If you work in manufacturing, chances are you’ve heard about “The Internet of Things.” As defined in this Forbes article, the Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the concept of connecting to the internet anything that has an on and an off switch.
For coating and print manufacturers, this can mean building a connected network of heaters, coolers, robotic spray arms, automatic control consoles, and other equipment.
How exactly would the IoT help to impact (and improve) your manufacturing process then?
Create new business models
Manufacturing business models are built around the central theme of creating a product and selling that product to a consumer. After the transaction, there might be little or no need for the manufacturer to interact with the client until the client needs to make another purchase.
Sure, maintenance and other add-ons have been key components of many manufacturing business models, but the IoT gives manufacturers greater opportunities to stay connected with consumers in the time following a purchase.
This Harvard Business Review article notes that with the IoT, “making money in the connected space is not limited to physical product sales; other revenue streams become possible after the initial product sale, including value-added services, subscriptions, and apps, which can easily exceed the initial purchase price.”
IoT technology can also help manufacturers to better analyze the performance metrics of their products in real time, helping to make adjustments for consumers, thus maximizing the efficient use of these products. This data can also be used to guide future manufacturing practices that optimize production.
With sensors collecting data from every step in your process, connecting the IoT to your systems can deliver all kinds of valuable information that can help detect potential issues and guide improvements.
Fluid dispense control systems serve as a pretty good example of how IoT technology can help to improve processes. There are many variables that can affect the quality in print, coating, sealer, or adhesive application—changes in temperature and viscosity are chief among the causes.
Temperature and viscosity of fluids can be difficult to control throughout the entire manufacturing process, however. If the ink or compound is at the optimal temperature and viscosity at the beginning of the process, there are a number of factors that can alter these substances before they reach the point of application. Sensors and IoT connectivity can help alert operators to where issues originate in their process and prevent these problems from becoming commonplace.
By collecting data from equipment and critical points throughout an application, manufacturers can pinpoint areas of improvement and maintain optimum performance in order to deliver quality products in the most efficient manners.
Reduce costs and risks
With the increased data and insight that added connectivity can bring to manufacturing applications, businesses can transition away from unnecessary practices and better allocate resources and materials.
In printing and coating processes, IoT technology can help operators to reduce the amount of money they spend on materials like solvents and amines that help maintain viscosity and solubility. Sensors and adequate monitoring can alert manufacturers to changes in temperature that could affect the amount of additives needed to keep inks and coating materials at optimal specifications.
The interconnectivity, close monitoring, and streamlined operations that the Internet of Things offers manufacturers can help manufacturers to better plan and allocate the use of labor and materials while increasing the efficiency of their processes.
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