The factory floor is about to look quite a bit different than the old-fashioned assembly line. It will be populated by networked tools and equipment that automatically send information to business intelligence systems that monitor system health and enable predictive maintenance. Factory workers will sport wearable technologies such as smart glasses and smart helmets that will help them perform complex jobs. And robots, or more specifically Cobots (robots that are mobile and can collaborate with humans) will be zipping around the factory helping workers complete assigned tasks.
This is the manufacturing world of the future according to Intel’s Anthony (Tony) Neal-Graves, Vice President of the Internet of Things Group and General Manager of the Industrial and Energy Solutions Division. He shared his thoughts recently with Manufacturing Tomorrow on how the industrial landscape is evolving this year and beyond.
Photo credit: Intel IoT, from Twitter @Inteliot
A few key trends he sees in factory IoT include:
- Connectivity to new and existing sensors on the factory floor will offer manufacturers better visibility into operations.
- Manufacturers will move toward the initial adoption of new technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR) in the production environment.
- The industrial ecosystem will see the expanding adoption of additive manufacturing, or 3D printing.
- Deployment of IoT technologies will drive increased supply chain visibility, starting with high-value inventory.
A Shifting Smart Market
Graves notes that the move to IoT will have positive ripples in the global industrial market, as most geographies including Germany, China and the United States have government-backed initiatives to drive manufacturing technologies. The low labor cost geographies are the ones that will potentially see the biggest negative impact, as IoT increases the ROI of automation.
Intel lists the areas that will flourish the most with industrial IoT solution adoption in 2017. At the top of the list is asset monitoring and tracking, or supply chain logistics. Graves also cites smart grids and digital oil fields as areas to watch, along with smart building technology, noting that the initial IoT focus in smart buildings will be on better energy management.
Integrating Computing into Machinery
The Intel IoT team is focused on making it easier for industrial manufacturers to build smart, connected machinery and equipment. In early January, Intel unveiled its modular, credit-card sized compute platform, the Intel® Compute Card. It has the elements of a full computer, including Intel SoC, memory, storage and wireless connectivity along with I/O options.
The Intel Compute Card is designed to help manufacturers and partners in manufacturing and other industries optimize connectivity for particular solutions—from interactive appliances and machines to smart security cameras and IoT gateways.
To learn more, download the Intel Compute Card fact sheet.
Find out which applications Cobots do best and meet the fleet of collaborative robots used in manufacturing at www.cobotsguide.com.