Guest blog | Written by David Madden, Founder of Container Exchanger, ExchangerHub
The Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming the way the world does business. Companies large and small are utilizing this technology to automate routine processes, analyze business operations and improve quality control. The same is true of the manufacturing industry. Global manufacturers are on track to invest $70 billion in IoT solutions by the year 2020, which is more than twice the amount they spent in 2015. From onsite safety to real-time inventory tracking, manufacturers can benefit from these devices in more ways than one. Learn more about how IoT is transforming the world’s approach to manufacturing.
1. Better Visibility
At its core, IoT helps business owners learn more about their operations. Smart devices like inventory scanners, CRMs and manufacturing equipment can be used to automate the data collection process, giving business leaders a window into how well their facilities are performing in real-time. Overall, this provides better visibility at every stage of the manufacturing process.
Volvo Cars Ghent uses Sensolus to connect and track each of its vehicles as they move through the manufacturing process. Each vehicle was equipped with a remotely-configurable sensor that relays the car’s exact geographic location within the manufacturing facility. The installation process didn’t require any advanced technical training, so the company was able to connect its inventory over the course of a month. Thanks to this new technology, Volvo can now identify which cars have been inactive for too long and at which point in the production chain a car has been delayed.
Owners and managers can seamlessly collect data on their operations and pass this information along to their shareholders, customers and business partners. How business owners use this data is up to them, but maintaining a robust company-wide database has never been easier.
2. Cost-Saving Analysis
Having automated the data collection process, business leaders can use this information to improve their operations at every turn. Parsing through the data, they can look for opportunities to save money, improve efficiency, and reduce the margin of error. In fact, IoT can decrease product development and assembly costs by up to 50 percent.
Many of these data analytics programs also come with artificially intelligent algorithms that look for cost-saving opportunities on the owner’s behalf. Using a mass of aggregate product and operational data, AI programs will look for weak spots in the manufacturing process and offer suggestions on how operations can be improved.
Using this data, business owners may discover that they can speed up production by altering a product’s design, investing in bulk storage containers, leveraging new equipment or manufacturing materials or by changing the layout of the facility. But these changes are often only possible once a robust data analytics system is in place.
3. Real-Time Inventory Tracking
Speaking of transparency, business owners can use IoT to better manage their inventory. Smart devices are being used to scan products as they make their way through the supply chain. Every order that comes in and out of the facility will be automatically logged in the system. Once a product has been tagged, managers can track individual items in real-time so that they will always know if their products will be delivered on time. If a shipment is delayed, they can quickly solve the problem and work with their customers to find a reasonable solution.
When combined with the company’s sales data, these programs can even anticipate future demand, helping business owners make more informed inventory management decisions. These programs will analyze a company’s order fulfillment history to get a better sense of how demand tends to fluctuate over time. This helps business owners better manage their inventory so that they don’t have to turn customers away or get stuck with “slow-moving” inventory.
4. Improving On-Site Safety and Security
In addition to improving operational efficiency, business owners can use IoT to spot and solve possible safety hazards in the workplace. Smart devices will alert operational managers when a piece of equipment needs to be repaired or replaced, preventing costly delays and on-site accidents. Managers can also get a better sense of how their products move throughout the facility, helping them create a more efficient workflow that keeps employees out of harm’s way and reduces the chances of error.
These systems can also log information about how a product was created, including whether employees used the right equipment or followed the right protocol when generating these products. Managers can also use these tools to remind their employees of facility protocol so that they don’t accidentally injure themselves on the job.
5. Comprehensive Quality Control
IoT is also changing the manufacturing industry’s approach to quality control. Devices can be used to collect as much data as possible on how a product was made, all the way from the raw materials used in the manufacturing process to how products are transported to the retailer. Business owners can use technology to better manage their suppliers, making sure they’re adhering to brand and regulatory standards. They can also vet the ingredients or materials their suppliers used to generate these products and whether they’re up to the company’s standards.
The same is true of the manufacturing process. Business owners can monitor how products are made on-site to make sure every item is market-ready. They can also monitor these products as they move throughout the supply chain, including temperature-sensitive items with specific transportation requirements.
This helps business leaders identify possible quality issues before their products reach the market, improving the company’s relationships with its suppliers and customers. Business leaders won’t have to worry as much about product contamination and other quality issues that could damage the company’s reputation.
6. Quality Customer Service
With better quality control, real-time product tracking and better onsite safety and efficiency, business leaders can use these tools to provide better customer service. Companies can solidify their reputation in the industry, giving them an edge over the competition. Business leaders can also use these tools to learn more about what their customers think of their products so that they can adjust their operations accordingly. If a customer is dissatisfied with a delivery or item, managers can trace the product in the system, find out what went wrong and prevent this kind of incident from happening in the future.
The Future of Manufacturing
In the manufacturing industry, IoT is all about collecting data. Business owners can improve their operations as they look for cost-saving solutions, monitor their products as they move through the supply chain, reduce inefficiencies and improve product quality. By automating the data collection process, business owners can spend more time analyzing the data as they adjust their operations for the better.
ExchangerHub is your destination for industrial and warehousing equipment, both new and used. They specialize in surplus materials including a large variety of bulk containers, Gaylord boxes, pallets, carts, warehouse racking, and storage solutions, and even scrap metals. ExchangerHub connects buyers and sellers in a marketplace loaded with products from across North America, Canada, and Mexico.