3 Compelling Use Cases for LPWAN in Auto Manufacturing
In 2017, around 73.5 million cars were produced worldwide, which is more than 200,000 units daily. What’s more striking is that global automobile sales surpassed 79 million in the same year and are expected to reach over 81 million in 2018, resulting in a staggering 150% increase from 2014. While this creates lucrative business opportunities, this ever-growing demand also places pressure on automakers. Enhanced operational efficiency, guaranteed product quality and on-time delivery are a necessity to stay ahead of the competition.
As IoT and other digital technologies infuse new DNA into the automotive industry, investment in technology becomes critical in helping automakers secure their competitive edge. Unsurprisingly, a large number of global players have already embarked on their digital transformation leveraging trends like autonomous and connected cars, fleet management, vehicle telematics or driver assistance.
Nevertheless, Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWANs) – one of the key IoT enablers and a potential transformation engine – still remain an entirely new realm for many auto manufacturers. Now, you may be wondering: “What value will this family of technology bring to my business?”
Have heard of Industry 4.0? That’s the answer! While Industry Ethernet protocols may be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of industrial automation, LPWANs – in fact – have established their own position in the smart factory. Geared for low-cost communication of telemetry data from innumerable, battery-operated sensors at the edge, LPWANs are set to empower a new layer of operational transparency and efficiency enabled by advanced cloud analytics.
Below are three compelling use cases of LPWAN in auto manufacturing:
1. Process optimization with environmental monitoring (e.g. temperature, air quality…)
Many automotive production processes are considerably influenced by environmental factors on the shop floor. For example, even a slight presence of dust particles in the atmosphere can cause paint defects, impairing the quality and consistency of a car’s paint job. Likewise, an increase in temperature at filling stations can cause volume expansion of the fluids, resulting in excessive fluid injection.
By transmitting data from numerous environmental sensors on the factory floor, LPWAN can help maintain the optimal ambient conditions for all manufacturing processes.
2. Condition-based monitoring and predictive maintenance
Predictive maintenance is a core pillar of Industry 4.0 and no other communication technologies can beat LPWAN when it comes to cost-efficient connection of massive embedded sensors to the cloud. Constantly monitoring various “health” parameters of machinery and assets allows for early detection of any operational deviations or anomalies. Maintenance can be effectively scheduled as required to avoid asset failure and costly production downtime.
3. Safeguarding worker’s health and safety
Extreme temperature and humidity or high concentrations of volatile organic compounds all impose substantial risks to worker safety. By utilizing LPWAN-enabled sensors and wearables, plant managers can keep track of their employees’ health and working conditions round-the-clock. Corrective measures can be taken upon first sign of dehydration, fatigue or other health-related issues to improve worker wellness and productivity.
Digital transformation in the automotive industry is manifold. While autonomous vehicles and connected cars promise to deliver a transformational customer experience, it is important not to overlook the other intriguing facet of IoT in optimizing manufacturing efficiency and productivity – right at the start of the product lifecyle.
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