Mass customization and increasingly dynamic consumer demand are revolutionizing manufacturing across industries, from automotive to packaging and everything in between. To remain competitive, manufacturers need to be able to increase machine throughput, conduct rapid changeovers, minimize costs and reduce time to market. Achieving all of these is possible only through adaptive manufacturing – in which processes are measured and adapted in real-time. This requires machines that are automated, digitized, agile, and connected. But connecting dynamic machines operating in a harsh industrial environment requires a highly reliable and agile connectivity solution. IO-Link Wireless meets all those requirements, and more.
The good news is that in addition to delivering significant efficiency advantages, adaptive manufacturing based on IO-Link Wireless also supports sustainability – which is quickly becoming part of the value proposition of the manufacturing process. Because sustainability and environmental criteria have become a key factor for both regulators and consumers, transitioning to adaptive machines enables factories to rate higher in green standards without cutting into their profit margins.
Sustainability benefits of adaptive manufacturing
Adaptive manufacturing with wireless connectivity supports sustainability in three key areas:
1. Enabling the use of sustainable materials
Many production facilities are hesitant to transition to more sustainable materials due to the complexity and cost of the changeover. Automation and digitization, key elements of adaptive manufacturing, make changeovers much easier and create the flexibility needed to handle different product types and configurations—including more sustainable materials—on the production line. This encourages manufacturers to try green materials that they may have been hesitant to try in the past.
2. Reducing the factory footprint
Adaptive, digitized machinery can be used for multiple tasks. When a single flexible machine can do the work previously performed by several machines, the factory needs fewer components, fewer machines, less space, and uses less energy, significantly reducing the factory footprint.
3. Minimizing waste
Manufacturing processes have become so complex that it isn’t possible for human operators to analyze all the options and make the optimal decisions to reduce waste. Smart, connected machines can use real-time data to optimize material use, improving manufacturing sustainability. They also make it possible to produce small batches that reduce inventory and eliminate wasteful overproduction that is detrimental to the environment.
The right connectivity is key
As mentioned above, connectivity is the key to achieving adaptive manufacturing and thereby improving sustainability, but it isn’t always easy to accomplish in harsh manufacturing environments. While wired connectivity solutions are reliable and have low latency, they aren’t suited for fast-rotating parts and dynamic machines like robots and AGVs. On the other hand, standard wireless protocols like Wi-Fi, Zigbee, and Bluetooth can’t meet strict industrial requirements and aren’t reliable or fast enough to use for machine control.
Industrial-standard IO-Link Wireless is opening new opportunities by enabling industrial-grade reliability and latency in a wireless solution suitable for moving parts. By providing control-grade connectivity in industrial environments, IO-Link Wireless is helping manufacturers become more adaptive, and with that is making manufacturing more environmentally friendly.
Roy is a marketing savvy, with over a decade of technology marketing experience in various fields such as wireless communication, robotics, and more. His experience is a combination of both worldwide corporations as well as boutique companies and is currently heading CoreTigo’s Marketing Communications and Digital Marketing. Roy holds a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing, as well as 3 Master’s degrees – including Business Administration and Design Thinking, Entrepreneurship & Innovation.