KCF Technologies Blog

What is the Internet of Things and how is it being used in manufacturing?

By Jeremy Frank

The Internet of things (IoT) is the idea that one day everything we use on a daily basis will be connected with the internet. Examples we already see include running shoes that post your performance to a webiste and refrigerators that tell you when you need to buy more milk.

In the industrial world, IoT is giving your machines a voice by equipping them with sensors that beam real-time information to the internet – and your cell phone – with information on the machine’s health and performance. Imagine the benefits to uptime, safety and efficiency when your company is able to eliminate nearly all of the unplanned machine failures that erode profits and ruin your weekend!

The real challenge, though, is adjusting the human element of how we interact with these IoT-equipped talking machines.

Many companies find their maintenance and operations staff are quickly overwhelmed with loads of sensor data. Think back to the mid 1990’s when email just came out. How many emails a day were you receiving then vs. how many you receive now? In the same way, “alerts” and “alarms” from all this IoT equipment can grow to an avalanche of overwhelming details.

Yes, data is important, but only to the point that we humans can digest, understand and take appropriate action. To the rescue come the Big Data integration companies, right? IBM, GE, Emerson, SAP… All great companies but engaging them for data integration projects can cost you more than a fleet of German sports cars!

Many of our clients are forgoing the Big Data integration projects for now and instead carefully selecting just two or three IoT technologies for their most critical pieces of equipment. The result? A gentle introduction to IoT that doesn’t break the budget, doesn’t bombard you with tons of senseless data and actually helps you catch a few machine failures that would have otherwise ruined your weekend.

How is your company testing the IoT waters? What advice do you have for others on how to get started with this new wave of IoT innovation?

KCF Technologies is an engineering company founded in 2000 and based in Central Pennsylvania. Its latest breakthrough is a wireless sensor system that notifies you when a machine is going to fail before it actually does. It’s called SmartDiagnostics. Organizations taking advantage of this new technology are seeing significant improvements in safety, uptime and profitability.

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