By : Srini April 30, 2016 No Comments

If you thought Factories were already “Smart?, given the extensive usage of PLC’s, Advanced Analytics, Manufacturing Execution Systems, Integrated Value Chains- from the Top floor to the Shop Floor and onto the Customers, well, they are only going to get “SMART(ER)?. Here comes IoT (Internet of Things) for Factories!!

With the increase in Bandwidth, Chip processing capabilities and cheaper data storage, the age of digital marrying the physical is upon us. This is no-less a revolution than the previous ones- Industrial, Electric, Computational, and now the Physical.

It is indeed essential to have a PLC on the end of an Assembly line to track Tack times, Input/Output parameters and varied analytics but how about having the assembly line talk to you in real time! Not that this has not been achieved before- we are all aware of the intelligent lines that recognize products and sort them and also throw out deviants- so this is not new- but now with IoT- this has become a lot more plausible and accessible for any kind of manufacturing unit at any size or scale.

Here is an idea- Use a Rasperry Pi (>$100 device), connect it to a mobile device, a bunch of sensors and hook it all up to an Analytics data Warehouse engine (again open source) on one end and a MES system on the other and you have yourself a Smart(er) Factory without expensive PLC devices, embedded chips and predatory license vendors hovering over you all the time….

So you don’t have to be a Daimler or a Nestle – IoT makes it possible for anyone to have a Smart(er) Factory

In your factory of the future, machines and products will communicate with each other, using simple, easily available mobile and computing devices. Extensive use of Sensors (that are now considerably cheaper (thanks to China!), Raw materials and machines are interconnected within an Internet of Things (IoT) framework. The objective of highly individualized, flexible, resource friendly mass production is within reach of anyone.

Daimler does it today- so can you!

At Daimler every part of the vehicle in the assembly line is RFID tagged, which stores all information regarding the vehicle like wheel height, size dimensions etc. Via transponders, the RFID data is queried and the tag is constantly updated with current information. The RFID tag at any given point gives information related to the manufacturing stage of each part, which part is manufactured and which part is yet to be produced. It instructs the robot what activities to do next and manages the entire complex operations in the plant.

Now with IoT you can do all of the above with different communication protocols (Not only RFID) and commonly available cheaper devices.

Adopting ‘Smart’ concepts in manufacturing can become a key competitive differentiator to overcome the many challenges facing today’s businesses. By leveraging technology and better equipping people with information on the factory floor, manufacturers can better leverage innovation and ‘best practices’ to help lower costs, optimize the process and improve product quality. The world of manufacturing is changing and ‘Smarter Manufacturing’ will be a key initiative to help drive future success.

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