From alerting custodians when a garbage can is full to monitoring human vital signs, IoT technologies continue to play a growing role in multiple industries. This is especially true in the field of electronics manufacturing, where these technologies are now used in everything from machinery maintenance to remote device programming.
The growth of IoT has been fueled by multiple factors. New 5G and cloud technologies have sped up data transfer so that connected devices can respond more quickly. Sensors have become more efficient and less expensive. And advances in neural networks and other forms of AI have made IoT systems both more robust and easier to manage.
Specifically in electronics manufacturing, IoT-connected machinery allows entire systems to work seamlessly together, making it easier to monitor quality and modify maintenance work in real time. IoT technology speeds up the process of identifying procedural gaps and the need for upgrades in equipment.
When it comes to data management, IoT enables manufacturers to communicate instantly with customers and stakeholders. This, in turn, makes the sourcing of raw materials and the tracking of inventory more transparent. It also shortens production times and improves overall performance rates.
With today’s cloud technologies, all accrued data is easily accessible to those who need it. This means that despite the well-known energy requirements of IoT systems, the gains far outweigh the costs. According to one forecast, IoT will “save more than eight times the energy it consumes by 2030,” while driving a reduction in C02 emissions and water usage. Perhaps the best news of all, where IoT meets electronics manufacturing, is the cost savings generated by this technology’s myriad applications—from pinpointing sources of product damage to identifying large-scale supply chain trends.
From smart homes, to smart cities, to smart businesses and industries, ElectronicDesign.com affirms IoT’s proliferation, noting that early-adopting companies will gain an edge: “IoT is ready for exponential growth this year, boasting robust technology and a thriving ecosystem.”
Mike Douglas, General Manager for PRIDE Industries Electronics Manufacturing Services, notes these specific uses of IoT within electronics manufacturing operations:
- Asset tracking throughout the supply chain. Through the use of attached sensors, IoT-enabled asset management keeps organizations aware of their assets’ information, minimizing the need for human effort.
- Predictive maintenance. Via real-time, constant monitoring of equipment and tools, gathered data enables businesses to predict, plan, and prepare for equipment failure or malfunction before it occurs. And, because this maintenance can be performed while equipment is operating, business disruptions are avoided.
- Inventory management. Sensors attached to each item allow businesses to easily keep track of their precise locations, reducing the time it takes to locate inventory. Moreover, real-time accrued data, gathered via sensors and software, provide key insights when it comes to tactical business decisions
- Digital work Instructions. By translating procedures into a “human-centered” way of working and by providing real-time data about product status, digital work instructions improve throughput and turnaround time, mitigating bottle necks and constraints—all driving improvement in productivity, quality, and safety.
- Supply chain optimization. By linking demand signals with available supply, SCO seamlessly ensures continuity of goods supporting the manufacturing process. IoT technology is also able to monitor goods throughout the shipping process, enhancing communication between suppliers and buyers.
- Capacity optimization. The availability of real-time data, as to work-in-process status, enables enrichment of capacity optimization tools.
- Facility management. From lighting and HVAC control and monitoring to measuring building occupancy, IoT technology can save money while upgrading health and safety measures.
Though IoT has been around for awhile now, its applications will greatly expand through 2022 and beyond, with wide adoption across industries. To maintain a competitive edge, the electronics manufacturing industry will need to remain cognizant of new uses and their potential benefits.