When most people think about the Internet of Things (IoT), it likely conjures ideas of activity-monitoring wearables like Fitbit or home devices for home security (iSmart), lighting (Hue), and coffee makers (Nespresso Prodigio). It’s a mixed opinion on the success of consumer IoT devices, but IoT is making its biggest impact in the industrial realm, where it’s used to reconcile problems that have plagued workplaces for centuries. Industry can use sensor technology to increase efficiency, improve supply chains, reduce waste and increase safety and speed. Last week, I attended the Connected World event from Bosch and bring a selection of companies and activities in what I will term, “The Internet of Industrial Things” (IoIT).
Machine failure is a costly occurrence, resulting in delays and idle staff. 3DSignals is an Israeli startup responding to these challenges through a combination of IoT and machine learning. Machine maintenance is traditionally a laborious process that requires sending a physical person around each factory/plant/workplace to inspect individual machines, typically on a set schedule to identify anomalies, and respond accordingly. By comparison, 3dSignals uses acoustic monitoring and deep learning technology to monitor sensory data from production line machinery, identify anomalies, classify patterns of equipment failure and predict issues before they interrupt production.
Their system can extend to a range of machines based on the knowledge of how similar machines should sound and learn the specific sound acoustics of specific machines. This contributes to increased efficiency in maintenance and the ability to predict problems so that an engineer can respond as needed instead of within a pre-existing preventive maintenance time frame.
IoT technology is disrupting freight forwarding and the cargo supply chain, sectors of the logistics industry where global supply chains are often clouded by lack of visibility, confusing paperwork, complicated regulations, rampant price discrimination, and unpredictable delays. Flexport uses sensors to track the status of cargo and space available in transport vehicles. They replace the traditional means of managing a company’s global freight shipments with a simple online app that allows the customer to request and book shipments, track global freight movements, manage product data, visual their supply chain, view analytics and more – all in real-time.
At present, there are no reliable means of documenting the location for tools in a production facility at any given moment. Likewise, there is no dependable way to monitor a tool’s status or condition or determine when it needs replacement or maintenance. Bosch has developed a solution to equip tools with sensors and then use a sensor cloud to collect and evaluate relevant data. This helps manufacturers achieve transparency on the performance, condition, and location of tools in use and to optimize maintenance as well as monitor cycle times and production output.
Connect All the Things
This was a small selection of IoT applications in industrial areas, and if you have any interest in seeing the full potential of sensor-based technologies, then I suggest you cast an occasional eye in the direction of Cate Lawrence’s writing on ReadWrite, where she regularly covers the industrial applications of IoT.