The events of the last several years have served to highlight the fragility of the global supply chain and the importance of the manufacturing industry. As we continue to emerge into the post-pandemic era, the value manufacturers can achieve from optimizing their operations is more important than ever. To resolve supply chain shortages and delays, manufacturers are leveraging IoT solutions to connect people, data, and processes across their factories and partner networks. By implementing IoT, businesses have reported significant increases in operational efficiency, shortened delivery times, and cost reductions.
Fostering Smarter and Streamlined Operations with Impressive Results
With the potential for IoT sensors to be applied in nearly every industry, it can be easy to overlook the benefits of its implementation in the manufacturing sector. The integration of IoT solutions such as smart sensors are revolutionizing the manufacturing industry. The most notable advantages of applying IoT in manufacturing are observed in the following areas:
- Asset management and inventory automation
- Production execution and quality control
- Site security and workplace safety
Asset Management and Inventory Automation
One of the most widely utilized applications of IoT is to track physical assets, tools, and equipment. With an RFID tag placed on a physical asset, our industry-leading Visi-Trac software captures data that provides real-time visibility of an asset’s location, status, condition, environmental conditions, and movement history. This allows the antiquated process of taking inventory manually or with bar code scanners to become fully automated, increasing manpower utilization and inventory accuracy.
Inventory automation significantly improves the visibility of assets and materials on hand, and enhances the accuracy of estimated usage remaining (EUR) data. Additionally, increased visibility can provide vital insights to suppliers to ensure that the required materials are always in stock.
IoT integration can be remarkably impactful for manufacturers dealing with raw materials and products that have a shelf-life or that must be contained in a controlled environment. Visi-Trac can send an alert if a material or good is nearing its expiration date. It can also send notifications when a temperature- or humidity-sensitive material has moved from a climate controlled area and records how long the good is outside its threshold parameters. Industries such as aerospace, electronics manufacturing, food production and pharmaceuticals can find significant savings from a reduction in expired or wasted materials and goods.
Production Execution and Quality Control
Beyond inventory, components can be tracked throughout each stage of the assembly process to evaluate overall production flow. Data captured in Visi-Trac identifies bottlenecks and inefficiencies in the manufacturing process. Determining “traffic jams” in the various assembly stages can substantially increase production efficiency and operator productivity. Sub-assemblies can be monitored as they move between work cells and finished goods can be tracked in storage areas or the yard. Some companies have reported the implementation of IoT solutions allowed them to reduce assembly line production times by nearly 50%.
More importantly, the automated tracking of products throughout each step of the manufacturing process yields a higher-quality end product and increased customer satisfaction. For manufacturers that produce multiple versions of a product on the same production line, IoT sensors can reduce operator errors and flawed products. For instance, Visi-Trac can alert an operator if he/she attempts to put the incorrect component into a product during assembly. With 100% traceability of a product throughout its manufacturing process, companies can save a substantial amount of money in labor costs and materials from preventing defective products.
Another way in which IoT technology is being applied is to optimize equipment usage. Utilizing RFID tags, data can be collected about the machinery’s health and status. Knowing when a piece of equipment needs to be repaired, or when a tool needs to be calibrated can reduce or eliminate downtime. To emphasize the importance of reducing downtime, a study published in 2021 revealed that downtime in the automotive industry can cost a company up to $50,000 per minute.
Site Security and Workplace Safety
Increased safety and security is another benefit companies will find with IoT technologies. Using Real Time Location Systems (RTLS), smart beacons, or RFID tags, geofences can be created for specific zones within a facility. If a manufacturing site has areas with varying access restrictions, Visi-Trac can send an alert when an asset is taken in or out of a zone, and its location can be displayed and tracked in real-time.
With a high degree of versatility, IoT solutions can also be utilized to monitor personnel to improve employee and workplace safety. With an RFID tag embedded in a personnel badge or article of work clothing (e.g., safety vest, helmet), it is simple to verify that employees and contractors are wearing the appropriate PPE when working in a facility and the security of restricted zones can be ensured. Moreover, data from biometric and environmental sensors can be monitored to ensure the health and safety of employees.
The Future of Manufacturing
While this is far from an exhaustive list of the full range of applications for IoT solutions, it demonstrates how the utilization of RFID technologies is truly revolutionizing the manufacturing industry. With the ability to have real-time visibility throughout the entire manufacturing process, companies can accelerate the optimization of their manufacturing operations. The versatility of our IoT solutions allows anyone from local manufacturers to multi-national enterprises to reduce their operating costs while increasing productivity, production capability, efficiency and quality.
If you would like to partner with the leading company in the RFID industry or learn more about how we can optimize your operations, please send us a note on the “Contact Us” form or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.