Achieving production targets to meet growing consumer demands is the primary goal of every plant floor in the manufacturing industry. To improve efficiency while controlling costs, leading manufacturers have optimized their production process using the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
IIoT technology, also known as Industry 4.0, uses remote sensors attached to physical assets to gather data, store it wirelessly, and use analytics and machine learning to perform a specific action. Sensors can be attached to machines, mobile devices, vehicles, and even personnel. All sensory data is integrated through a simple IP connection on narrow and broadband communication networks that most manufacturing plants already have in place.
For example, sensors in production machinery can be used to implement condition-based maintenance alerts to eliminate downtime that can cost thousands of dollars per minute. If oil levels are low or temperature limits exceed operational level, an alarm is triggered and on-site maintenance personnel automatically receive a work order ticket.
59% of manufacturing activities can (and soon will be) automated, meaning almost half of production operations still rely on people. In order to implement a “smart manufacturing” operation, companies first need to integrate their Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) departments.
IT employees prioritize the security of proprietary data, while OT employees focus on maximizing efficiency and uptime. It only makes sense that any strategy to automate production would need insights and collaboration from both the information and operational sides of technology.
Here are 10 questions manufacturers should ask before turning their operation into an Industrial Internet of Things:
- What challenges in your operation need to be addressed immediately?
- Does your current environment have enough space and resources to allow IT and OT staff to come together and collaborate, or should you consider training employees off-site?
- Does it make sense to partner with automation vendors and IT companies for training? Or would it be better to design a program on your own?
- Do you need to deploy new technologies across different locations?
- How many people need to be interacting with the new technology, and with what frequency?
- Will the new technologies integrate well with existing systems?
- Is there a long-term plan to replace old technology?
- How secure are the new technologies you’re considering adopting?
- Can you count on your vendors to regularly provide security patches against new vulnerabilities?
- Is this new solution scalable?
For the manufacturer’s complete guide to unlocking the full potential of IIoT, download our free Cisco Meraki e-book – 5 Ways to Unite IT and OT.
Need help deciding on the best strategy for implementing IIoT into your manufacturing operation? Nova Communications, a division of Rock Networks, has been working with the manufacturing industry for over 30 years. We leverage Cisco’s wireless portfolio, in addition to voice and data technologies from our industry-leading partners, to design, deploy, and support intelligent networks of machines and personnel.