The Industrial Internet
21. May 2013
Let's take a look at how data analytics and the industrial internet can improve manufacturing. A recent article by Software Advice attempts to shed some light on this subject.
"There’s a new term that’s starting to pop up in the manufacturing technology industry: the Industrial Internet. It’s a term coined by General Electric (GE) that describes the network that connects sophisticated machines embedded with sensors and computer software so manufacturers can gain real-time insights into everything from manufacturing resource planning to pending maintenance issues. According to a recent GE report, Industrial Internet technologies could potentially add $15 trillion to the global GDP through gains in manufacturing productivity by 2030.
Whether the Industrial Internet can deliver these gains is up for debate, but manufacturers certainly stand to benefit from connecting their increasingly automated shop floors to intelligent software systems that can boost productivity. But although this term is starting to gain traction within the manufacturing technology industry, few have detailed how, exactly, manufacturers can use this technology. Contributing writer Cindy Waxer recently detailed 5 ways that manufacturers put this technology to use.
1. Improve efficiency. Sensors can be connected to machines to relay information relevant to productivity such as energy consumption, machine temperature range and output levels.
2. Reduce waste. Software can help build an energy monitoring system by telling production workers when to turn off machines to prevent machine overuse.
3. Enhance machine productivity. Machine output can be carefully tracked and measured by data analytics software to prevent machine downtime and increase productivity.
4. Identify and predict maintenance issues before they happen. Software systems can model a machine’s usage patterns and output to alert workers when a particular part (e.g. a belt) is about to give out.
5. Cut production costs. All this information in aggregate can help cut downtime (and lost productivity) to ensure manufacturers spend their time producing rather than tending to low-value tasks.
One example of a company that was able to realize benefits thanks to using Industrial Internet technologies is Curtis Wright Control, a manufacturer of advanced aerospace and defense technologies. Curtis Wright Controls, was looking for a better way to collect shop floor data and improve equipment utilization. By using the MTConnect standard for data collection from machine tools, they were able to gain insights into their production.
The information gained from this data collection allowed the plant team to easily compare performance across different machine tools and then optimize their process planning so they used the right machines for the right job. The result: Curtis Wright Controls saw a 20 percent improvement in machine usage in just 10 weeks."
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