What is the Industrial Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the use of the internet in physical devices and everyday objects. IoT is a very broad concept as the “thing” can refer to a wide range of objects such as a vehicle with sensors, a person with a wearable heart monitor, or an animal with a transponder. In fact, the “thing” in IoT can be any object that can be assigned an IP address and is able to transfer data over a network – making the range of possibilities for IoT endless! For more information on the IoT, click here.
Companies across various industries are using IoT to operate more efficiently, access real-time data to enhance decision-making, and add value to the business. From smart homes with IoT devices such as smart lighting, thermostats, and TVs to wearable medical devices that monitor blood pressure or heart rate to smart factories with automated manufacturing, IoT technologies are present in nearly every industry.
There are branches of the IoT that focus on connected devices for certain industries. For example, the Industrial Internet of Things, referred to as IIoT, is the use of IoT technologies across sectors like manufacturing, transportation, and energy to optimize operations. This form of smart manufacturing has automated many design and production processes, allowing for better flow of information through the entire manufacturing chain and improved efficiencies due to use of robotics on manufacturing lines.
Benefits of Industrial IoT
IoT technologies give companies the opportunity to rethink the way they approach their business and provide new tools to improve business strategies. IoT technologies provide companies and people with access to real-time information that empower them with more knowledge – so it is no surprise that one of the biggest benefits of IoT is the flow of faster and higher quality information. This results in many advantages for companies such as more informed and better decision making, and the ability to monitor the overall business health. Additionally, with more connected devices that require little to no human intervention, the flow of information from machine-to-machine is faster – improving efficiency, saving time, and allowing personnel to focus on more value-add tasks.
Specific to manufacturing, the IIoT rapidly connects business lines that have historically been “silos”, allowing data sharing across business lines as well as from the production floor to executives. This shift in data availability and sharing provides company leaders with a more accurate picture of manufacturing health and enables better decision making.
The IIoT greatly enhances efficiency and scalability – providing companies and customers with time and cost savings. The IIoT is able to provide cost savings due to predictive maintenance, improved safety, higher productivity, and operational efficiencies that result in more throughput. Additionally, the IIoT allows manufacturers to quickly identify and adjust production – allowing for nimble operations that capitalize on market conditions and deliver products to the market place faster.
The IIoT is revolutionizing manufacturing by enabling the efficient collection of - and access to - large quantities of data instantaneously – and the result what is called “smart manufacturing”. Digital manufacturers not only produce IoT devices for customers, but apply the IoT to their own manufacturing processes. Manufacturing has historically consisted of standalone equipment that has minimal information exchange amongst machines and limited data collection across a plant. Smart manufacturing with its increased connectivity reduces the amount of human intervention needed to collect and analyze data. Additionally, digital manufacturing has automated many processes, providing traceability through all phases of manufacturing as well as the ability to communicate information as local as a specific machine or as high level as the entire plant. Below are some examples of where the Internet of Things is being applied in manufacturing:
- IoT software performs automated analysis of 3D CAD models in order to optimize part designs –minimizing potential production issues.
- 3D printers, CNC machines, and injection molding presses are all connected – directly linking the design and production phases. The software communicates directly to the machine, providing the digital design instructions to be executed during production.
- Smart devices continuously track the status of products, providing real-time schedules and order priority directly to the shop floor. Additionally, this information allows manufacturers to communicate accurate schedules and order timing to customers.
- Inspection processes are also part of digital manufacturing. Smart scanners compare the final product to the original design to ensure specifications are met. Feedback is provided directly to the production floor machines so any necessary adjustments can be made - resulting in higher repeatability and a lower rejection rate!
- Smart machines monitor their own health, collecting data that is used for preventative maintenance as well as alerting of potential failure points. This level of detail is extremely valuable as it avoids potential downtimes and optimizes machine maintenance – saving manufacturers and customers money and time!
Smart manufacturing is a major innovation, and companies and customers that have embraced the IIoT have seen significant improvements to safety, efficiency, and profitability. The IIoT is expected to continue to expand as more and more manufacturers adopt this new way of doing business.
Crescent Industries is committed to utilizing the latest technologies. OEMs turn to us because we combine molding expertise with advanced manufacturing facilities and robotic integration. We are well positioned to partner with OEMs to take advantage of the growth potential within the rapidly expanding IoT space.
Crescent Industries is an employee-owned custom injection molder providing an integrated single source solution for your custom plastic injection molded components utilizing our advanced engineering capabilities. Our capabilities allow us to mold a comprehensive range of engineered and commodity grade resins. Crescent currently serves the medical, pharmaceutical, dental, defense, safety, electrical/electronic, aerospace and OEM/Industrial markets.
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