The internet of things (IoT).
It’s a topic that has been mentioned with increasing frequency in recent years. So, what exactly does it mean?
IoT is a system of interrelated devices, mechanical and digital machines such as automatic multihead weighers and checkweighers, each with a unique identifier and the ability to transfer data over a network without the need for human interaction. A ‘thing’ within this system can be anything that has been assigned an IP (internet protocol) address and can transfer data.
In the IoT, computers will gather data, interpret data and track and count everything without human input; reducing waste, loss and – of course – cost.
The insights provided are also hugely valuable. At every stage of the manufacturing process we would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling and whether they were fresh or past their best before dates.
The introduction of IoT principals into manufacturing is referred to as the fourth industrial revolution or Industry 4.0. Using IoT allows manufacturers to use ‘big data’ to improve efficiency, develop automation, and provide customer and competitive benefits.
The benefits of the IoT include sensor-driven decision analytics, process optimisation, improved resource consumption and instant control and response in complex autonomous systems. In the B2B manufacturing world, perhaps the main driver behind IoT is supply chain analytics – where products are delivered ‘just in time’, at the point of need, right through the process value chain, enabling lean manufacturing.
As manufacturing pushes towards more automation in weighing and packaging – as well as in other areas – through robotics, machine 2 machine and predictive and prescriptive analytics, the IoT will become increasing important as the human workforce is gradually reduced; being replaced by automated weighing, checkweighing and packaging solutions.
The Internet of Things is used in manufacturing operations, production asset management and maintenance and field service. In operations IoT allows manufacturers to take an integrated approach to their operations.
One of the key drivers behind the IoT is the need to reduce costs, ramp up productivity and increase profits. With the demand from end users for cheaper, but better quality options, the only way to maintain margins is to drive efficiencies in the manufacturing process. And the IoT supports a smart manufacturing process with production flow monitoring, remote equipment management, condition-based maintenance alerts and usage of data. All of these have an operational impact and help to reduce costs and drive up productivity… and therefore profits.
At Yamato, we are embracing Industry 4.0 principles in technology development. The benefits of the latest developments in the speed and accuracy of Yamato Scale’s automatic weighing technology are already achieving results. As Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things develops greater benefits will emerge. Watch this space!