13-01-2020 | | By Moe Long
Often, connected devices are thought of in the smart home space. And indeed, smart home technology is an excellent example of the Internet of Things in action. However, connected devices are incredibly common in several industrial realms, from professional sports to shipping and manufacturing. Learn about how connected devices enable manufacturing and shipping!
It’s increasingly common that devices sport internet connectivity, commonly wireless technology. For instance, many lightbulbs, speakers, thermostats, and even kitchen appliances such as microwaves tout internet capabilities. In my home, I’ve replaced all my lights with smart bulbs and installed a smart thermostat. My microwave, I’m pleased to report, does not feature Alexa onboard.
But outside of residential IoT, there’s industrial IoT. At its most basic, industrial Internet of Things relies on embedded devices and sensors which record and report data. Aggregated data may then be used for artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve processes and bolster the efficiency of supply chains for instance.
While the Industrial Revolution ushered in a major societal transformation in the mid-1700s, this growing trend of smart factories is something of a new industrial revolution, an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) revolution. A March 2017 study found that over 67% of manufacturing companies had adopted smart technology. Normally separate entities are therefore connected through the use of IoT devices. As such, this provides valuable insights which may be transformed into actionable analytics.
Among the top benefits of connected manufacturing and shipping is the collection of data which can be used for predictive analytics. When a system ceases functioning, sensors can generate a request. These logs can then be analyzed to more accurately predict when a machine or process will break down, and therefore prevent issues in the future. Predictive analytics analyzes data to draw out insights. This leads to preventative maintenance, identifying potential failures and taking proactive measures to identify breakdowns before they happen.
The key to the manufacturing industry is to boost efficiency and productivity. With the ability to track assets and collect data, machine learning provides observations of an end-to-end process. Connected supply chains are increasingly common. Thus, the entire product lifecycle is tracked, from manufacturer and supplier to logistical and shipping systems. With automated supply chains and predictive analytics implemented to reduce downtime, IIoT continues to increase efficiency and heighten quality control.
Additionally, the shipping industry benefits from industrial IoT as well. Asset management and tracking are crucial in transport, as it is in a factory. For connected shipping, optimization of transit comes from an increase in connected devices. Delivery vehicles are sent real-time updates of traffic conditions and fuel-efficient routes, thereby conserving resources, financial and otherwise, as well as ensuring increasingly accurate deliveries. With sensors, automatic reporting lends transparency to the entire process, from manufacturing and shipping to vendors. Plus, sensor data from vehicles themselves add to fault tolerance and identification.
Shipping giant FedEx has adopted IoT. As Forbes explains, sensors embedded in packaging makes the entire shipment process more visible. Particularly for time-sensitive materials, such as medical supplies, this is an essential function. Climate-controlled shipping containers may be monitored throughout the entire process, and route alterations implemented in real-time. FedEx employs SenseAware, a platform that allows for the monitoring of data ranging from location to temperature and humidity, barometric pressure, light exposure, and more. While the average consumer ordering a package from Amazon might not need such insights, this data is incredibly necessary for certain fields such as medical applications and the food industry.
Ultimately, the trend is clear. By capturing and analyzing more data in the manufacturing and shipping industries, data-driven insights continue to shape the entire process. This, in turn, manifests as an uptick in efficiency, resource conservation, and predictive analytics which aim to continually optimize processes, identify and avoid breakdowns, plus better understand various systems and their interconnectivity.