IoT empowering “Industry 4.0”
What is IoT?
In our day to day life, we come across many technologies like wearable health bands tracking heart rate, vehicle sensor tracking location, google home connected to multiple appliances, and the list goes on. What makes these technological devices ‘smart’ is their unique ability to sense and communicate with other devices and take actions. These devices/sensors or alternatively named as ‘things’ are capable of communicating with other ‘things’ over the ‘Internet’ to exchange information and take decisions. This creates a whole new world of possibilities that is named as the ‘Internet of Things’.
Origin of “IoT”:
The age of IoT began in mid 2008, but originally this term was coined by a person named ‘Kevin Ashton’ in 1999, while he was working in Proctor and Gamble. This was his new idea to link the supply chain to the internet.
What is Industry 4.0?
Industry 4.0 is the fourth great revolution for the manufacturing industry incorporating digitization at its core. Industry 4.0 and Industrial IoT are terms often used interchangeably but differ fundamentally as
Industry 4.0 is the fourth revolution whereas Industrial IoT is an enabler for the fourth revolution. The third industrial revolution brought upon a sudden drastic change in technology involving automation and IT which was difficult to adopt. Industry 4.0 is the optimized version of the third industrial revolution simplifying automation and increasing productivity.
1) IoT enables Visibility:
The most common questions asked by executives in the manufacturing industry are – “Where are my Reports?”, “Why am I receiving these reports so late?”, “Are these reports authentic ?”. These are a few dilemmas which all manufacturing executives ask from big MNCs to SMEs and this is where the IIoT comes into the picture. Practically, if devices do not record data automatically from the machines then most likely it is added manually by hand and there is a good chance that data can be incorrect. Secondly, this is not scalable across all locations and plants. It is next to impossible to get this data “authentic” by human efforts. That’s where the advantages of IIoT comes in. IIoT brings ‘Visibility’ at the product level. With ‘things’ sensing all types of information from machines, it gives real-time visibility towards the production of each unit. This solves all the questions mentioned above and goes further to provide a 360-degree overview of the production system. This visibility can be at the global level, plant level, floor level Or even at each assembly line level.
This enables Manufacturers to view data at real-time and take decisions according to the situation which will save precious time to keep the assembly line running all the time.
We have had manufacturers who have installed 55″ screens in their plants where a real-time Dashboard is displayed all around the clock and everyone can see the progress of shifts/day so far, with near real-time data.
Imagine your company has 5 locations around the globe, and there are 5 screens at the headquarters/ main office lobby where the progress of each plant is displayed at the real time. IIoT 4.0 is the only way to get this into reality.
2) Re-active maintenance transformed into pro-active (and predictive) maintenance with the help of IoT:
I was working for a billion Dollar Printer company. Their main business was to rent their printers (Smart printers) and they billed their customers according to the number of pages printed. So an increased number of pages converts into more business generating more revenue. The typical customers being big banks, where they have multiple printers on the same floor in case something goes wrong like paper jams, the other printers are used as backups and hence the printer being unused results into loss of billing. They added sensors on the printers which send data every 15 minutes. In the case of a printer getting jammed, the support personnel who are in the same area, receive a text message with customer details and that printer would be fixed within a few hours. Losses from machines being unproductive can be saved using pro-active alerts. Once this level is achieved, the same data would be processed via machine learning algorithms which could predict when the next failure might happen. Typical parameters used for this can be the number of pages printed, the age of cartridge, toner conduction and many more.
The possibility of reducing downtime and predicting the next possible failure of machines can be a big saving for any company. This kind of feature is not available for many of the Indian SME’s and IIoT is the only solution which can make this possible.
3) IoT improves Quality and Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE):
In the manufacturing industry, OEE (Overall Operational Efficiency) is one of the most important metrics being calculated. OEE can be calculated at the plant level, floor level, organizations level. Basically, OEE is a calculated measurement of maximum productivity theoretically vs measurement of actual productivity of a machine. There are 3 factors to it which are Productivity, Quality, and Losses. Companies are finding innovative ways to improve Production and Quality but at the same time cut down on losses. Implementation of IoT gives companies a 360-degree view of each product, measure the quality of the product and it can also help to cut down on losses in real time or near real time.
We helped our manufacturing customers control their costs (Cost of consumables, power, gas). With the help of IIoT implementation, they were able to extract the data of all the machines from every robot to understand gas consumption, power consumption between intervals of a minute. The collected data was then processed and used to forecast the costs for a month. After every shift, they could analyze the patterns of all costs incurred along with all types of variances. Plant managers have the ability to see these patterns for every type of cost for each hour (which can be more detailed to each minute and second also). Every day, they were able to improve OEE and improved their OEE by 20% across all plants globally within a span of a few weeks.
Either with all or a combination of the aspects above, IIoT has the potential to help almost any manufacturing company to move it’s business forward and get ahead of their competition. Another great benefit is the increase in the bottom line which is noticed within a few months.