Adapting to a Just-In-Time World using the Internet of Things (IoT) — As consumers have greater access to product, there is a need to adapt manufacturing processes to become more flexible in a Just-In-Time world and to consider the need for the internet of things on the factory floor. Since the 1980s, automation has gradually digitized. Machine-to-machine (M2M) networks were established to communicate basic commands from one machine process to the next, using its own unique language. With the introduction of an Intranet (internal network), the opportunity to connect with other internal systems such as order fulfillment and material specifications, creates the impetus for digitizing production.
The goal is to ultimately connect your product into a supply chain that is already hurtling towards digital automation. By installing nimble production practices and streamlining production, you will remain competitive. Not only will higher and more accurate output be achieved, but the ability to communicate in real-time to customers and vendors improves customer service, reduces error and positions your company as a value-add supplier. Here are a few basic steps to help manufacturing facilities begin the process of integrating with the internet:
- Automate wherever possible
- Install high-speed Internet service
- Include Internet-capable equipment (Smart Devices)
- Connect digitally between the factory floor and the office (Intranet)
- Establish real-time reporting whenever possible
The solution is to create a collective intelligence on the factory floor that can receive and transmit information about the production process. From incoming orders to outgoing shipments, digitally connecting the manufacturing environment to the supply chain in real-time is the future of industry.
Automation and the Internet of Things on the Factory Floor
In our previous blog about Automated Packaging, we explored the tools available for streamlining the production workflow. The next step is to connect production machinery and equipment to each other by assigning each piece of equipment with an IP address. This enables real-time information to be received and transmitted. Equipment that communicates using the Internet enables internal connectivity to local networks and systems using the most widely used form of communications: a web browser.
High-Speed Internet Service
Many businesses have already invested in high-speed, reliable Internet service for their offices and traveling workforce. Smart devices that quickly access the Internet save time for sales, marketing and business development functions. Applying the same logic to the factory floor establishes a universal language for equipment and devices that have not previously been able to share data or send information to each other. Having a reliable communications channel is key to creating local networks as well as connecting to the world-wide-web.
Smart Equipment and Devices
More equipment than you realize already has the ability to connect to the Internet. Most digital equipment comes equipped with wireless connectivity. Barcode printers with the capability to encode RFID sensors, barcode scanners and RFID readers connected directly to the production system are examples of using the Internet to connect your equipment into a network of information. If we think of the internet as the “Information Superhighway”, smart devices are high-performance vehicles – getting further, faster and more efficiently.
Something as simple as a stand-alone barcode label printer that can receive data over the Internet reduces wiring and un-encumbers the printer.
Intranet – a Local Communications Network
Most company offices are already connected via a network of locally connected devices. Many of these stations (desktops, printers, smartphones) are already connected to the Internet. By connecting the Factory Floor to the Company Intranet, you are creating a means by which real-time production information is instantly available to anyone with permission and access to the Intranet.
Up-to-date information supports all aspects of a successful manufacturing plant. With instant, accurate information available in real-time, all divisions of your company can be informed, aware and better equipped to do their jobs. Also, digital reporting, as opposed to manual logs, is more easily disseminated into:
• Salesforce Notifications
• Operations Oversight
• Raw Material Supply
• Shipping Logistics
As individuals, we rely on the Internet for everything from finding our way, buying what we need and communicating with friends and family all over the globe. We see online solutions for banking, shopping, eating, yet the integration of the Internet and manufacturing has not yet become mainstream. Preparing for the eventual integration of the Internet of Things on the factory floor is probably something you are already in the process of doing! Please feel free to contact us for your barcode and product label needs, PaladinID known for supporting our customers during infrastructure upgrades and helping to introduce new labeling technologies.
“Dana and the team at PaladinID were so helpful in our conversion to automated barcode and RFID labeling. These upgrades were mandated by the food and beverage industry” (happy customer Sam D.)