The Future Impact of the Internet of Things on Manufacturing

Robert Brice
Fri, Jan 9, 2015

Manufacturing in the U.S. is continuing to grow, The Wall Street Journal reported. It may not be as large as it once was, but part of the reason for this is that the industry has become enormously streamlined through the use of tools such as robotics. More was manufactured in the U.S. in 2014 than in 2013, but the number of people working in the industry is still relatively small compared to numbers from decades past. The reason is that today's jobs are very technical and require experience.

As manufacturing grows, the technology around it is expanding as well. Companies will soon have to expect advancements that will change the way products are manufactured. The evolution of manufacturing isn't a new concept, though. The tools have simply grown more sophisticated and more reliant on the Internet of Things, as well as communication via a central computer.

The Latest Advances in IoT and Human Communications
According to Profit Magazine, human beings are wired for communication and interaction. Recent advances in technology have allowed people to communicate with each other in more advanced ways, and following along with this, communications between machines and humans have also evolved. For example, a factory that collects data through barcode software can tell employees when a part of the operations have slowed down. This is what smart factories are. The computer keeps track of everything. The data being captured can range from information as detailed as how well the machines are using their electricity to as simple as how many times a machine breaks down in a year. Such a tool offers tremendous advantages over less specific approaches to reducing factory variances.

The bottom line is that the Internet of Things allows people and organizations to allocate resources more efficiently, both inside and outside of the manufacturing sector, according to a separate Profit article that interviewed technology expert Sunil Maulik.

"IoT will act as a load-balancer, effectively enabling us to leverage resources in a more sustainable manner," Maulik said. "Cities will be able to do more with less, energy consumption should stabilize, and the full benefits of the collaborative, sharing economy will emerge as communities band together to more effectively share the resources at their disposal. Companies like Uber, SolarCity and Airbnb are leading the way in this direction."

Connecting the Factory with the Supply Chain
An additional benefit of these new advances is that companies involved with third-party logistics management are becoming more advanced. According to DC Velocity, they have begun offering more services than in the past. They not only transport goods as carriers, but they work closely with factories to create bundled services customized to fit the needs of a company, shipping finished goods out of the factory and raw materials into it. This acts as a kind of supply chain concierge, with warehousing inventory management and freight forwarding services.

How Companies Can Benefit
The best way for a business to take advantage of all these advances in business and technology is to refine its manufacturing processes to go along with these enhanced services. For example, a company could hire a third-party business to create a data capture system using radio frequency ID, allowing for a fast and simple way to collect the kind of information that 3PLs and other companies need to provide these upgraded service bundles. Additionally, smart factories and smart technology depend on the transparency that data capture provides.

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