cloud of wifi-enabled devices representing the internet of things

Does the Internet of Things Lead to Smart Manufacturing?

3 ways our ever-increasing network of connected devices is changing manufacturing.

In the past decade, we’ve gone from smart phones, to smart watches, to smart… well, you name it. WiFi-enabled devices have become ubiquitous in so many industries, that it’s safe to assume that most technology these days comes equipped with some level of wireless connectivity and an accompanying app. It’s called the Internet of Things, and manufacturing industries have become just as connected as everyone else.

We’d like to believe that all these smart devices automatically lead to smart manufacturing. But does it? One of our core philosophies at Brightline is “Best practices beat best products.” This means that having the right systems (infrastructure, networks, and trained personnel) in place will serve you better than the latest gadget. Investing in newer technology will only help if you are able to make use of it. Like all “smart” technology, it’s only as intelligent as those who use it.

However, the Internet of Things can enable smarter manufacturing practices when the right people can gather the right data and draw useful conclusions from it. Here are three ways that the WiFi-enabled technology can help your manufacturing business sharpen its competitive edge.

1. Process Streamlining

WiFi-enabled devices allow for greater analysis and optimization of production. How are your devices consuming energy, and how can you make that process more efficient? Where are the bottlenecks in your production line, and what adjustments might alleviate them?

The abundance of data brought by this hyper-connectivity leads to further efficiencies down the line. Even when these improvements are seemingly marginal, they can have a direct impact on your business’s bottom line. Essentially, the data allows you to target the poorest performer—the part of your process which holds your more efficient areas back—and by making improvements to this weak link you’re able to increase overall performance.

2. Remote Operating

One of the benefits of WiFi-enabled machinery is the ability to track and monitor machine performance from a distance. Not just from the other side of the factory floor, but from the other side of the globe. This could mean controlling and operating machinery, or it could mean centralizing data so that the performance of the manufacturing process in factory A can better be compared against that of factory B.

3. Better Predictive Maintenance

A lot of our current maintenance schedules are based on guesswork. For instance, we estimate that the best time to change the oil on our car is every 3,000 miles based on our past experience and the recommendation of our mechanic. But what if we purchased a highly-efficient vehicle that only actually needed an oil change every 4,000 miles? Or what if our driving patterns put more strain on the engine, meaning we would be wiser to come in earlier?

The data you gain from smart technology allows you to see how individual units are performing, and which ones show signs of failure. This allows you to fine-tune your maintenance routines to focus on the units that need attention the most.

Connecting to the Internet of Things.

A functional manufacturing environment requires more than the right equipment. It requires the technological infrastructure to ensure it runs efficiently and with minimal downtime. The more manufacturing relies on IT to operate, the more crucial those IT systems become. As you move into the world of the Internet of Things and become more and more of a Smart Manufacturing business, make sure you have a trusted IT partner to keep your business operating efficiently.

Brightline offers a free network assessment to help you understand ways in which your IT infrastructure could use improvement. We can work with your manufacturing business to ensure you’re prepared for the next wave of emerging technology.