For the manufacturing industry, 2022 was a year of contrasts: recovery and relief in the face of continuing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain issues, workforce shortages, etc. In the face of difficulty, however, manufacturers continued to rise to the opportunity to innovate and help. They found ways to maintain and increase capacity; work safely; and fulfill the needs not only of critical areas such as medical devices, but also in manufacturing the everyday products that continued to provide a resemblance of normalcy.
In many ways, the ability to meet these challenges was driven by technology, with capabilities such as automation and remote monitoring and operation leading the way and enabling manufacturers to ramp up operations and keep workers safe and healthy. Technological advances will continue to power IIoT trends in 2023, with areas including safety, reliability and flexibility set to be key concerns throughout this year and beyond.
Read on for a look at some of the top trends in Industrial Internet of Things anticipated for the coming months.
Potential industrial IoT trends for 2023
1. Condition monitoring predictive maintenance
Sensors are behind so many of the advances of Industry 4.0, and they are a key driver in this area. One of the primary benefits of condition monitoring sensors is that the data and insights that they provide can be accessed from anywhere, at any time. This enables remote monitoring and decision-making based on real-time data, no matter where personnel is located. As technology continues to evolve, condition monitoring and analytic solutions such as Reliability 360® will be the key to eliminating unplanned downtime.
2. Sensor advances and innovations
With the vast strides being made in communications technology, including the long-awaited widespread availability of 5G networking, facilities will be able to install more sensors to collect more data and have even more information upon which to act. One of the most exciting innovations in sensor technology and usage is the ability to gain more context about data points through multiple sensors, painting a fuller picture of operations and allowing for greater insight into unexpected events — and the ability to prevent them.
3. Data-driven predictive technologies
Unexpected downtime is, as always, one of the biggest wastes of resources for a manufacturer, cutting into the bottom line, threatening deadlines, and adversely affecting equipment life span and output quality. With remote monitoring developments that bring monitoring closer to real-time than ever before, predictive technology is poised to make a major breakthrough in 2023. Predictive maintenance is the primary manifestation of these advances, enabling manufacturers to identify potential problems early, schedule downtime when convenient, ensure that parts and personnel are prepared, and keep operations running as planned.
4. 5G & edge computing
Industrial edge computing means that not only do robots, motors and other machines communicate with the central server, but they also have data processing capabilities of their own. By sending information such as operating conditions or cycle times back to the main server, this equipment on the outermost edge of the network can provide valuable insights that can be used to improve performance. This is expected to become an even greater element of IIoT as 5G networks reduce the restrictions on speed and bandwidth that affected these connections in years past. Click here to learn more about how 5G is changing IIoT.
5. Fog computing
Cloud computing is critical for enabling the connections that make the IIoT possible. However, there are limitations in terms of transmission and propagation caused by the distance between cloud servers and IIoT networks. However, fog computing offers a solution. This technology relocates intelligence to the edge of the network, where the machinery exists. This enables real-time control as well as enhanced security and greater manageability. It’s easy to see how fog computing in IIoT should become standard practice throughout the industry.
6. Digital twins
Remote access is a common thread through 2023 IIoT trends, for convenience and productivity as much as for health and safety (which we will discuss in greater depth below). One of the biggest advances in remote manufacturing operations is digital twin technology, which is a digital representation of a physical component or machine in a factory. Through sensors and connectivity, the digital twin is constantly updated to reflect the actual condition, status and performance of the physical piece. IIoT manufacturing technology such as AI enables simulations that can aid in planning and forecasting — all without the need to be on the factory floor, or even on-site.
7. Health and safety
Worker health and safety took on a new meaning during the pandemic, with the need to keep employees distanced whenever possible, and the ongoing concern over the health of those working in the same area. The principles underlying monitoring technologies used for machines can also apply in this area, with the ability to monitor employee locations on the facility floor, track close contacts, and even quickly and easily take and record employee temperatures. Innovative ways of using IoT manufacturing technology to keep workers healthy provide benefits for employees as well as the facility.
8. Flexibility and agility
Supply chain disruptions were one of the main outcomes of the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak, creating additional pressure on manufacturers scrambling to keep their operations up and running. The data analysis and communication enabled by IIoT advances provide unprecedented flexibility in areas such as supply chain, enabling manufacturers to be agile in supplier selection, ordering and procurement strategy, and inventory management. The lessons of the past few years will likely mean that these areas remain of great importance in 2023.
With the expansion of more wireless devices throughout manufacturing facilities, the number of potential threats increases. Hackers have more vectors for attack than ever, and it’s up to manufacturers to take their cybersecurity seriously or risk catastrophic consequences. Fortunately, there are numerous strategies today for addressing cyber threats that can have a significant difference when it comes to protecting your systems. There is no doubt this will continue to be of the utmost concern for most operations in 2023.
10. The smart factory
With IIoT technology increasingly being incorporated and adopted, 5G communications are becoming more commonplace. With the above trends taking hold, the era of the smart factory is truly upon us. 2023 may be the year in which the smart factory becomes more of a norm.
These trends reflect the ongoing rise of sensor technology and condition monitoring, while taking into account the newfound need for remote monitoring and access, as well as a new facet of worker health and safety concerns. As a leader in industrial maintenance for over three decades, ATS is ready to help you navigate the 2023 landscape, so you are equipped to take advantage of these IIoT trends now and in the future.
From industrial technologies to industrial maintenance and parts, we have the breadth and depth to be your one technology source for improved uptime and productivity. Contact ATS for more information.