How IIoT Can Make Your Smart Factory Smarter

How IIoT Can Make Your Smart Factory Smarter
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The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is a hot topic in the field of factory automation right now, and IIoT technologies are already affecting industrial workflows. So, it's important to have a handle on the lingo, see how IIoT technologies work in smart factories, and get your company ready for tomorrow. 

First, let’s talk about smart manufacturing technology and see what a smart factory is.

What is a Smart Factory?

The manufacturing machinery in a smart factory is connected to the internal network. This links the supply chain with the other aspects of the manufacturing process. This comprehensive method offers the highest possible insight into the effectiveness of operations. Plant managers know how to integrate all of these IIoT resources into a comprehensive system.

This kind of smart manufacturing has several advantages. This includes adapting production levels to meet fluctuations in demand. In addition, people have access to data that is relevant to their jobs at all times. Sensor data may also be used to predict failures, schedule servicing, and fine-tune operations for maximum productivity. 

Digital simulation is a vital factor in the rapid collection of factory-floor operating data. Machine learning models may be educated using this information. Automation and machine learning allow machines to constantly improve themselves and provide updates on their health.

Still, the IoT smart factory gathers a ton of data. To store and handle such a massive data set, cloud computing is a fantastic choice. Then, by comparing this data at different points in time, we may get a better understanding of the whole plant.

Advantages of Smart Manufacturing Facilities

When you make a manufacturing facility “smarter” through IoT & IIoT development, you can be sure that the quality will significantly increase in three main areas: Monitoring, predictive maintenance, and process improvement.

Remote Monitoring

By gaining insight into the previous and real-time status of equipment, plant managers may remotely track and troubleshoot devices and discover and rectify issues before they have a compounding effect on machine uptime and productivity.

Wireless tower lights, for instance, let maintenance workers check in on machinery from afar without installing costly and time-consuming cable lines. 

In addition to providing a visual representation of the machine's state, the lights can also initiate an action or demand a reaction from an operator in an area far away from the equipment. Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE) may be determined with the use of the data gathered by these gadgets. Not only can operators act swiftly in response to real-time warnings, but they can also utilize previous data to monitor things like machine availability, production rates, discarded parts, and more.

Predictive Maintenance

Reduced downtime, longer MTBF, and lower expenses from unneeded preventive maintenance and spare parts inventories are all possible thanks to better maintenance made possible by predictive analytics.

Predictive maintenance eliminates a lot of the confusion by making it possible to base maintenance choices on the equipment's data, both past and present. Wireless sensors that monitor things like motion, temperature, current, and pressure may help identify problems before they cause costly outages. The data collected by the wireless sensors is sent to a wireless controller, where it may be accessed both instantly (through text or email alerts) and archived for future study.

Real-time monitoring of machine parts helps with early detection and correction of issues before they spread into costly downtime or extensive damage. As time goes on, the accumulated data produces a priceless record of the machine's performance that may be referenced to guide future maintenance choices. 

Process Improvement

Thanks to IIoT technology, machines, parts, and people may all easily exchange data and information with one another. Data-driven process improvement is made possible by this connection, leading to greater efficiency and output. 

By using a wireless notification system to inform supervisors and technicians when they are required on the line, for instance, technicians and supervisors no longer have to physically go to each line to see if anything needs their attention, and neither do employees have to get up from their desks unless they choose to. 

When a management or technician needs to intervene on the assembly line, the operator may trigger an alarm by pressing a button or toggling a switch. Assigning different colors to the requirement for an engineer (yellow) or supervisor (red) would allow a tower light attached to the gateway's feeds to signal which units need management's attention.  

By using a wireless network of IIoT devices to improve interactions, supervisors, techs, and line staff can use their time more quickly and effectively. 

How Does IIoT Work in Manufacturing?

Now, you may ask yourself, what is the IIoT technology? Well, IIoT is a branch of IoT, the technology that we see today in many fields such as healthcare, retail, and custom development for smart homes. Using IIoT, factories can link their machines and other industrial components. By equipping them with sensors, they are able to communicate and share data in real-time. This information may be used to monitor output, improve workflow, and predict repairs.

Say, for argument's sake, you're in charge of a plant that makes components for automobiles. Sensors may be attached to machinery to collect data about the manufacturing process. Afterward, AI and ML algorithms evaluate this information at a centralized IIoT platform.

These algorithms can pinpoint industrial bottlenecks and provide solutions. To meet consumer demand, they may suggest rearranging the manufacturing line or purchasing more equipment. Making these adjustments will allow you to boost productivity without lowering standards.

How to Use IIoT for “Smarter” Manufacturing

Your company's capacity to embrace scalable digital technologies, many of which have their roots in the Internet of Things, is crucial if you want to transform into a smart factory IoT infrastructure. Optimizing the effectiveness of your assets and the people who interact with them sometimes demands substantial investments in new technical systems such as IoT for all of the infrastructure.

Here are some excellent steps to think about when you build a plan to exploit IoT efficiently and scale it up in the future.

Create a Detailed Plan

Industrial IoT manufacturing requires more than simply using cutting-edge tools. It needs a well-defined plan that is in line with the overall objectives of the business. This plan has to detail how smart manufacturing with IoT can improve the company's processes, the tools to use, and how they fit in with the current infrastructure.

It is also essential that management, staff, and suppliers be involved in the creation of this plan. This will guarantee that everyone is on the same page and make for an easier rollout.

