5 Reasons Industrial Remote Monitoring Will Soar in 2021
In 2020, remote operations and management emerged as a business-critical activity across industry 4.0. While the digitization of operations is already recognized as a key driver to competitive differentiation, COVID-19 concerns have increased the pressure for new levels of efficiency, productivity and safety from a distance. Companies must innovate in order to stay resilient during these challenging times which makes process improvements, improved supply chain management, and investments in information technology and automation critical. Thanks to the advancements in IoT sensor technologies and wireless connectivity, industrial organizations can make a seamless transition to remote monitoring that ensures business continuity and peak performance 24/7. With access to rich real-time and historical data of processes, assets and plant personnel, organizations can better manage production, maintenance and improve safety across multiple sites.
Here are the 5 reasons remote monitoring will soar in 2021
1. Ensure Employee Health and Safety
The pandemic has urged most organizations to transition to a remote workforce, where possible. While many jobs across industry 4.0 still require onsite presence, environmental monitoring, asset management and predictive maintenance solutions allow more of the workforce to work remotely, while maintaining the integrity of the business. Sensor data collected from assets, machinery and facilities can be used to manage equipment performance and utilization, quality assurance, inventory levels and plant operations, 24/7 from anywhere. When a failure is imminent, the monitoring system can communicate directly with service teams, ensuring an expedient repair or service process and eliminating the need for employee intervention entirely.
On the other hand, IoT applications such as remote condition monitoring, provide real-time insights into the performance parameters of machinery and can prevent impending failures or hazards that could potentially threaten the safety of onsite employees. Likewise, applications such as occupancy and presence detection can ensure safe distancing practices are met onsite and janitorial services are deployed when necessary.
2. Reduce Operating Costs
One of the biggest factors driving remote monitoring is reduced operational expenses, especially with the increasing pressure to stay afloat during the pandemic. It is estimated that industrial manufacturers incur a $50 billion cost every year due to unplanned downtime, and maintenance expenses make up 15% to 40% of total production costs. Remote condition-monitoring predicts and prevents serious equipment failures ahead of time to maximize equipment uptime while reducing maintenance costs. Moreover, remote monitoring and automatic reordering of raw materials helps prevent costly production halts caused by low supply levels. It also helps avoid excess inventory which can cause freight-in, storage and insurance costs. Labor costs are also reduced as remote operations facilitates more effective multi-site monitoring which requires fewer personnel overall.
3. Maximize Uptime
Any time equipment is not operating during business hours, production suffers, and significant costs are incurred. Remote monitoring plays a central role in predictive maintenance practices to avoid unplanned downtime and equipment failures. IoT sensors are used to track and analyze the status, performance and stresses of critical assets like motors, pumps, and conveyers. For example, monitoring equipment vibration reveals important insights that can indicate looming failures. An unwanted increase in vibration intensity produces detrimental forces to the components which jeopardize equipment lifetime and quality. Without timely intervention, asset failures and process shutdowns are inevitable. Remote monitoring alerts personnel of potential issues in real-time so they can immediately troubleshoot issues, modify an operating parameter or provide on-site workers with instructions as to how best fix a problem or improve performance. Even when issues cannot be prevented, remote monitoring can help rapidly resolve issues that do occur, accelerating mean time to repair and first-time fix rates to ensure maximum uptime.
4. Quality Control and Assurance
Beyond reactive, end-of-run quality inspection, remote monitoring enables a proactive quality control approach to diagnose and prevent defects much earlier in the process for peak production rates and repeatability alongside reduced costs and waste. Equipment-related issues and ambient conditions can significantly impact the quality of raw materials and end products, both during production and in storage. For instance, inadequate air pressure can cause dust infiltration which can significantly impact product quality and even damage machinery and production equipment. Similarly, temperature fluctuations in processing and storage facilities can impact quality assurance and safety, especially in the food and beverage industry. Remote monitoring provides a wide range of critical machine, process and environmental data in real-time so managers can quickly identify problems and root causes for quick and remedial action such as adjustments to equipment or the HVAC system.
5. Replicate Success
For larger manufacturers with multiple plant locations, remote monitoring offers a consolidated model of performance trends across all sites. From a central location, data can be compared to identify and replicate the successes of the highest performing plants. Detailed historical information can also be compared across facilities and analyzed to identify potential problems early and enable managers to implement changes to improve efficiency, cost-effectiveness and safety.
With the future of industrial operations uncertain, organizations must remain flexible and adaptable. Investing in IoT sensor technologies and scalable wireless IoT connectivity is essential to respond to changing customer needs, better manage production changes and drive operational excellence in any condition.