The shop floor of a manufacturing company is where the most important work gets done. There are tons of moving parts, and often lots of people are moving about trying to ensure tasks get completed accurately and as quickly as possible.
To make shop floor processes safer, more streamlined, and more efficient, many are turning to smart technology.
Implementing smart tech into manufacturing processes on the shop floor can increase productivity, reduce costs, and bring many more benefits. There are countless ways for operators to experiment and innovate with these processes and technologies.
What Is Industry 4.0 and the IIoT?
Today’s industrial revolution – Industry 4.0 – is driven by connections between robotics, data, and advanced technology, also known as the Internet of Things (IoT). IIoT, on the other hand, is the addition of the Internet of Things to the industrial sector.
Many businesses are already recognizing how using IIoT technologies in manufacturing can improve efficiency while reducing costs. In fact, a report by Statista found that the discrete manufacturing industry spent $40 billion on the Internet of Things in 2020.
Operators can transform their shop floor with the IIoT and enjoy the benefits of being able to predict problems before they occur.
How Operators Can Implement Smart Technology on the Shop Floor
Smart shop floors are an investment in a company’s future. The company might find it difficult to justify the costs upfront, but the long-term results will soon be seen at every level of the operation.
Here are some of the different tools that can increase efficiency and make use of technology on the shop floor:
- Sensors: Sensors help machinery communicate with one another and transmit performance data in real-time.
- Remote monitoring: With remote monitoring, operators can make decisions about maintenance needs from anywhere, including offsite locations. This means manufacturing shop floors can begin looking more like the traditional power plant, where many operations happen smoothly with few to no people actually physically present.
- Data software: Data software analyzes and collects performance metrics. Consistently receiving data helps operators figure out what their benchmarks are in terms of performance, so they notice potential problems swiftly.
Benefits of Smart Shop Floors
One of the most significant benefits of smart shop floors is how they help with preventive maintenance. The detailed data that the IIoT can provide gives operators the ability to predict machine behaviors and make adjustments when things don’t look as they should.
There are many more benefits to making your shop floor smarter and more connected, including:
- Better efficiency: Efficiency can be improved on the shop floor when operators implement smart technology. The technology is only as effective as the people in charge, so it is still important to employ people who will take the work seriously.
- Enhanced machine performance: Operators can make more informed decisions regarding the best moves for their machines when provided with the real-time analytics made available by the IIoT.
- Increased safety: With IIoT, operators can get a sense of any issues before they occur. Addressing these types of concerns swiftly means an increased ability to avoid machine breakdowns, failures, or catastrophic problems.
- Reduced unplanned downtime: Using smart technology on the shop floor helps technicians recognize issues more quickly, which reduces the time lost to unanticipated maintenance needs or problems. This gives operators more control over the workday.
- Empowered managers: Managers and operators who have more control over the happenings of the shop floor will feel more confident and empowered in their roles. This can have significant benefits for the entire organization, and their positive attitudes can trickle down to every member of the company.
Some additional benefits include accurate labor data, total visibility over shop floors, and improved planning. As with any technology upgrade, it’s also vital to consider the security implications of using smart tech on the shop floor. Companies might become more vulnerable to attacks when they are more connected by technology.
Incorporating IoT Technology Into a Shop Floor
There are many ways to use IoT technology on the manufacturing floor. Some of them include:
- Tracking inventory and the number of products being produced by each machine.
- Collecting and managing data via the cloud for better insights.
- Measuring settings like input flow and pressure on machines.
- Keeping track of employee and machine efficiency by comparing work to the benchmarks found by smart technology.
- Digitizing processes to assign employees to specific tasks.
Smart Technology Is the Future of Real-Time Data
Accessing manufacturing data in real-time is a game-changer for many manufacturing organizations. Managers will be able to see and handle large amounts of data across multiple production sites by using smart technology and the cloud.
This provides better insights into how efficiently machines are operating so managers and operators can predict outages, saving them time and money and possibly positioning them better in the competitive market.