How the Internet of Things Can Increase Productivity

How the Internet of Things Can Increase Productivity

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Production downtime and factory productivity are closely correlated, as a factory can lose up to 20% of its productivity due to downtime.

The most common cause of production downtime is a malfunction or breakdown of equipment. However, it is possible to reduce equipment failure and keep downtime low with a predictive maintenance strategy that uses the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and analytics.

The collection of equipment and environmental data occurs through sensors. This data is used to prevent and correct equipment failures. Machine learning advances can improve predictive algorithms over time and allow you build advanced prediction models.

Related: How Cloud Agnostic Hardware Could be The Future of IoT

Why minimize downtime?

A study reveals that 46% of manufacturers fail to deliver services to customers due to an unexpected equipment failure. Unplanned downtime can also cause a loss in production on a critical asset, which can hinder manufacturers’ ability to support or service specific assets.

Unplanned downtime can affect all industries and have a wide range of financial consequences. According to an article in Petro Online, a single, unplanned downtime in an oil refinery or petrochemical plant releases a year’s worth of emissions into the atmosphere.

Why is predictive maintenance using IoT?

It is worth understanding what Internet of Things monitoring entails to grasp its implications for downtime. An IoT monitoring system consists of four elements:

1. Sensors

The first step in IoT monitoring is collecting data from the physical environment, which requires sensors. Sensors are made up of special electronics that sense the environment and convert it into data that can be interpreted by machines or people. The inputs include heat, light, moisture, sound, pressure or electromagnetic fields.

2. Connectivity

Sensors collect the data and send it over the cloud for analysis. There are many ways to transmit the data. These include WiFi, satellite and cellular, Bluetooth, or direct connection to the internet via Ethernet. The type of connectivity used depends on factors such as power consumption, range, bandwidth, and security.

3. Data processing

When the data reaches the cloud, it is processed by software. There are many software solutions available for different IoT use cases. These software solutions analyze the data and present it in an easy-to-understand format to end users. You can set up sensors that display temperature and vibration data every three seconds. Or you can run sophisticated analysis on a massive amount of IoT data and trigger appropriate action.

4. User interface

The end user can receive the data through a web, email, or text notification. Your factory manager might receive a text/web/email notification if the temperature sensor reading exceeds a threshold. Managers can remotely adjust the temperature via their web or mobile apps or take other remedial actions to bring the temperature down to a safe level.

Related: 4 Reasons to Be Excited by the ‘Internet of Things’

What is the role of IoT in reducing production downtime?

IoT can be the key to minimizing downtime and keeping productivity levels high. Here’s a discussion of the reasons for implementing an IoT-based predictive maintenance strategy.

1. You can monitor equipment in real-time

Real-time monitoring of asset condition and performance allows you to anticipate problems before they occur. Any maintenance that is required can be done within minutes of an alert. This helps prevent costly breakdowns or any impact on plant performance. Timely maintenance is also helpful in maximizing the useful life of equipment — you can avoid having to replace equipment too soon and get the full return on your investment.

2. You can optimize the time taken to repair equipment

Predictive maintenance runs in the background, keeping you informed about machine condition and performance. You are alerted when the optimal conditions are not met. This will tell you if your equipment is ageing or degrading. This information allows you to predict when your system will fail and when it can be repaired. Any anomaly with a machine will be reported to you quickly. If deemed necessary, fixes in the early stage of equipment degradation won’t take the hours usually associated with unplanned and planned maintenance.

3. You can spend less on repairs and parts

Predictive maintenance is data-driven and analytical, allowing you to get to the root cause of a problem rather than only treating its symptoms. It is important to know what could cause equipment breakdown in order to prevent equipment failure. Alarms for suboptimal humidity can help reduce electrostatic discharge in low humidity environments. Component degradation can be avoided, and equipment repair costs and spare parts inventory can be optimized to the desired level.

4. You can keep workers safe

Putting sensors in charge of detecting equipment issues bodes well for worker safety. To check for bearing failure, which is a common cause, workers may need to have to access dangerous or difficult bearings. Workers can inspect the bearings’ condition using predictive maintenance without having to touch them. Without the need for human intervention, smart sensors can monitor the temperature and pressure of liquids flowing through pipes.

When to use IoT

  • Cut down on unplanned downtime
  • Reduce machine repair costs
  • Enhance worker safety
  • Shorten time to repair machines
  • Enable better utilization of equipment
  • Increase ROI of equipment

It is useful for critical assets that have the greatest impact on production rate and profitability. IoT monitoring can be very useful when environmental conditions change in a way that could adversely affect product quality and worker safety. Sensors can detect if an operator is in danger or if there are faults in rotating machinery.

Data can be integrated into workforce solutions to create work schedules that reduce workers’ exposure in hazardous environments. IoT can be used to increase worker confidence and morale as a passive safety solution.

Related: The ‘Internet of Things’ Is Changing the Way We Look at the Global Product Value Chain

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