No matter where you look, everything seems to have an internet connection nowadays.
Gas pumps with weather forecasting, refrigerators that update your shopping list, home climate controls for heating and cooling are easily accessible via a phone app.
And while consumers only see the consumer-centric aspect of IoT, the biggest impact of IoT is actually focused on big players – manufacturers in almost all industries feel the impact too.
IoT in Car Production
Automakers are in a strong position to capitalize on these advancements in ways that have revolutionized the car making industry.
How has the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT or IoT) pierced the automobile industry at its very heart, the moving assembly line?
How will IoT improve Henry Ford’s already perfect system?
IoT technology is already changing everything in the same ways as machine learning and artificial intelligence. In fact, many elements of those technologies are employed as part of a generalized IoT deployment strategy.
Driving Force of IoT Integration for Automakers
The Automobile industry expects to generate over 1 trillion in revenue for 2019, on the sales of over 80 million vehicles worldwide.
With profit margins at or near a slim 2%, anything that can improve efficiency or cut costs in such a competitive market is worth looking into.
Consumers craving instant satisfaction have driven customization to the forefront of demand.
Such items as autonomous driving aids, augmented reality systems like heads-up displays, for backing and maneuvering and custom interior selections are complex, expensive and difficult to assemble in a mass-production setting.
The rising costs of injury litigation, both on the road and on the factory floor necessitate more complete, more concise and more accurate communication between the supply line, management, labor, machinery and every aspect of delivering and selling the product.
Industrial IoT offers solutions to these pressures and avoids them.
A network of interconnected machines, robots, control and monitoring systems together form the key to the efficient management of highly complex and demanding processes.
By saving material along with time and energy, productivity gains are almost automatic.
The Cloud Made It Happen
Without the inherent power of interconnected cloud computing, it would be impossible to process all the data being produced by machines that measure and weigh every part they make.
These machines would be communicating to robots moving around the factory bringing materials, tools and maintenance parts.
Management has direct access to the control room and the factory has a direct channel to the production floor.
Devices like satellite stereo and navigation, GPS and electronic road rescue programs are able to report data by the IoT back to the factories in real-time, allowing engineers to modify processes and put them in place on the assembly line.
Such operations produce and consume huge quantities of data, requiring immense data processing capabilities only provided on interconnected networks of big data supercomputers in an on-site server cloud.
Every automaker has enormous datacenters full of huge computing power. Without cloud technology, the data infrastructure couldn’t support this level of information exchange.
How IoT Solves Business Problems
Auto manufacturing is a business. Everything that impacts the factory impacts the bottom line.
Heavy equipment and power manufacturer Caterpillar has been using the IoT approach to keep tabs on in-field maintenance requirements by using sensors on its machinery to monitor engine conditions, wear on machinery, tire pressures and other important operating details to predict when a customer needs parts or maintenance.
The same system helps dealers and engineers correct quality problems and track training needs among operators and technicians.
Along with other personnel and internal corporate data, these statistics and commentary can accompany injury claims, promotion offers, negotiations over labor conditions and to tender offers to corporate management prospects.
In just about every way imaginable, the Internet of Things has profoundly affected the world of automobile manufacturing forever.
Nothing is going to do away with Henry Ford’s original concept. The efficiency of pieces or value added to the product at each station along a moving line is unsurpassed.
What the IoT has done is make that needed quantum leap in efficiency of the same idea. There are places where it allows shortcuts on the current process.
But the IoT approach to mass production will be a historic game-changer in manufacturing history.