Profit-making idea: Manufacturers can reduce costs with industrial IoT

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Manufacturing companies in Africa can reduce labour and maintenance costs by embracing industrial internet-of-things (IIoT) solutions. IoT refers to the connecting of any device with an on and off switch to the internet and/or to each other.

According Jinesh Varia, an IIoT specialist at Hitachi Vantara, it is not only highly sophisticated manufacturing operations that can benefit from this technology. With the help of a few sensors, even old machines can be brought into the internet age.

One of the most basic things a manufacturer can do is to put a vibration sensor on a machine to know when it was on and when it was off. This will provide “a lot of info about your own equipment and overall equipment efficiency”, Varia told How we made it in Africa on the sidelines of the Hitachi NEXT conference, held in Las Vegas.

In addition to reducing the number of people needed to operate machines, IIoT solutions can also lower maintenance costs. Varia explained many factories still follow calendar-based maintenance plans, which entails servicing a machine after a set period of time, regardless of whether it needs the servicing or not.

The alternative is condition-based monitoring. Using the example of personal car maintenance, Varia said most people change the oil filter after a certain number of kilometres. However, by placing pressure sensors on the filter, it is easy to detect whether the unit has gone bad, and only change it when necessary. Although oil filters used in cars are not expensive, with large industrial machines, these savings can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.