New technologies can reshape global manufacturing by unlocking productivity gains. Some countries could boost annual manufacturing value added by up to $530 billion over current trends by 2025. However, some may be concerned to read that the growth in US manufacturing eased last year from a 13-year high.
The industry has been slow to catch up on leading technologies, including overall connectivity and data collection. But this is about to change with the introduction of Industry 4.0. Manufacturers need to prepare themselves for digitisation of factories, making use of analytics, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.
Optimise the performance of manufacturing machinery with smart sensors. Applying this technology to machines can change them into smart devices, capable of connecting to intelligent networks along the entire value chain.
Providing manufacturers with the opportunity to revolutionise their plants, smart sensors can improve operations and increase production efficiencies. Take a look at the five key applications of smart sensors in the manufacturing industry.
1. Monitor, control and improve operations with data-backed insights
Big data is already being used in industries such as healthcare and finances. It will also stand to have a huge impact on the manufacturing industry. 87% of manufacturers surveyed by Deloitte believe that Industry 4.0 will lead to more social and economic equality and stability.
Smart sensors generate data by connecting disparate devices and systems, enabling different machines to talk to one another. This creates seamless connectivity throughout the plant, allowing manufacturers to:
2. Predict equipment failure and trigger maintenance protocols
Manufacturers are cutting operations and maintenance budgets in an attempt to remain competitive. Minimising the requirement for maintenance can save costs and improve overall efficiencies.
Smart sensors enable manufacturers to reduce their Replacement Asset Value (RAV) by reducing unnecessary scheduled maintenance, costs of part replacements, and the potential for business downtime. Smart technology makes it easier for manufacturers to transition from scheduled maintenance to predictive maintenance.
Data can detect patterns, foreshadowing the need to service equipment. Smart sensors can use this data to send alerts to users, notifying them of potential issues so they can be prevented before they become points of failure.
3. Automatically log data for historical records and regulatory compliance
Manufacturers may be affected by EPA or other environmental regulations. OSHA, ISO and Energy Star standards and industry-specific regulations demand that manufacturing plants are complaint with stringent rules.
Many manufacturers will be required to generate reports to prove their compliance. These reports can include historical data, records, and logs. These can be time-consuming to collate, may need to be pulled from fragmented systems, and they may even be inaccurate.
Installing smart sensors in manufacturing equipment or warehouse systems can improve efficiency and accuracy. Sensors will automatically log data like energy consumption, temperature, humidity, hours of operation, maintenance, and production line outputs.
4. Receive notifications of anomalies threatening process and quality standards
Smart sensors not only reduce the burden of regulatory compliance, they're also instrumental in improving production processes. They can identify system anomalies that could affect production output or product quality and provide real-time notification of such issues.
Manufacturers can be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to resolving issues. This will help the plant to avoid business downtime. Manufacturers can also foster competitive advantages, enhance services, increase availability and improve customer satisfaction.
5. Speed the flow of information and responsiveness to market conditions
Smart sensors give manufacturers the opportunity to adopt agile methodologies, making real-time changes to processes that can increase production output. The data generated by sensors can increase transparency over the plant and provide visual representations of peaks and flows throughout the factory.
By having sight over customer demands, manufacturers can be more responsive, scale their businesses more easily, ensuring that productivity always leads to profitability.
Smart sensors and the digitisation of manufacturing will enable companies to keep producing in a way that is more transparent, more efficient, of greater quality. Manufacturers will be more compliant and more profitable as a result of greater accuracy throughout the plant.
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Ian Hopkins is a technical sales professional and business leader with more than 15 years’ experience in delivering energy efficiency projects and strategy in Europe and the United States. Ian is the UK & Ireland Sales Director for Centrica Business Solutions.
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