Measurement Drives Improvement in Smart Factories via the IIoT
Attributed to Peter Drucker, the phrase “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it” is at the heart of business improvement and also fundamental to the IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) philosophy. The driving trends behind the IIoT include more measurement, rapid and thorough data analysis, and faster reaction to process deviations. All of these process improvements will create increased value in global businesses. But, to measure more, we have to be able to sense more - more parameters, more accurately and more often.
Sensors are at the core of the IIoT. Overlaying software algorithms on existing technology can bring minor incremental gains, but for a true step forward we need to bring more parameters into the fold. Every new parameter we sense brings significant opportunity and makes the system smarter.
Existing sensors continue to evolve; we can measure temperature, light, position, level, humidity, pressure and many other parameters better than ever. But, even as they become smaller, cheaper and more embedded, each of these sensors is dedicated and, therefore, limited in functionality and adaptability. Vision-based sensing removes these limitations - once a machine can truly ‘see,’ almost anything is possible.
With vision sensing, programmability brings flexibility, enabling a single vision system to sense missing (or misplaced) components, or detect a subtle color change that indicates a process is drifting out of control. The IIoT will continue to add more basic sensors to measure the fundamentals, but the trend toward vision-based sensing - both still and video - makes smarter systems more flexible and more valuable.
As production lines and factories are reconfigured to move from one product to another, or to build variants of a complex product, vision systems need no manual repositioning or reconfiguration. They only require a simple change from one control program to the next, and the system is ready to run; saving cost, time and manpower as well as eliminating the mistakes that we humans make.
The IIoT brings an exciting future to smart factories, where the true autonomy of factories and manufacturing processes is rapidly approaching. The ability to remotely monitor and control every aspect of a production process offers unparalleled opportunities.
The rapid development and innovation occurring in the IIoT arena is driving clear business benefits in terms of management efficiency, reduced operating costs and more resilient, self-learning, processes. Leading technology companies, such as ON Semiconductor, are at the forefront of creating this future, leveraging their extremely broad capabilities and technologies.