- The Internet of Things (IoT), which enables data exchange and analysis between equipment and devices, offers manufacturers opportunities to become more flexible, efficient, and cost-effective across supply chains.
- However, manufacturers have integrated smart technology or embedded intelligence into only about one-quarter (median) of their production equipment and processes, according to a study from The MPI Group. Often manufacturers lack the infrastructure to make IoT usage within their operations possible or cannot readily justify the costs.
- More than three-quarters of manufacturers said they would increase implementation of IoT in the next two years to achieve various objectives, such as to "improve product quality, increase the speed of operations, decrease manufacturing costs, improve maintenance/uptime, and improve information for business analytics," according to Packaging World.
While cost can be a hindrance to IoT adoption in a manufacturing setting, it doesn't have to be.
Software upgrades are a first step to establishing better communication between employees and equipment. This can generate data that either employees or a software system can use to optimize various manufacturing processes, such as temperature control or production speeds.
Food and beverage companies continue to slim down operations to become more flexible and efficient and generate cost savings. These savings can offset losses at the top line while processed food manufacturers adapt to changes in consumer preferences.
When implementing IoT at any point in the supply chain, however, security will always be an issue for manufacturers. Connecting devices and company data to the Internet, especially when data is housed in the cloud, always comes at an increased risk of exposure. Being aware of the risks and taking precautions can enable manufacturers to adopt a new level of connectivity.