5 Examples of Best Ways to Leverage IoT Technology in Manufacturing

The introduction of IoT technology is quickly changing the way organizations operate. More and more companies are turning to IoT with the goal of optimizing production processes and increasing automation regardless of what industries or industry segment they belong to. However, nowhere is this more noticeable than in the manufacturing sector which has been undergoing a true technological revolution.

Across all areas of manufacturing (electronics, automotive, chemical, durable goods, etc.) we have seen heavy investment in IoT technology and the results are quickly becoming tangible. According to a 2015 TATA Consultancy Survey , manufacturers utilizing IoT solutions saw an average revenue increase of 15.6%; and according to Forbes: “manufacturers expect Internet of Things initiatives to drive an average 27.1% revenue increase by 2018”.

In a nutshell, leading manufacturers are using of IoT devices to improve the efficiency and productivity of manufacturing operations. In the past this meant retrofitting existing machinery to enable various sensors, but new equipment now often comes with already integrated IoT capabilities.

BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, estimates the number of installed IoT devices in manufacturing to rise from 237 million in 2015 to 923 million in 2020. By that year, manufacturers will spend approximately $267 billion on IoT.

Here are five examples of manufacturers using IoT to improve their operations:


At a production facility in Amberg, Germany , where Siemens’ manufactures its electronics, about three quarters of the production process is autonomously handled by machines and computers, utilizing some 1,000 sensors and controllers along the entire length of the production process. Using unique product codes, parts on the production line are able to “communicate” production requirements with the machines and inform them on steps that need to be taken next. This degree of optimization of the production process allows for much easier IT control and a significantly lower rate of failure. In a system like this, employee duties are relegated to maintenance and supervision of technology assets and handling unexpected occurrences.

General Electric

At GE, during the production of their Durathon line of batteries the line gets checked by over 10,000 sensors that measure critical things such as temperature, humidity, air pressure and production machinery operating data – all in real time. This allows GE to simultaneously have the ability to monitor production and adjust based on the data gathered as well as opening up a crucial capability to trace battery performance relative to the exact batch of material as well as at any point along the production line.


Looking at the rise of IoT technology in manufacturing HP found way to leverage it in order to expand their value offer and solve an issue that their customers have been dealing with for a long time. Instead of implementing IoT sensors along the production line, HP decided to expand the capabilities of their printers to autonomously monitor ink levels and predict when a given unit will run out. Using the HP Instant Ink service each printer is able to automatically order replenishment cartridges to be delivered just in time.


One of the major goals of Harley-Davidson, while rebuilding a major production plant in York, Pa. was a drastic increase in the visibility of its production process. The company realized that the industry was changing in such a way that the importance shifted away from linear mass production and that customized products, built to customer specifications were surging in popularity. This meant that Harley-Davidson had to reimagine the way their plant floor operates. To achieve this the organization decided to connect all the plant floor machines to a single system that tracks performance of each machine in real time as well as the status of each individual order along the production line in real time. Using mobile devices their workers were given insight into this tracking system, allowing them to effectively plan which steps needed to be taken next to efficiently fill these custom orders.


Being a global organization Cisco identified a need to better coordinate their production efforts throughout the organization’s global network of outsourced production facilities. To this end they developed a secure “virtual” MES (manufacturing execution system) whose goal is to provide “real time visibility of production operations”. By utilizing cloud, big data and IoT technologies Cisco’s manufacturing facilities are able to take advantage of end-to-end component traceability, preventive machine maintenance and higher product quality.

Curious to learn more about how you can apply IoT to your manufacturing processes and operations? Visit our website for more information on Microsoft Azure IoT solutions.

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