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Heavy equipment manufacturing requires companies to produce industrial-grade products to precise specifications and do it all while sticking to the timelines that customers expect. It can be challenging to achieve those necessities, but many leading managers invest in the Internet of Things technology to help.
Heavy equipment IoT solutions make manufacturing operations more manageable by giving manufacturing leaders data they didn’t have before. Here is a closer look at why using the IoT when manufacturing heavy equipment can pay off.
1. Getting Worker-Based Data With Heavy Equipment IoT Technology
Making heavy equipment can be a taxing job. The specifics vary depending on an employee’s specific role. Still, they often must engage in repetitive motion, heavy lifting and other activities that can put too much strain on the body if they do not manage themselves properly.
It’s increasingly common for factory decision-makers to have workers wear IoT devices that capture and compile data, helping show how their jobs may impact their bodies. Researchers published an in-depth study about wearable technology's current and probable future uses for production line workers. Many of their insights shed light on how heavy equipment manufacturing does and could benefit from such applications.
For example, they explored how smart wearables could act as personalized advisors, such as pointing people to the correct page in the company wiki if they need assistance. The researchers also examined how these wearables could support worker training, giving them more or less information depending on their experience and time at the company.
Some of the more familiar and widely used applications relate to using wearables to track how employees move and whether they get overexerted. Some wearables vibrate to give users real-time feedback, encouraging them to correct their posture or use a different stance when lifting something. Others track aspects like heart rate, respiration and body temperature, then alert people when they might need to take a break.
Besides giving individual users information about themselves during their workdays, such wearables also send data to the cloud. Then, heavy equipment manufacturing leaders can get insights into specific teams or roles more prone to injuries and accidents than others. It could also show them which employees are especially safety conscious, creating opportunities for positive feedback.
2. Enabling More Customer-Centric Operations in Heavy Equipment Manufacturing
Today’s leading manufacturers understand the importance of focusing on the customer in everything they do. They continually ask themselves how whatever they produce will make a customer’s work easier and more profitable.
Some heavy equipment casters cause a 70-80% reduction in the starting force needed for push, pull and towing-related tasks. It’s then easier for equipment operators to get the precise manoeuvrability they need without resistance.
Possibilities in heavy equipment IoT tech allow manufacturers to see how customers use their products, especially since many pieces of equipment now have embedded sensors. One leading heavy equipment manufacturer has them on half a million of its machines worldwide. Company leaders use the associated data to improve user experience. They have also relied on it during a shift in how customers get charged for services.
The data from connected machines can shape manufacturers’ choices about when to provide new features, software updates and more. The information may shed light on potentially faulty components, warning about supply-chain shortages or issues that could put users at risk.
Keeping customers at the centre of heavy equipment manufacturing allows brands to stay competitive and continue offering the latest and most effective products for the target audience. They can use that to improve marketing and tailor messaging to potential customers.
3. Reducing Unexpected Downtime and Other Disruptions
Equipment outages and other manufacturing challenges that halt or slow production can be costly for the company leaders experiencing them. These issues can also have domino effects on the customers waiting for heavy equipment.
Imagine if someone places a bulk order for tractors or bulldozers. Perhaps some of the equipment needed to produce them breaks down and becomes unusable for weeks due to back-ordered replacement parts. Then, crop-harvesting plans, construction site timelines or similarly deadline-sensitive activities get thrown off.
Many heavy equipment IoT solutions now allow people to monitor their critical manufacturing machines from anywhere. That capability facilitates a shift to condition-based maintenance rather than performing certain types of upkeep by only reading the owner’s manual recommendations.
Heavy equipment manufacturing can also benefit from sensors used for predictive maintenance. Those components detect things like changes in vibration or temperature that could indicate an imminent breakdown. Statistics show companies using predictive maintenance can save 8-12% over the costs of a reactive maintenance strategy.
The IoT can also minimize downtime once a customer begins using a piece of heavy equipment by offering add-on services. A Bain & Company analysis predicted that 100% of machinery companies will offer or plan to provide predictive maintenance services to their customers by 2024.
One company in the report was Chinese heavy equipment manufacturer XCMG. It had connected more than 460,000 of its machines to a data analysis platform by the end of 2021. Representatives there believed that large-scale sensor usage would help customers make better decisions and understand equipment utilization more.
Heavy Equipment IoT Sensors Are Worth Consideration
These examples show how heavy equipment manufacturing can benefit from IoT sensors in numerous ways. Some factory leaders might choose to have employees use connected wearables or decide critical manufacturing equipment needs IoT sensors to achieve higher uptime rates. Offering IoT connectivity for heavy equipment after customers begin using it is a major selling point, too.
However, before manufacturing decision-makers move forward with a heavy equipment IoT solution, they should consider their specific goals and select associated metrics to track. Those activities help show how well the setup works and whether it needs any optimization-related tweaks. Finding out from customers which features they would deem most useful can enable the most valuable offerings possible, allowing companies to stay competitive in a challenging marketplace.