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Will the Internet of Things Impact Traceability for Manufacturers?

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is making quite a ruckus on the web. But how important is it and will it have an impact on the way manufacturers do business? In this post, we will review the basics of IoT, the importance of the phenomenon and finish up with some unforeseen consequences of all those connected devices.Walt Mossberg, is quoted explaining what the IoT is in A Beginner's Guide to Understanding the Internet of Things by Bonnie Cha on recode.
“The broad idea behind these buzzwords is that a whole constellation of inanimate objects is being designed with built-in wireless connectivity, so that they can be monitored, controlled and linked over the Internet via a mobile app.”

A Few Examples of IOT

One of the first examples of IoT that I was made aware of is the Amazon Dash Button. It is a connected device that can be used to order domestic consumables. With a push of the the Dash Button, an order is placed in your stead with the online retailer and it is delivered to your door in the following days.

Another example, in the industrial sector this time, shows the benefits which can accrue out of the use of IIoT. Trenitalia, a train operator based in Italy, uses connected sensors on its trains. Dr. Tanja Rueckert, executive vice president, IoT & Digital Supply Chain at SAP explains:

“You’re riding on a train and want to arrive on time, and have the air conditioning, bathroom doors and brakes working. Two thousand sensors on Trenitalia trains obtain information by component, helping them save $150 million a year in maintenance costs, while creating a differentiated passenger experience” 1

The Dash Button and other similar sensors, like those used in industrial applications similar to that of Trenitalia, use very little power and transmit a very small amount of data. This makes these applications a useful and efficient alternative to manually monitoring a particular functionality and provides useful and timely data to decision makers.

Some Voracious Applications

Other applications, such as video surveillance, require a lot more bandwidth and much more data storage. According to Cisco’s visual networking index internet video surveillance has increased by 71% in 2016 and Cisco anticipates that internet video surveillance of traffic will be multiplied by 7 between 2016 and 2021.

In a different survey by Zebra, 1100 decision makers that have influence over technology purchases were surveyed.

  • 63% of the respondents state that traceability and tracking is and will continue to be an important question in the coming years
  • 64% of manufacturers expect to be fully connected by 2022
  • Over the same period, only 20% expect to keep using pen and papers to track important manufacturing processes

All this information has to travel through the web, most of the time to large server farms, but also to some local servers. This is especially valid for more sensitive information or information that requires rapid data access. Information travel and storage require a lot of energy, even though the large server farms owned by dedicated companies are interested in keeping costs to a minimum and will make their servers as energy efficient as possible. So IoT and IIoT will certainly require a lot of energy especially considering that the run of the mill servers of small and medium manufacturers will probably not be as energy efficient as the major players'.2

The Last Words

Let’s finish with the wise words of Mark Hollran, CEO and President of Xplore Technologies - a manufacturer of rugged tablets for industrial applications :

“[Manufacturer’s] biggest challenge is trying to balance the need for greater efficiency, and therefore greater digitalization, in their business processes with the need to maximize existing systems for as long as possible to minimize waste.”3

Ultimately this is the reason IIoT will be a huge part of manufacturing in the coming years.

Laserax is an industrial laser system manufacturer that provides efficient, innovative and safe solutions for the most demanding applications. We rely on a team of laser technology experts to offer a complete range of products and services for marking, cutting and welding applications. Should you have tracking and traceability concerns feel free to contact our laser technology experts regarding our traceability solutions for manufacturers.

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Sources:

1- Galer, Susan (2017) "Learn What it Takes to Make a Business Case for IoT", Supply Chain IT. Retrieved from http://supplychainit.com/news/article.aspx?tid=7&aid=4445 on August 15 2017.

2- Lewis, Dyani (2016) "Will the Internet of Things Sacrifice or Save the Environment", The Guardian. retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/dec/12/will-the-internet-of-things-sacrifice-or-save-the-environment on August 15 2017.

3- Blanchard, Dave (2017) "High-Tech Manufacturers Should Focus More on Customers than Gadgetry", Industry Week. Retrieved from http://www.industryweek.com/manufacturing-leader-week/high-tech-manufacturers-should-focus-more-customers-gadgetry on August 12, 2017.

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