Article written by: Karen Dubeau
Adopting technology in the manufacturing sector is like walking a tightrope. You don’t want to jump on every new technology that promises to change everything. For example, imagine you invested in new technology and that was discontinued or it was immediately replaced.
But at the same time, failing to be an early adopter on an actual game-changer may give your competition a big advantage. For example, imagine you decided that CRMs were an expensive waste and your competition leveraged Salesforce to gain traction with sales process while you were still undecided.
|Believe us when we say that the Internet of Things (IoT) is absolutely here to stay and it’s already disrupting marketplaces in all sectors. The companies that figure out how to use it effectively will be rewarded.
But, with so many tasks and decisions, it may be difficult to figure out where to start. Here are the first 4 steps that you should take.
1. Choose Your Devices and Sensors Carefully
The IoT should make life easier for manufacturing companies in a number of ways. Properly utilized, the tools and the data gathered from those tools can increase efficiency by:
- Identifying bottlenecks
- and learning how to predict them
- Helping you shift from
- preventative maintenance to “predictive maintenance” to know exactly when machines will need maintenance
- Track your assets in real-time
- using location based technology
- Analyse your energy usage
- and output to help you reduce costs & optimize production
All of these things can help your organization immensely, but choosing the tools that will get you there is a major challenge. You can basically put this technology into two classes: Sensors and Devices.
The sensors will be what gathers all of this new data from around the production site. They could be anything from video monitoring equipment to temperature monitoring devices. Whereas the devices are the equipment that the front-line and front office will interact with every day.
Choose the tools that can help your business today, while you ensure things are scalable for the future.
2. Ensure Connectivity
Most manufacturing facilities were not built or designed with internet connectivity on the production floor and in between equipment. So, many come with layout challenges.
However, connectivity and access to the cloud is obviously going to be a priority. You may need to audit your facility for dead spots and fill the gaps with cellular, satellite, wifi, Bluetooth, or low power wide area networks (LPWAN).
3. Prepare For Big Data
You’re about to open up an ocean of valuable data points, but your team may only be comfortable with a few.
One of the first mistakes that companies commit when rolling out IoT technology is putting the technology in place, but failing to put the human system in place. Managers may not be prepared for what all this data will do to their day-to-day operations. This leads to the data sitting in the cloud and growing stale without being propagated upwards.
Ensure that everyone is properly trained, with realistic and accurate expectations of what the shifts in their roles could look like. This is the only way to harness this tech for results.
4. Gain Employee Buy-in
As illustrated in the previous example, all of this new stuff is only helpful if your workforce uses it. Be careful how you position it. A traditional manufacturing workforce is trained to be timeline and deliverable-focused. Any new technology or new procedures may be seen as intimidating next steps.
Sell the benefit of this new technology directly to the front-line staff to drive participation. For example, let them know digitizing inspections means they can complete them faster, and never touch a piece of paper again.
How Does the City of Barrie Help the Manufacturing Sector?
The City of Barrie supports regional manufacturers in the development, acquisition, and implementation of innovative practices, technologies, and capabilities. Resources include education, events, ecosystem development, service referrals, business growth, and labour market strategies.
City of Barrie is a key investor in the new Advanced Technology Centre at Georgian College, focused on supporting 4.0 industry-academic collaborations, as well as the Sandbox Centre for Shared Entrepreneurship & Innovation, a network of companies focused on innovation.