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Declining Prices of IoT Sensors Is Extending Penetration Farther into Manufacturing Processes Featured

"Sometimes you just have to look up." "Sometimes you just have to look up."

The rise of IoT will significantly change many industries. However, companies that use IoT devices have faced various challenges mainly due to high cost of these devices. Companies in inventory and supply chain management have in the past experienced increased spending, and this is likely to go on between now and 2023. The increase in spending will result from new models of business that include software and products-as-a-service. The reduced cost of IoT sensors, increased connectivity and emerging software will be the leading areas that manufacturers will take advantage of going forward.

IoT allows operations within the manufacturing sector to make use of the product-as-a-service model in their hardware. In this case, instead of a company paying a huge fee for expensive hardware equipment, they can use a lease-like model to acquire the equipment for a specific number of uses. Robotics-as-a-service models have also adopted this strategy. Operators of warehouse and manufacturing companies will no longer have to buy robots. Instead, they can pay a specific fee to a robotics provider depending on the number of robots they need and can scale up or down depending on their demands. Other companies in IoT sector can make use of this strategy by expanding it to their respective areas of business.

Internet of Things can help manufacturing companies with asset recovery. Considering the high cost of shipping and manufacturing equipment such as tanks, pallets, drums, and crates, recovering them after use is difficult yet essential. With the help of IoT devices that have WiFi and cellular network capabilities however, shipping companies can have visibility of equipment and their exact location. It means that shipping and manufacturing companies can easily monitor their processes and equipment. Also, the IoT sensors will ease communication between manufacturers and their suppliers because they can easily predict issues in their devices through predictive maintenance. Doing so will improve equipment uptime.

With intelligent assets that are IoT-enabled, have sensors and cognitive capabilities, the equipment can sense their surroundings, communicate among themselves and self-diagnose issues to optimize performance and reduce downtime. Just like humans who can know when something is not right in their bodies due to their cognitive abilities, intelligent assets will communicate problems that can be confirmed by qualified people. By catching issues in their early stages, companies will avoid disaster during operations. Embracing smart assets and equipment allows companies to prevent delays in production, improve performance in production line, increase process efficiency, reduce the downtime of equipment and speed up the process of repairing them.

With the advancement of this technology, IoT will allow information technology to communicate with operational technology, according to Microsoft. This will addresss many challenges, and ease connectivity between assets, processes, people and systems. Due to connectivity, better integration will be achieved in plant processes that will increase levels of productivity and will take manufacturing to a whole new level of transformation. With the availability of smart machines that are data-optimized, companies can receive input from different sources such as production data and data from customer orders therefore enabling agility in manufacturing. Furthermore, increased and timely communication improves efficiency in production and enhances visibility in operational performance.

Although many companies are interested in deploying IoT assets, most of them have not adopted them. This is due to the cost-related issues, lack of knowledge on these devices or lack of infrastructure. Most of the companies that have adopted them are in pilot stage. The ability of those that have piloted them to move to full-scale deployment depends on factors such as right leadership and success experienced by other organizations that have implemented it. The most important thing however is that as the cost continues coming down, many companies will implement it and finding a company to use as an example during implementation will no longer be an issue.

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Scott Koegler

Scott Koegler is Executive Editor for PMG360. He is a technology writer and editor with 20+ years experience delivering high value content to readers and publishers. 

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