Machines that talk to each other? Self-managed, automated factories? It seems like a pipe dream, but it’s really not. Modern factories have already begun to implement The Internet of Things into their own processes and have seen significant improvements in time saved, money saved, and efficiency. Why haven’t all factories implemented this amazing new concept? One reason could be a lack of understanding how it could ultimately improve efficiency and time management. We are going to try and tackle that in this article.
First, what would a typical IOT setup look like? Let’s take a standard scenario of a machine breaking down and needing to be repaired before production can continue.
In factories without IOT implemented the process goes something like this. The machine breaks down. Someone, usually one of the workers who was present when it happened, reports the breakdown to a member of the maintenance team or to Management who will assign the task of repairing it to the maintenance team. Then the maintenance team starts to work on the machine. It could take a while before it’s fixed. Once the machine is repaired, it needs to be reported back to Management and then it can be put back into production. All of these steps take time. Time which IOT can help cut down.
In a factory where the Internet of Things has been implemented, as soon as the machine goes offline it can reported directly to management or even the maintenance team. There may even be a system in place where a worker is assigned automatically to fix it and receives a text on their phone telling them that the machine is down and needs repairs. Then the machine is fixed, and as soon as it comes back online, it can alert management or anyone else that it is ready to be used again. This could mean that significant time is saved between the time the machine goes down to the time it comes back online. That’s less time the machine is down for repairs, which could affect production rate, costs, and even your sales.
Adopting IOT into your existing factory can go even deeper and provide more benefits beyond those we’ve talked about here. The benefits will be unique to your setup and factory environment. The most important thing, though, is to get started. Just set up one system that automates communication between two different machines or a machine and a human counterpart and test it out. You’ll know soon enough whether it increases the efficiency of your processes.