Protect Your Private Data

Although data is essential to smart manufacturing, it also poses serious security issues. As a result, protecting sensitive information is essential for the success of any smart manufacturing system. To do so, it is necessary to implement strict safeguards for online activity, such as firewalls, encryption, and surveillance systems.

To stay ahead of the constant dangers, it is also crucial to upgrade these safety protocols on a regular basis. As a final measure, manufacturers should teach their staff and make sure they understand the significance of data security.

Cultivate Skills and Expertise

The transition to smart manufacturing calls for fresh knowledge and experience. Therefore, factories should put money into education and training initiatives to give their employees the skills they need. One way to do this is by offering courses in data visualization, cybersecurity, and emerging technologies.

The manufacturing sector as a whole would benefit from manufacturers forming strategic alliances with academic institutions and trade groups to provide unique training programs. Manufacturers may better prepare their workers to take advantage of smart IIoT manufacturing by developing their skills and knowledge.

Staged Implementation

Smart manufacturing implementation is a difficult and somewhat intimidating procedure. Therefore, it's better to introduce it gradually. That way, you can see how the new technology and procedures work in practice, make any necessary changes, and learn from experiences.

It also lowers the possibility of interference with ongoing operations. Manufacturers should begin with test runs of a fairly small scope before expanding their quest.

Regularly Check and Tweak

Smart manufacturing is not a destination, but rather a process that never ends. As a result, smart manufacturing systems should be reviewed often and modified as needed by manufacturers. This includes keeping an eye on how the systems are doing, figuring out how they're affecting the business, and coming up with solutions.

The manufacturing industry as a whole would benefit from keeping up with and adopting the most cutting-edge smart manufacturing IoT technology. Smart manufacturing systems need to be reviewed and updated often to guarantee they keep up with the dynamic nature of the manufacturing industry.

Of course, this is a general roadmap, and you need to keep in mind that there is an individual approach to every industry.

IIoT and Smart Manufacturing: Five Examples

Applications for IIoT are vast and growing. Here are just five applications of industrial IoT for factories.

OEE/OPE Monitoring Machines

By digitizing previously analog processes, IIoT provides manufacturers with extraordinary insight into machine data. Manufacturers may track the status of their older equipment using sensors linked to an IIoT gateway. To measure OEE and OPE, manufacturers keep track of machine availability and unscheduled downtime. When used as standards against which progress in a process can be evaluated, these metrics are invaluable.

Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI)

IoT industrial vision cameras, calibrators, and temperature sensors are just some of the quality control tools available to manufacturers. When compared to manual inspections, examinations using intelligent sensors are far more precise. In order to prevent problems from spreading further down the assembly line, quality control checks might be included at various stages.

Inventory Management

These days, a tiny microcontroller with a 4G connection can track, identify, and report on a mobile asset from just about anywhere on the planet, and increasingly powerful and inexpensive Internet of Things platforms make it simple to acquire, manage, and analyze data from these devices in the cloud.

Companies may be quicker and more flexible thanks to automated warnings and event reporting when faced with supply chain issues.

Energy management

To keep an eye on the environment and make energy savings where they make sense, businesses can add IoT sensors to their infrastructure. After everyone has left the building, sensors can switch off the lights. They may also collect and analyze data related to the HVAC system to improve its efficiency.

IIoT may also help identify when a single piece of machinery begins to use an abnormal amount of power. This usually means the machine is broken and in need of repair.

Safety control

IIoT may help keep employees safe by keeping tabs on things like workplace conditions, employee actions, and compliance with safety regulations. For instance, workers in high-risk environments, such as those at high altitudes or operating heavy equipment, can wear sensors that assess their core temperature, sweat levels, and working methods, and then notify supervisors of any potential risks.

Implementing IIoT: Critical Success Factors

Incorporating IIoT into your manufacturing facility is a worthy but challenging endeavor. Implementing IIoT should be seen as a universal digital transformation initiative rather than a standalone project. Implementing IIoT involves cooperation from upper management, engineers, IT professionals, and operational technology specialists.

The following are some of the key recommendations we have for implementing IIoT:

  • Competence in both the OT and IT domains
  • A firm grasp of operational essentials, such as adaptability and scalability.
  • Integration of OT and IT at a high level
  • Thoughtful planning for the solution's ongoing maintenance and improvement.
  • Capacity to adapt to changing market conditions
  • "Bulletproof" security measures


How serious is the promise of IIoT?

The potential of IIoT in the future is vast. In the future, IIoT systems will likely become much more connected across different sectors, leading to even higher efficiency and productivity. Full factory automation, smart urban planning, and cutting-edge medical technologies are just some of the potential outcomes of future IIoT developments.

What role does IIoT play in Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 is based on digital technology, and IIoT is a crucial part of this movement. The objective of Industry 4.0 is to improve manufacturing processes via fully automated, networked systems that can interact with each other.

How important is it for a vendor to have industry-specific experience?

If you're looking for an IIoT solution, the first thing you should do is make sure it has the specific advantages you need and that it provides optimization and monitoring.

Work with a vendor that has expertise in your business or one similar to it, if possible. This will help them understand the unique issues your company faces. An established IIoT provider will be able to guide you through the process of implementing the best solution for your needs, provide you with practical tips and advice, advise you on matters of security, and put you in touch with other players in the sector who can provide even more support.

How well does your solution mesh with our existing computer system?

Since there is no such thing as a standalone IIoT solution, it is essential that the platform you choose is open and flexible enough to allow for integration or communication with various third-party platforms like ERP, CRM, and inventory management.

Most companies currently use numerous legacy systems, so this is essential for preventing any disruptions in production due to data entry errors, failed migrations, or lost files.