The manufacturing industry has realized the importance of investing in advanced technology to face the threats caused by the changes in the market. Digital transformation has entered the manufacturing industry.

Enterprises are turning to IoT (Internet of Things) to strengthen up their processes. Operational performance, enhanced safety, and better flexibility are three main reasons for choosing technology in the manufacturing industry.

Big data, IoT, data analytics, and edge computing are interlinked and help enterprises streamline their business processes. SMEs that adopt new technology has several advantages over other enterprises. Many consulting companies offer big data services to empower small, medium, and large-scale enterprises to improve their operational efficiency.

This post will touch the various benefits of IoT and big data in the manufacturing industry.

What is Big Data?

A vast collection of continuously growing data that traditional data management tools cannot process is known as big data. You can find it in three types:

  • Unstructured: Data that doesn’t have any specific format and comes from a heterogeneous source is unstructured. It may be a combination of text, images, videos, audio files, etc.
  • Semi-Structured: Data with a structured form but cannot be defined in any specific definition is semi-structured. It needs to be further cleaned and processed to derive insights.
  • Structured: Data that has been cleaned and formatted and comes in a definite, easy-to-understand structure is structure data.

    Big data in manufacturing can be structured, unstructured, or semi-structured. Enterprises rely on big data analytics for faster and effective decision-making and overall improvement of the business.

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

Internet of Things is a network of connected devices that send signals and messages to each other without human intervention. The network consists of several edge devices, terminals, and machines in an enterprise. The data collected through the network is usually sent to the ERP system to derive insights. It tells the management about what’s working for the enterprise and what needs to be changed.

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

IIoT is implementing IoT on an industrial scale where many devices and machines are connected in a network. IIoT is used for manufacturing and supply chain management as it enables end-to-end visibility and allows a multi-site deployment of the network. It helps manufacturing enterprises achieve their goals by providing real-time data analytics. The following are some benefits of using IoT in manufacturing. 

Benefits of IoT and Big Data in the Manufacturing Industry

Better Connectivity Across the Factory

IoT doesn’t just connect devices in a limited region. Machines enabled with IoT can be inside and outside the enterprise. The entire supply chain can be linked, including the suppliers, contractors, subcontractors, field operators, machine operators, etc. Data sent through the network share operational information with everyone related to the enterprise.

On-site and off-site employees and management can use this data to manage the factory activity directly or from a remote location. It helps in sharing information with all parties involved so that there wouldn’t be any miscommunication. This will result in better productivity.

Identifying Bottlenecks in Production

Almost every manufacturing enterprise will have some or another issue with production. The bottlenecks in the product life cycle can cause quite a lot of trouble. Previously, it was an uphill task to identify these problems and find a comprehensive solution to eliminate them. However, by using IoT in manufacturing, enterprises can detect and eliminate the glitches in real-time.

It helps in developing a better approach to production management and improving product delivery. IoT will enable strengthening the supply chain and increase its performance while allowing the enterprises to reduce costs.

Automation and Robotics for Operational Efficiency

Many factories in the manufacturing industry are already investing in robotic machinery to automate production. According to Statista, the global sale of industrial robots has tripled during the last decade. Countries with a strong automotive industry use more industrial robots. It is predicted that the current digital transformation is pushing manufacturing industries to automate their services to improve the overall efficiency of production.

The manufacturers have to choose between following the traditional system or adopting advanced technology and innovation to survive the competition. The use of industrial robots is helping workers do their job better and faster as robots handle the heavy work.

Predictive Maintenance of Machinery to Reduce Downtime

Big data for the manufacturing industry consists of information about the machinery, processes, and people. Big data analytics doesn’t just help with identifying gaps in the process. It can also set up maintenance programs on its own.

We cannot deny the importance of servicing and maintenance in the manufacturing industry. A breakdown during the peak stages of production can disrupt the entire product lifecycle. This can directly impact customer satisfaction, sales, and profits.

