The Connected Factory
There’s a lot of talk within the industry about getting, and staying, connected. That’s a frightening proposition for some. But in the industrial space, enabling factory connectivity is not really an option. It’s happening as we speak. Think of it as a way of organizing your operations into a consolidated, flexible, and connected way through a centralized platform of sorts.
In the past, manufacturing facilities relied on floor managers to make sure each line or station on the factory floor was “optimized.” Much of the burden fell on the floor manager or line supervisor to make sure procedures were followed and equipment was operating properly. Today, factories and manufacturing facilities are leveraging technology to connect machines and equipment. Employees who previously had to remain on the floor can now manage operations remotely – from output control to maintenance and repair. Using sensors that connect and communicate together produces greater efficiency in operations and provides the visibility and insight into the true health of machine operations from any location, at any time. The result is improved machine health, improved performance, and better utilization of workloads, applications, and infrastructure.
The connected factory means that data and information can be seamlessly collected and integrated – either on site or through the cloud. Having access to that data delivered by wireless or embedded sensors allows for predictive analysis and, importantly, empowers companies to identify potential problems before they happen – such as a machine shut down or perhaps something more catastrophic. In addition, companies can use collected data to deliver scalability and efficiency into operations and improve reliability to meet customer demand. This fosters greater innovation instead of infrastructure management.
The connected factory is not limited to a single site. Information can be collected and shared across multiple locations. Sensors reporting back in real-time improve the timeliness of the information and empower managers to analyze operations to proactively make decisions and to take immediate action when needed. The results gathered from various companies who have implemented connected technology within their operation are impressive:
- Electronics manufacturer: 25% output improvement using smart, connected lines.
- Automotive manufacturer: 100% avoidance of potential assembly failure using connected robotic machines.
- Instrument manufacturer: Reported a 320-hour reduction in production hours plus a 15 percent productivity boost.
There are many more examples. According to a recent report, 64% of manufacturers believe their factories will be fully connected with the latest technologies powering the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) by 2022. That’s only 4 years away. In an increasingly competitive marketplace, companies can ill afford to be left behind. So, that means embracing IIoT technology and connecting facilities in a smart, efficient manner.
Some companies worry about the cost to connect their factories in this manner. But the cost is not really a deterrent as the expense for implementing smart technologies such as wireless sensors is not unreasonable. So the question should not be “Can we afford to do this?” Rather, it should be “Can we afford not to do this?”
If you want to learn more about the SmartHAWK™ line of wireless industrial sensors from TDG Technologies, products and other information can be found at www.tdgtechnologies.com. TDG Technologies can also be reached by calling (760) 466-9234.