The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) has become the latest buzzword associated with advancing technologies in the business world. One of the industries most aggressively embracing this process is manufacturing. In this week’s blog post we discuss what exactly the Internet of Things is and how industries can benefit from this changing technology.

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

IoT is the idea of connecting devices over the internet. Connecting devices to each other, to applications, and to us allows for an advanced technological process in which information is available to us at all times and in which we can use technologies in order to streamline our processes.

The manufacturing industry is one of the most advanced industries in terms of the Internet of Things. Manufacturing companies can implement IoT in order to simplify and streamline supply chain processes.

How can the Internet of Things help the supply chain?

Implementing IoT into company processes means having access to relevant data at every step of the supply chain. Connected devices means that there is real-time communication between machines, factories, logistics providers, and suppliers, allowing for improved visibility in the supply chain. put together a list of 11 improvements to the supply chain based on the development of IoT. They are:

  1. Revenue growth
  2. Asset utilization
  3. Waste reduction
  4. Customer service
  5. Profitability
  6. Sustainability
  7. Security
  8. Risk mitigation
  9. Working capital deployment
  10. Agility
  11. Equipment uptime

How can IoT help to make these improvements happen?

Devices with advanced technology are able to make critical decisions and adjust to complex scenarios. This allows management to focus their attention on other areas of the business. IoT is able to help with delay issues by rerouting materials/products based on delays at different points of the manufacturing process. These technologies are able to find demand for finished product in different markets, automate production starts as required, match supply and demand, streamline maintenance of machines, and better align companies with customer preferences based on consumer need.

Allowing devices to take control of making decisions for these processes means an automated and streamlined chain from end-to-end. It also means that responsibility for ensuring these processes run smoothly is taken off of the company’s employees and they are able to work on sustaining the business in other ways. provided an example in their article ‘The Internet of Things is Here. Is Your Shop Floor Ready?’ of how one packaging and chemicals company has embraced these technological advancements:

“Take a look at the impressive advances IoT is notching on the shop floor. A packaging and chemicals company, for example, made considerable gains in asset management by outfitting its forklift operators with Google Glass. The operators quickly scanned batch IDs of boxes and automatically generated transfer orders that integrated with the company’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system; this system also easily tracked packages as they checked in and out of storage bins. As a result of this connectivity, the company improved its inventory management and productivity. And by avoiding multiple touchpoints, it also reaped significant cost savings.”

Companies that are willing to embrace these connective technologies are likely to see significant advancements in productivity related to sensing, analyzing, production and control, and higher levels of automation. Supply chains using this technology will have a competitive edge in the future over non-integrated companies since companies embracing the Internet of Things will be able to provide relevant data at every step of the supply chain as well as develop a better understanding of consumer need and market supply and demand.