The manufacturing industry has been among the slowest to adopt new technology, for a variety of reasons. It’s often costly and complex to implement, and the return on investment can take years to see. However, as the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow and manufacturing begins to embrace it along with other technology, we’re seeing the many benefits come into play.
The IoT, along with other technologies, can automate tasks in particularly hazardous areas, such as in underground mining. Mining company Rio Tinto is working on automating the process as part of its Mine of the Future Program.
With the IoT, it’s possible to make adjustments to the supply chain to reduce waste. Through the use of radio-frequency identification (RFID), it’s possible for a company to track inventory completely wirelessly. In the end, this would allow goods to be produced just in time to be sold, avoiding waste of unnecessary inventory, and reducing the need for storage facilities to hold excess inventory. Clothing retailer Zara is already embracing the RFID trend.
Better Quality Assurance
In the past, manufacturing has been focused on reactive quality – dealing with mistakes in the form of product recalls after the fact. Now, the IoT makes it possible to keep quality proactive – fixing issues as they come along, before the product makes it in the hands of the end user. This saves time and money by curbing the amount of rework that must be done and reducing rejection rates.
Changing to an Outcome-Based Pricing Model
All over the economy, we’re seeing a transition to results-based models, This is especially true the case in the healthcare system. Some experts say we’re starting to see the death of billable hours. In manufacturing, many companies are making the switch, too. For example, Spanish rail company Renfe has partnered with Siemens in a performance-based contract. Siemens developed the train monitoring technology that helps keep trains on time 99.9% of the time. And when they’re not, passengers are reimbursed for any delays that exceed 15 minutes.
Manufacturers are expanding into wider roles as technology grows. Popular tractor manufacturer John Deere is expanding into partnering with farms. They are creating farm-state-sensing technology to help with crop assurance. Farm sensors and software make it possible to grow more food with less water. Sensors keep machines running smoothly and send information wirelessly to your computer or smartphone. They can also help keep track of everything from temperature to wind speed to keep crops healthy.
The IoT is helping manufacturing to improve efficiency, increase production machinery uptime, reduce the time to market, and provide better insights into buyer behavior. For instance, manufacturers can use a CRM to keep track of vital customer information, including buying patterns. They can see who their best customers are, and make sure they’re taking steps to keep those customers happy, while working to bring in additional customers.
As manufacturers learn more about how people are buying and when, they can adjust manufacturing accordingly – keeping inventory levels exactly where they need to be for greater profit.
The IoT allows the manufacturing industry to get on par with others that have been using it to their advantage for a while. Increased productivity and efficiency allows for better profit, while automation reduces injury risk to workers.
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