How to Introduce the Internet of Things to Your Manufacturing Plant
Most of us are familiar with the Internet of Things by now. If you aren't using the IoT's infrastructure at your job, you've likely heard the term. With a focus on driving interconnectedness and interoperability throughout the modern workforce, the capabilities of the Internet of Things were inconceivable just a few decades ago. It might take some effort on your behalf to introduce this innovation to your staff, but the time will be worth it in the end.
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1.Understanding the Primary Benefits and Applications
The Internet of Things is beneficial to the modern manufacturing plant in several ways. Understanding these advantages and translating them for your staff members is a necessary step in any IoT launch.
-Increased automation on the factory floor leads to greater quality control, improved equipment longevity and decreased safety risks.
-Enhanced visibility throughout the entire manufacturing process makes it possible to track production from the receipt of raw materials through final product delivery.
-Next-gen sensors can identify shortcomings or bottlenecks that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. The data collected from these sensors can be used to introduce process improvements, streamline operations and improve productivity.
Your exact benefits and applications will depend on your specific manufacturing processes, but having a general idea of the most common advantages is helpful when seeking initial support for the IoT.
2.Creating a Plan and Following Through
Take some time to sit down with your current IT staff before launching your plans for integrating the Internet of Things. Soliciting their input, recommendations, and general guidance is an excellent way to involve your employees in a major project. Many of them will be more than willing to share their advice, which could prove helpful when it comes to choosing hardware and software systems, establishing access policies and performing general network maintenance.
3.Working in Tandem With Your Mission Statement
It's critical that your plan for IoT integration aligns with the goals and mission of your company. When focusing on security, spend some time to ensure the safety of your network. If your business revolves around customer service, make sure to let them know your plans. Those who work closely with partners or investors should include them in the decision-making process. Not only does this ensure a high level of communications throughout the upgrade process, but it maximizes your chances for a successful IoT rollout.
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4.Analyzing Current Infrastructure
Many factories and plants already have some of the necessary infrastructures in place. High-speed networking switches, Ethernet connectivity, and dedicated IP addresses are rather commonplace. It might require scaling up some of this hardware and add some extra equipment, but you might be surprised at the amount of framework you already have that's setup and ready to go.
5.Training and Orientating Your Staff
Starting off with a group-oriented presentation is one of the quickest and most efficient methods to introduce the fundamentals of the Internet of Things to a broad audience. Their individual knowledge of the subject is likely to vary, and some roles will require more interaction with the IoT than others, so use one-on-one training sessions to complement the introductory primer.
If necessary, you might consider offering structured training or education. Many agencies and academic institutions are now offering courses on the IoT and related technology. Classes like this are best reserved for those who have direct interaction with the IT systems of your company, but they can go a long way in ensuring the knowledge and skills needed to oversee a full IoT integration.
6.Controlling User Access
The IoT is meant to be highly accessible, but you can still monitor their access levels. By establishing privileges according to departments or the individual roles within, IT officials will benefit from a safer and more secure platform.
Diebold, Inc., a global leader, and manufacturer of automated teller machines (ATMs) maintains strict control over their contractors and field service agents. By using the Internet of Things, they're able to regulate and monitor network access to identify potential threats quicker than ever before.
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7.Bridging the Gap Between Humans and Robotics
The IoT relies heavily on automation and industrial robotics. While this has the potential impact operations for the better, many workers in the manufacturing sector are hesitant to embrace the technology. After all, introducing automated systems to the factory floor will undoubtedly result in the loss of jobs.
It's important to illustrate how your automation plans will compliment the work already done by workers on site. Demonstrating how robotics will make their jobs easier, as opposed to outright replacing them, is critical to gaining your staff's approval and acceptance of the new initiative. It could also open the doors for new and better opportunities on the factory floor, so it's a good idea to highlight some of these, too.
8.Preparing for New Devices
New and additional IP devices will likely be introduced over time, especially if you plan on scaling your network even further in the future. To minimize system downtime when adding new hardware, try to consider your future access policies, management strategies, and integration plans. This also ensures your competitiveness as innovations are launched, and new trends are revealed.
9.Analyzing Potential Risks
No IoT launch would be complete without a proper analysis of the potential risks. While it might be impossible to consider every single scenario, we can use our knowledge of recent and current risks to gauge those of the future.