For owners of manufacturing businesses, it turns out that using the internet can have serious advantages, especially for those who have machines and other devices that connect to it, also.
However, John Nesi, vice president of market development at Rockwell Automation, states that only 10 percent of industrial operations are using the connected enterprise. Rockwell connects businesses to cyberspace to help improve their manufacturing functions, in addition to “challenging industrial and manufacturing companies to drive inefficiencies out of their systems, manage workforce skills gaps and uncover new business opportunities,” in Nesi’s words.
That connection stems from a theory known as the “Internet of Things,” which posited back in the 1990s that more objects would connect to the internet over time, allowing for more devices around us to connect to the internet beyond the usual laptops and PCs. With the popularity of smartphones, tablets, and a variety of other mobile technology, the concept has become a reality.
However, it extends further than that, and the connection to the internet is now what helps drive manufacturers, too, or at least the 10 percent according to Rockwell’s figure.
One such company is King’s Hawaiian, one of Rockwell’s food and beverage clients, which puts out an additional 180,000 pounds of bread each day thanks to the 11 connected machines installed in a new factory.
The machines are linked to Rockwell’s software program called FactoryTalk, which lets employees have remote access to saved and real time data in order to monitor performance. Nesi explained that the software allows for “faster time to market, improved asset utilization and optimization, lower total cost of ownership, workforce efficiency, enterprise risk management and smarter expenditures.” The internet capabilities allow the machines to be operated and monitored remotely.
General Electric also benefits from this type of technology, specifically at their Durathon battery factory in Schenectady, N.Y. Managers are able to track production status through the assembly line’s 10,000 sensors and share data with other workers.
By allowing companies to automate their production, other advantages arise, but they don’t come without risk. One of the biggest advantages is the elimination or reduction of the number of accidents on job; however, firms also need to be aware of the cyber security risks that these connections could bring.