Michael Dyson looks at the growth of technology within manufacturing, and why it is crucial that businesses ensure they manage and secure their IoT connected technology.
With the rise in IoT endpoints, it is more important than ever that Australian manufacturers ensure that each of their investments in technology – including robots, sensors and automation devices – are properly connected and managed to protect against any disruption or security threats from unauthorised parties.
Growth of technology in manufacturing
The manufacturing industry has seen several technological advancements over recent years, with technologies such as robotics, sensors and automation all now playing a big part in many manufacturing operations.
The Australian manufacturing industry is seeing key opportunities and advantages arising from increasing investment in digital technologies, but also from the integration of these new technologies into an increasing range of manufacturing processes and supply chains.
According to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Readiness for the Future of Productions Report, Australia is a high potential country for advanced manufacturing. Although Australia currently has a less advanced structure of industrial production compared with other high-income countries, the WEF report notes that Australia is in a strong position to embrace the new digital production paradigm.
This is because Australia has the right resources and potentially the right combination of other capabilities, such as workforce skills, to capitalise on advanced manufacturing. Australia is also ranked within the top 15 countries for technology and innovation.
In recognition of this, the Queensland Government has recently become the first in the country to invest in advanced manufacturing alongside the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), with almost $18 million invested over four years to establish the nation’s first robotics manufacturing hub.
The Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Hub will help to create and support more jobs. This came after a report, entitled “The robotics and automation advantage for Queensland”, commissioned by QUT, found the most likely economic benefits from the adoption of robotics and automation in Queensland over the next 10 years included 1.5% added growth, a $77.2 billion boost to gross state product and 725,810 new jobs created.
IoT providing an edge in manufacturing
With constant technological developments hitting the industry, it reinforces that manufacturers need to keep up with the latest technology if they want to remain competitive. The implementation of advanced technologies can provide numerous benefits for the manufacturing sector, including increased productivity, reduction of operation costs and improved worker safety.
The integration of technology endpoints into IoT enables manufacturers to autonomously manage their manufacturing and distribution operations. The IoT also allows manufacturers, and their customers, to access critical, real-time data that can be used to improve productivity and system performance and give customers information on the status of their product delivery.
After years of focusing on cost-cutting, manufacturing organisations are looking for new ways to differentiate themselves and fend off disruptive new entrants. For many, the ability to gather data and turn it into insight is an important factor in building and sustaining competitive advantage.
The advent of the IoT enables new elements of manufacturing and supply chain solutions that improve automation, decision-making and optimisation based on real-time analytics.
Mobile devices play a crucial role
Robots, sensors and other automated devices used within manufacturing are now often managed with mobile devices. Operators can still oversee operations, ensure efficiency and productivity, with the devices also connected to the IoT to gather data.
Mobile devices provide operators with a more efficient way of connecting and managing IoT endpoints on the warehouse floor, rather than having to manually check each one separately.
Embracing mobility in manufacturing and supply chain operations has the potential to go beyond just connecting IoT endpoints, to enhance essentially all processes across the supply chain. Manufacturers can leverage mobility to deliver better collaboration and workflow, as well as achieve productivity gains, improved quality, and most importantly, lowered costs in their production processes.
Mobile solutions can also help manufacturers to address critical regulatory and compliance requirements, and worker safety concerns.
With the rapidly emerging use of wireless networks, mobility brings information to where it’s needed with the efficiency and reliability essential to manufacturing operations, where downtime or even seemingly minor interruptions to operations can have a negative impact on overall business success.
However, the key to the success of IoT in manufacturing is ensuring they have business-critical mobility solutions in place that provide them with an integrated platform approach, such as the SOTI ONE Platform, which provides a diagnostic help desk to help dramatically reduce downtime for organisations that leverage mobile technology and helps businesses remove functional silos, build apps faster, manage mobile and IoT devices and deliver actionable insights.
This connects and manages all endpoints seamlessly – from purpose-built devices for inventory management to apps that automate paper-based processes, to business intelligence and real-time analytics. An integrated approach ensures secure, smooth and uninterrupted operations for manufacturers so they can be confident they are making the most of IoT, getting the best return on investment on all endpoints, as well as seeing a competitive gain for the business.
IoT is growing rapidly, and with constant advances in the technologies used in manufacturing, businesses need to ensure each endpoint is connected, managed and secured, to ensure they maximise all the benefits and stay ahead of the competition.
Michael Dyson is Managing Director of Australia and New Zealand at SOTI.