Although with manufacturing it is difficult to turn a physical process into something digital, the production industry stands to gain a lot from digitizing its processes. The collection and analysis of data brings a whole new paradigm to manufacturing. In the years to come, stand-alone closed production units will evolve into smart factories, using connected manufacturing systems. This will improve efficiencies and optimize operations in the production process, and in the logistics flow. Better visibility on the production chain and better decision-making based on data. That is what the Internet of Things (IoT) has on offer for the manufacturing industry.
We are witnessing the 4th industrial revolution. The first industrial revolution was all about water and steam power and mechanization, the second was driven by electricity, mass production and assembly lines. The third industrial revolution brought along computers and automation, but the fourth wave is now clearly being driven by data.
What are the use cases for IoT in manufacturing
IoT brings big value to the manufacturing industry:
- Inventory management: IoT devices keep track of goods, reducing the cost of goods that get lost or mislaid, and reducing the working capital needed.
- Monitoring production flow: sensors track the entire production flow, sending out alerts when the production line is going too slow, or if parts are under way for too long.
- Supply chain optimization: sensors provide real-time supply chain information that can be fed into the ERP or PLM systems.
- Cost-saving analysis: data gathered from any device in the production process is used as insight to find weak spots in the manufacturing chain, leading to cost savings.
IoT case: sensors at Volvo Car Ghent
Simac has gained experience in Smart Manufacturing by working with Volvo Car Ghent. Sensors provided by our partner Sensolus are used for a dual purpose:
- Sensors determine whether cars sit idle for too long and at which point in the production chain a car is delayed. This is interesting information that can be used to optimize the production chain.
- Sensors are used to help find cars after production. Cars can be located within five minutes, wherever they are parked after the manufacturing process. This is an important step in the optimization of the supply chain. In this project, it was key to integrate the sensor data into the existing production systems at Volvo Ghent. Both integration and programming were handled by Simac.
The sky is the limit when thinking about the possibilities IoT brings to manufacturing. Creating value, cutting costs, making the production chain more visible.