The ways that factories can benefit from IoT are numerous. One of the biggest facets of IoT that will benefit factories is asset tracking. From tracking tools and parts, to tracking people, there are a myriad of ways for factories to take advantage of asset tracking. Asset tracking will improve efficiency, output, and safety in addition to greatly improving processes around asset and inventory management.
The first set of use cases for asset tracking in factories centers around tracking tools. On the surface, it is easy to tell how tracking tools and enabling employees to know where they are will cut down on idle time spent searching. The real benefit is knowing how often tools are being used and where. From this, managers will be able to predict when tools will fail and need to be replaced, or when maintenance will need to be performed, eliminating down time. In addition to this, optimal placement for tools, and the exact number of devices that are needed can be determined.
The next set of use cases for asset tracking is tracking parts. For parts with a shelf life, ensuring that they are routinely rotated and used can directly cut down on waste. In addition to this, tracking parts from receiving can eliminate “Ghost Assets". Ghost assets are parts that are received and forgotten about in the factory. As always, the insights provided by data are extremely valuable. By tracking parts and knowing how fast they are being used, purchasing becomes extremely accurate preventing both excess and shortages.
Tracking parts comes with many financial insights as well. Though tracking what parts come in and how fast they get processed and shipped out, accurate income projections can be produced. In addition to this, if done well, tracking parts can be extremely effective for both auditing and fraud detection. With a lot of physical parts moving, they can be in various locations or even moving through the assembly line. Both of these can be very time consuming and manual processes. The ability to automate these tasks through an asset tracking solution would be an advantage for any medium to large scale factory.
The third set of use cases comes from tracking employees. These use cases do not provide as much direct ROI as the use cases from tracking parts or tools, but they can still be critical.
Directly tracking employees in dangerous factories, enabling fast emergency support, and ensuring that people are only in areas that they have access to are only a few of the use cases. There is a small amount of insight to be gained from this, such as tracking employees movement to see if some parts are stored too far off of the assembly line. Additionally, if employees are in potentially dangerous situations, tracking their movements can prevent workplace injury or harm.
Although tracking employees can be very beneficial, it also has the potential to be abused. Being able to audit every position an employee has been in throughout the day, everyday could potentially turn employees into robots or cogs. There are many stories about factory workers in authoritarian settings where they are limited in when they can use the bathroom. It's important to keep in mind both the benefits and drawbacks of certain types of asset tracking, especially if you're dealing with tracking humans.
Every type of factory could benefit from becoming smart and implementing an asset tracking solution. Factories are hungry for innovation and asset management needs more for tracking inventory than their current systems.