Long-range, low-power solutions improve remote operations

The future of remote operations in manufacturing opens the opportunity for facilities to improve their operations, leveraging IoT-enabled technologies to improve everything from mobility to worker safety.

By Marc Pégulu May 31, 2022
Courtesy: Semtech

The simplicity and ease of adopting Internet of Things (IoT) applications across the manufacturing industry allow organizations to improve overall efficiency and operations while improving safety for employees.

Technology is driving better results across the manufacturing industry from forklifts to pallet stackers. IoT technology and predictive analysis are used to improve the performance of machines and monitor how often they’re working to increase efficiencies.

This is one example of how IoT is allowing manufacturers to experience quick success; however, to drive long-term success and results, manufacturing plants have set their sights on long-range, low-power enabled IoT sensors to focus on real-time responses and reliable data to monitor assets.

Long-range, low-power sensors support manufacturing environments

With the influx of supply chain challenges, there’s one thing manufacturers across the nation rely on to streamline their operations: automated processes. Under tremendous pressure to meet customer demands in a timely manner, manufacturers require a solution that not only manages their inventory but continuously monitors and analyzes data across different areas to deliver actionable insights.

Below are a few different examples of how long-range, low-power IoT-enabled sensors help optimize functions of manufacturing plants and the assets within it.

Asset tracking for manufacturing operations

Unlike 5G and Wi-Fi, long-range, low-power solutions can monitor assets spread out over large areas such as a warehouse or a manufacturing plant. This is extremely useful when it comes to tracking the whereabouts of products, machinery and inventory in facilities. Asset tracking is even supported over large geographic locations. With this technology in place, retailers can work directly with their manufacturers and logistics partners to mitigate potential delays in the supply chain while managing customer expectations on delivery times and beyond.

Long-range, low-power technology allows end users to collect data from the most remote areas, so facilities can track products from anywhere, whether inside their building or on a ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Operating on the LoRaWAN standard, devices consume less power, enabling battery lives of up to 10 to 15 years. This reduces the need for maintenance and constant replacement of sensors to help facilities keep costs low.

Increased productivity at low costs

Rural environments have often been too challenging or cost prohibitive for cellular or local area network (LAN) technologies. Long-range, low-power sensors bring low energy consumption and low network requirements to create cost-effective infrastructure. Keeping costs low is key to manufacturing plants who rely on productivity to remain in operation. With IoT-enabled sensors, plants can monitor a variety of physical and environmental factors that keep production on track and reduce the number of mistakes and errors, which in turn can save the plant money.

Cisco’s remote asset management is a good example of this. Their Industrial Asset Vision is an IoT sensor solution that leverages long-range, low-power technology. The cloud-based dashboard monitors and manages the condition of assets and facilities, from temperature and humidity to lighting, occupancy and even equipment vibration and movement. This not only enhances visibility into physical spaces but allows facilities and plants to become safer and more efficient.

Internet of Things (IoT) technology and predictive analysis are improving machine performance and helping manufacturers monitor how often they’re working to increase efficiencies. Courtesy: Semtech

Internet of Things (IoT) technology and predictive analysis are improving machine performance and helping manufacturers monitor how often they’re working to increase efficiencies. Courtesy: Semtech

Employee safety

Employee safety is a top priority at every manufacturing plant. Without healthy, able employees, it’s impossible to keep plants running.

Until a few years ago, worker-focused proximity alert solutions were not common in manufacturing plants – or any facilities at all. Today, long-range, low-power sensors are used to detect potentially dangerous interactions between workers and equipment. This could involve anything from the temperature of a product or piece of equipment, which could potentially explode or burn employees, to how long a piece of equipment has been in use. With so many moving parts, IoT-enabled technologies help ensure that there is no room for unsafe interactions between employees and equipment.

The future of remote operations in manufacturing opens the opportunity for facilities to improve their operations, leveraging IoT-enabled technologies to improve the monitoring of inventory, improve productivity and even better the health and safety of employees. Alongside improving efficiency and quality, the use of these sensors will drive connected facilities that use data to assess historical trends for constant and consistent improvement for years to come.


Marc Pégulu
Author Bio: Marc Pégulu is vice president of IoT Strategy and Products at Semtech.