Artificial intelligence can predict when a machine would need servicing and schedule it automatically. It can assess the health of the machinery, identify the problem areas, and fix them so that the manufacturing process continues without any glitches.

Improve Quality Control with Cost Optimization

Quality control is a fundamental part of manufacturing. Every enterprise has its own way of ensuring the quality of products. The aim is to identify defective items and deliver the best to the customers. Using IoT in quality control, thermal and video sensors collect data when the products are at different stages of development. Even the machines are monitored (as we read in the previous point).

This continuous monitoring helps enterprises identify defective items at earlier stages and make the necessary changes. It helps in finding innovative ways to tackle quality issues. Enterprises can thus improve the production quality without increasing the cost.

Manage Inventory in Real-Time

Inventory management forms a vital part of supply chain management. Big data analytics company helps enterprises make the right warehousing decisions and identifies the ideal way to transport inventory to and from the warehouses. Data from warehouses is synced with data from the manufacturing department, sales department, and transportation services to take care of the storage and movement of inventory in real-time.

Data plays a major role and is changing the way manufacturers handle production and logistics. By automating the process using IoT and big data analytics, enterprises can reduce the risk of human error. With the help of IoT devices, we can track inventory movement from the warehouse to the dock.

Build a Safer Work Environment in the Factory

A factory with heavy machines is not an easy place to work. Employee safety is a common concern, and many enterprises are now using IoT devices to create a safer work environment for factory employees. The data sent through the IoT network will warn the personnel about a sudden change in temperature or excess vibrations of the machine that could lead to an accident.

It gives the management more control and helps prevent accidents. For example, in case of a gas leakage, the IoT devices will alert the officials who can alert the workers to either stop the leak, exit the premises, or both. In case of accidents and injuries, an IoT network can ensure faster care to save the workers’ lives.

Enhanced On-Premises Security

Data security is already handled by monitoring data movement and protecting the storage devices/ cloud servers. What about the physical security of the factory and the workers inside? Big data in manufacturing and IoT devices ensure that data, machinery, and workers are safe from malicious attacks. The data from CCTV cameras and infrared sensors take care of on-premises safety. The security personnel will be alerted if there’s a suspected presence in the vicinity. The individual can take necessary steps to avoid attacks on the manufacturing units.

Accurate Forecasting Using Real-Time Data

The markets are changing rapidly, and relying on historical data will not give accurate predictions in this scenario. Manufacturers need to use real-time data to understand future trends. Many external factors such as weather conditions, sociopolitical developments, availability of raw materials, etc., influence manufacturing.

Depending on data from the past, we will not be as effective as using real-time data to know how we can manage the product and move the inventory. Advanced analytics and big data solutions help enterprises prepare to tackle volatile market conditions.

Become Energy Efficient Industry and Reduce Carbon Footprint

The increasing concern for environmental safety has forced manufacturers to look at their processes and find alternate methods to reduce the consumption of non-renewable energy sources. IoT is helping enterprises become energy efficient and reduce the carbon footprint. SMEs get incentives when they consume less energy and follow sustainable production practices.

IoT devices detect and highlight areas with excess energy consumption and help the management address this situation without affecting the production capacity. IoT also gives the energy profile of the enterprise, which they can use to create efficient backup systems to continue production even during power outages.

Better Research and Increase in Competitiveness in the Market

Big data consulting services help large enterprises automate research to gain accurate insights. This allows manufacturers to come up with new products and attract more customers. Using data analytics makes it possible to understand the customers’ perspective, requirements, etc., and release products that cater to these requirements.

Naturally, this leads to manufacturers becoming competitive in the market and gaining an edge over others. As many enterprises are adopting big data and IoT, those still using traditional methods may find it harder to survive the competition.

Conclusion

The benefits of using big data and IoT in the manufacturing industry are far more than increasing efficiency. Big data consulting companies help manufacturers take their processes to the next level by connecting systems and maintaining continuous communication between devices and humans.

By adopting the data-driven model in manufacturing, enterprises can gain long-term benefits and become industry leaders by setting up benchmarking standards for production and quality.

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