Industrial IoT in Smart Manufacturing

Since the first industrial revolution new methods of technology continue to improve the efficiency of manufacturing processes. Once the computer was introduced, digital technology began to play a vital role in industrial automation. This era became known as the industry 3.0 revolution. Now industry 4.0 is the new industrial revolution which introduces the smart factory, including smart manufacturing, artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous systems.

Technology used in a smart factory relies on the internet of things (IoT) and machine-to-machine (M2M) communication to self-monitor, self-analyze, and self-correct. With this new technology a large, continuous amount of data must be securely transmitted either to a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC), computer, or another machine. This is where the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) evolved from and wireless communications became a necessity for manufacturing. The quality of the connectivity between these IIoT devices is critical to keep production lines running 24/7 without failure.

How is wireless connectivity used in industry 4.0?

In any smart factory, a reliable IoT connectivity solution is key to an efficient system. The IoT devices must be always online and fully operational. Even a few minutes of down time can cost some companies thousands of dollars.

IIoT devices can include industrial cameras, sensors, actuators, machines, or any device designed to transmit data over the Internet or a specified wireless network. Often these devices are developed to use a specific data communication protocol such as Modbus or Profibus. This communication protocol is simply a set of rules for formatting and processing data between industrial electronic devices. Wireless connectivity is the way of transmitting the data between these devices within a manufacturing facility or between manufacturing locations around the world.

Although many IoT devices connect over a local area network (LAN) and wired Ethernet connections, many industrial IoT devices can connect to networks via: Wireless WAN (WWAN), Low-Power WAN (LPWAN), or private LTE. The type of connectivity used depends on various factors including the type of device, the location and the IoT deployment.

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Smart Factory IoT Use Cases

Smart factory applications can be practically endless, but here are just a few examples of how a manufacturer can implement industry 4.0 technology.

Rapid Prototyping

By gathering data through sensors on the production floor, manufacturers can make better decisions before going into full production. Sensors on products can also be implemented in the field to gather data in real-life scenarios. Collecting this data in real-time can help engineers make quick changes for a more efficient product.

Digital Quality Control

With machinery already connected to cloud platforms, storing data such as temperature and pressure, is easier to digitally track in production batches. This technology can significantly help reduce poor quality product from reaching the consumer and reduce the need of costly recalls.

Predictive Maintenance

Through sensors and connectivity machines can collect and analyze data to determine if a potential problem may occur. The real-time data and cloud-based analytics can help engineers and maintenance crew spot inefficiencies with machinery allowing them to replace components before they fail.

Predictive Maintenance Reporting IoT Sensors Minimize Downtime

Warehouse Management

Knowing where your inventory is and an efficient method to stock and pick inventory has always been a challenge for warehouse management. In a smart warehouse IIoT solutions use sensors to give real-time locations, quantities, and temperatures. Autonomous robots can pick and pack an order, all without any human interaction.

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