Technical Content Writer
On the manufacturing floor, even the smallest moving parts can cause intermittent disruption and performance degradation if they break. These unplanned events can not only cause catastrophic financial loss for manufacturers, but the parties they serve. What’s worse, the cause of these disruptions are hard to locate without allocating a significant amount of resources on machine inspections.
However, the Internet of Things (IoT) is giving manufacturers the power to monitor even the smallest moving aspects of their production. Small, inexpensive computing hardware (like IoT prototyping kits and development boards) can monitor and transmit data instantly on the state of any machine wirelessly. For companies looking to improve efficiencies, reduce costs, or fully-optimize their production, IoT is a surefire way to go.
How manufacturers can implement embedded hardware into their operations isn’t always clear though. For this article, we’re going to clear that up by explaining how Service Thread, an American manufacturer of commercial thread and yarn, used IoT hardware to monitor and maintain 3,000 spindles across 115,000ft of floor space.
Service Thread’s main goal was to gain better insights on the effectiveness of their spindle machines. In the past, they relied on in-person inspections. However, there are a couple of issues they had with this system:
While Service Thread’s machines already had some capabilities to monitor and track spindle performance with onboard computers, they could not record the status of each individual spindle in a centralized location. They wanted an IoT device that could track all this data easily.
For this IoT device, they had some goals they set out to accomplish:
Dan Thyer, the CEO of Logical Advantage, and his team used a Photon (a Wi-Fi connected microcontroller) so the device could connect to the internet and communicate with other human-centered interfaces. With the Photon, their spindle-monitoring device can communicate the state of the spindles (like if they’re moving or not) to the cloud. The Photon is also capable of sending and receiving OTA firmware updates, which gives them the ability to send code updates to the device even after it’s deployed. This is critical because they can easily update and maintain their devices, all while remaining cost effective.
Ever since Service Thread implemented IoT hardware and cloud services into their daily manufacturing services, they have been reaping the benefits:
With IoT, Service Thread was able to improve their operations and gain insights on the smallest moving parts of their machines. Current manufacturers must decide if their current systems give them enough insight into their daily operations, or if investing in IoT solutions is a more efficient and effective way of monitoring their daily operations.
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