June 12, 2020
Manufacturing companies invest in custom and 3rd-party technology systems to increase production output, measure overall equipment efficiency (OEE), prevent machinery downtime, and control plant assets remotely.
By 2025, the economic impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) could reach $3.7 trillion. Researchers list 3D printing, Artificial Intelligence, robotics, and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) among the transformative technologies that boost the manufacturing industry.
In this article, we will focus on IIoT solutions and discover how businesses can adopt a data-driven approach to manufacturing without considerable upfront investments.
A common way to implement IoT solutions in industrial settings is to enhance manufacturing equipment with data acquisition, analysis, and visualization tools. These include sensors, IoT gateways, human-machine interfaces (HMIs), and cloud-based analytics tools that transform raw equipment health and performance data into actionable insights.
On a global scale, 85% of factories’ inventory and machines are not yet connected to the Internet.
There are several factors hindering the digital reinvention of the industrial sector:
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Could retrofitting legacy equipment take manufacturing companies one step closer to the digital future?
Retrofitting is the process of adding sensors, connectivity, and additional hardware and software components to existing equipment.
Cloud-driven sensor data analysis helps enterprises eliminate abusive equipment usage, predict machinery failure, and reduce waste among other things.
The manufacturers of molded plastic components, for example, can install water temperature and motion sensors on aluminum or steel molds. The sensing devices automatically detect misaligned molds and monitor coolant temperature and flow rate. The data is intercepted by IoT gateways and securely transmitted to the cloud. Based on this information, injection molding machine operators can reduce plastic waste and flashing and prevent mold and tie bar damage.
To capture, process, and act on equipment performance data, retrofitted IIoT solutions rely on several functional components:
Due to significant up-front investments, rip and replace factory overhauls are rare for the manufacturing industry.
Retrofitting strikes a perfect balance between costly equipment replacements and smart functionality.
Following the pandemic, IoT-enabled technologies that allow companies to reduce equipment maintenance costs and operate assets remotely are set for long-term growth. Studies indicate that the global industrial IoT gateway market will top $1.39 billion by 2021, while industrial sensors could become a $1.34 billion industry in six years.
Retrofit kits, wireless sensors, and cloud services that require little customization make it easier to dive into the Industrial Internet of Things. When planning an IIoT project, however, manufacturing companies should start with the business objectives and identify the equipment critical to the factory operations.