuable when analyzed quickly and accurately. Hertzler’s GainSeeker Platform can help your business take its IoT solutions to the next level. Integrate with systems and data you already own, get actionable data about your operations, and achieve more visibility throughout your business.

GainSeeker can be run either locally or on the cloud, allowing you to maximize every facet of your manufacturing business for better overall results. Schedule a demo to experience firsthand how this solution can benefit your business or check out these case studies to learn how GainSeeker has increased productivity, efficiency, and savings for our customers.