Advancement in the Internet of Things technology has resulted in significant improvements in field service operations. In the past, field technicians had to grapple with inaccuracies in diagnosis leading to wastage of time and resources. However, with IoT, it has become possible for hardware devices on the ground to be in communication with offshore software to gain critical information regarding the state of field equipment.
According to Gartner, more than 20 billion IoT devices existed in 2020. A further 5 billion will exist by 2025. IoT integration has had a major impact on ROI in manufacturing, where companies rely heavily on expensive machinery. Being able to monitor the health and performance of machines will directly impact the balance sheet positions of companies by lengthening the life of important assets.
Let’s look at how IoT-connected field service solutions add value to manufacturers.
By deploying IoT field service solutions, manufacturers constantly get and analyze data from their machines. In case of a fault, the data may prove useful in identifying the cause quickly.
Some IoT devices can self-diagnose. Technicians tasked with maintenance can get first-time diagnosis correctly. The time savings stack up and they complete more jobs over a month. The company might end up needing fewer technicians than it would have without access to the data.
Maintenance has traditionally been associated with reacting to problems long after they happen. This would also come with delays or stoppages in production.
However, IoT is transforming this by transmitting data that is fed into algorithms to reveal the state of machines and predict possible problems.
Data such as temperatures, vibrations, currents, voltages, and fuel efficiency can be used to make important predictions. Manufacturers can receive alerts, thus automating the maintenance system. It minimizes the reliance on the subjective judgment of technicians who conduct routine manual inspections.
Predictive maintenance can significantly reduce the average downtime, machine failures, and maintenance costs needed to keep your customers’ equipment running.
Besides this, predictive maintenance increases the life of your service parts while reducing the amount of inventory required to support servicing machines. Reduced downtime also means more production.
Remote Production Control
Oil, gas, and power producers have their operations spread out over large geographical areas. With pipelines and power lines stretching hundreds of kilometers, IoT devices prove very useful in remote production control.
It is now possible to supervise and control such things as valves, switches, and other elements in the production process.
A service engineer can have a screen where they see real-time indicators of the production line. They can communicate with engineers on the ground whenever something arises, including potential hazards.
It not only increases safety in risky places such as oil production plants, but it paints a clearer picture of how an occurrence in one part of the field impacts the entire system.
The importance of asset tracking in manufacturing can never be overstated. Being able to know the real time location of raw materials, ready inventory, delivery vehicles, and even production equipment is crucial.
By collecting relevant data, an organization can streamline operations to minimize costs by adjusting routes, frequency of orders, location of warehouses, and other variables. For movable assets, monitoring idle time will help make decisions on how best to optimize usage.
Asset tracking also minimizes opportunities for theft and pilferage in large manufacturing organizations. By having equipment transmit data in real-time, it will be easy to notice at what precise time the device went offline.
Increased visibility of assets, including being able to draw quick reports from the field service software dashboard on the location and condition of assets, enriches management decision making.
Implementing IoT in Your Manufacturing Enterprise
IoT can increase efficiency rapidly to manufacturing companies that implement it correctly. Being able to carry out predictive maintenance and even remotely control operations can increase the useful length of assets and improve labor efficiency. However, when thinking about introducing new IoT connected devices, a couple considerations must be made.
First, it must be clear how the investment will translate into real value for your company. The gains must be measurable to be considered justifiable. Conversations with experienced field staff are important to understand whether the insights from data collected will significantly affect their workflow.
Another concern would be security. Connecting manufacturing equipment to a network creates avenues for attacks. 57% of manufacturing devices connected to an external network have no antivirus protection. This may explain why a third of all malware attacks globally target manufacturing enterprises. To be safe, before connecting devices to an external network, it’s important to figure out how to secure the data transmission of data from the IoT device to where it will be computed. A firewall may not work properly because it may hinder remote monitoring and updates of the IoT device.
If your company needs help implementing IoT or finding opportunities for IoT connection in your workflow, check out MSI Data.
We help companies maximize their uptime by being able to monitor machine health and carry out proactive servicing. Service Pro Software helps companies transform data from IoT-connected machines into actionable insights.