Nowadays, the Internet of Things and the Industrial Internet of Things are changing the manufacturing process. Improving operational efficiency is the objective of IoT for any company that decides to incorporate it in its processes, so, they address the growing demand for product customization and changing customer expectations.

As a result, 86% of manufacturing companies have already chosen IIoT solutions, with 84% reporting they found them extremely effective, according to a 2017 Bsquare IIoT maturity survey. Some of its benefits are:

  • Improves productivity.
  • Supercharges efficiency.
  • Drives competitive advantage.

The manufacturing industry’s spending on IoT solutions far exceeds that of any other industry, reaching $178 billion in 2016, more than double the second-largest market (transportation).

How do companies improve operational efficiency?

As we already know, in manufacturing IoT is an ecosystem that connects physical objects and other technologies to exchange data a improve operational efficiency towards digitization, but do you know how exactly do companies use IoT and its benefits? Let’s find out!

Lower Manufacturing Costs

Some of the big benefits of IoT that in the manufacturing process are the combination of:

  • Minimized machine downtime
  • Optimal asset and inventory management
  • Energy usage optimization
  • Agile operations
  • Supply chain management

Consequently, this will dramatically reduce manufacturing costs and shorten product cycle times. The use of IoT devices in the manufacturing industry will result in an additional economic value of between $1.2 and $3.7 trillion before 2025, McKinsey predicts.

Mass Product Customization Capabilities

Manufacturers will be able to create products that are specifically tailored to their customers’ needs using IoT solutions and process optimization tools. The complexity of inventory management will increase due to the changing manufacturing processes required to accommodate mass customization.

IoT solutions reduce this complexity by linking previously isolated parts of the production process. This allows for production to be scaled up and down easily, which results in happier customers and lower waste. Companies can use these solutions to track changes in demand and forecast production. Over 76% of early adopters claim IoT solutions are increasing insight into customer preferences.

Above all, IoT process optimization tools can be adopted by discrete manufacturers to provide them with data that will enable them to:

  • Improve operational efficiency
  • Manage complex production cycles
  • Increase profitability and operations
  • Reduce production cycle
  • Incorporate predictive maintenance

Security and Safety Enhancements in the Manufacturing Industry

Manufacturing is a high-risk industry. Cybersecurity and safety at work are two of the top concerns. The ILO (International Labor Organization) revealed that 151 workers have a work-related accident every minute. Meanwhile, manufacturing was recently ranked the most at-risk industry for cyberattacks.

When it comes to the adoption of new IIoT platforms, security is the most important feature.

IoT wearable devices improve operational efficiency by monitoring workers’ health and tracking high-risk activities in hazardous environments. They can also reduce accidents by collecting vital data, for example:

  • Location.
  • Heart rate.
  • Temperature.
  • Gas leaks.

IoT solutions addressing safety concerns could save companies $220 billion on injury and illness costs.

Enhanced Supply Chain Visibility & Accessibility

More than half of supply chain managers regard end-to-end supply chain visibility as a long way off, but IoT technologies will accelerate progress toward this goal. IoT will provide visibility into field operations, the manufacturing supply chain, and remote or outsourced operations, filling the gaps that ERP and MES systems cannot (due to their need for manual data input).

The supply chain can be integrated with IoT technology to provide detailed information about products, including their location during transit, properties, and stock levels.

Asset Management Made Easy to improve operational efficiency

IoT applications facilitate better asset management in manufacturing including, for instance, tracking, inventory management, and predictive maintenance. 

This will increase reliability, prolong equipment life, and give manufacturers a higher return on their investment. Zebra’s 2017 Manufacturing Vision Study found that smart asset tracking will overtake old-school approaches by 2022, saving manufacturers between 20-50% in inventory carrying costs.

Process Optimization Tools

According to IoT Analytics, IIoT Platforms For Manufacturing 2019-2024, there are three areas in which manufacturers most rely on IIoT platforms for industry transformation:

  • General process optimization: 43.1%
  • General dashboards & visualization: 41.1%
  • Condition monitoring: 32.7%

IBM reported that adopting IIoT insights for process optimization will increase product count by up to 20%.

IoT-assisted condition monitors can be used by manufacturers to improve operational efficiency, detect delays in operations and identify malfunctioning or underperforming machinery so that they can address them quickly. IoT devices can quickly identify the problem and fix it before it escalates.