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Creating Smart Manufacturing Factories with Azure IoT

The global market has evolved exponentially in the last few years. The defining factor of survival across industries has not only been adaptability but agility in how a business responds to change in order to cultivate growth, no matter the circumstances. In other words, we need to not only be able to respond to change by considering all the possible options but have the confidence to take swift actions to realize the full potential of implementing new systems. Technology is constantly moving and responding to demand and thus, the way we work is always changing; businesses can’t just stand still either. The good news is, change has become easier to scale. As costs rise with inflation and supply chain issues persist, skills gaps and challenges related to COVID-19 only continue to burden the manufacturing industry. Therefore, manufacturers must look toward intelligent cloud and intelligent edge solutions to build smart, agile factories. 

In this post, we’ll explore how it has become easier than ever to prioritize the advancement of business and operations for manufacturing while cutting costs and saving energy. Internet of Things (IoT) technology—along with the combination of edge computing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning—assists manufacturers in improving performance and agility to anticipate market shifts through actionable intelligence and real-time transparency. 

In fact, according to the 2021 IoT Signals Report, 90% of manufacturers have already adopted IoT and consider it critical to their success, and 66% plan to expand their use of IoT in the next two years and,

“Those who use IoT for cloud security, supply chain management, and sustainability more strongly believe that IoT is critical to their organization’s success.”

In the last few years, Microsoft has put together an incredible ecosystem of partners that are making custom industrial IoT solutions faster, easier, and more cost-effective to implement. Their innovative solutions continue to streamline IoT adoption and meet very specific industry needs with iot in factories. There is a new webinar series available, and related content with their tailored industry solutions that can help manufacturers build a more resilient future. These solutions put together the integration of cloud and Microsoft stack capabilities that have the potential to increase uptime, drive agility, and optimize overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). 

Azure IoT and Microsoft cloud for Manufacturing Graph

What is Operational Equipment Efficiency (OEE)?

Improving OEE is one of the main priorities for most manufacturers. It is integral to the potential growth and agility outcomes of a company that the most efficient methods of capturing real-time insights can be used for better business decisions, cost reduction, and continued optimization. From our industry experience, we’ve learned that it is important to leverage intelligent planning, predictive maintenance, and production visibility and flow across plants, lines, and assets. 

Very few businesses have the budget or infrastructure to just rip things out and replace them with something better. But most businesses can try out a new solution that doesn’t disrupt the current framework. We’re talking about cloud technology that is built for innovative solutions like supply chain visibility or edge services that securely connect factory devices. Cloud solutions built by Microsoft for manufacturing can easily be adopted to address the most pressing needs first and then adapt to circumstances based on capabilities and demand. 

Benefits of Smart IoT Manufacturing Adoption 

The improvement of product quality and production efficiency is an important manufacturing priority that can be achieved through IoT. You can reduce lead times and get products into the hands of customers faster than ever by applying real-time data collection and data analysis generated by users, applications, and infrastructure. Further, you can use Cognitive Services to bring AI within reach and IoT can inform faster design changes to improve customer experience, quality, and output. IoT is also the most cost-effective choice by lowering scrap and rework expenses while minimizing redundancies, time, and resources to improve productivity and energy efficiency.

Additionally, IoT can enhance resilience and profitability by making the supply chain better with a more qualified supply chain planning and intelligent execution. The use of sensors, networks, and ambient intelligence help the adoption of IoT to create autonomous supply chains that get products to market faster.

A visualization of future smart manufacturing with IoT in factories

Manufacturing Uptime & Availability with Predictive Insights

A smooth production line is also a critical priority for manufacturers. IoT will enable the acquisition of real-time insights to reduce unplanned downtime, improve and monitor worker safety, and increase output. IoT can also help with monitoring asset health through AI and machine learning. You can predict, diagnose, and resolve issues before any disruptions can occur. Even better, when combined with Mixed Reality, IoT can also be used to empower technicians with the information and tools to improve performance along with first-time fix rates.

These are just some of the cloud solutions that will enable manufacturers to anticipate and tackle equipment maintenance or replacement needs to avoid costly failures so production can keep running at maximum capacity.

Change is Never Easy

The manufacturing industry has seen massive shifts in recent years and the most significant characteristics of company survival and growth have been adaptability and agility. We have seen manufacturers rise to unprecedented challenges by adapting new business processes and creating flexible models in how they work to accelerate the use of digital technology. Business continuity, operational visibility, remote work, employee safety, and the list goes on, we are all continually adapting as we all embrace the recovery process.

The bottom line is that smart manufacturing software solutions with IoT can only improve operations with maximized results while reducing the energy footprint as your business aims to achieve a more resilient and sustainable future. To learn more about how Azure IoT and Microsoft cloud services can invigorate your business, you can reach out to your friends at CSW Solutions any time, day or night! Cloud-based innovation has never been more accessible! It can enable remote selling, always-on services, and retain the most consistent and reliable monitoring of trust, compliance, and privacy for your business. 

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