Every day at AirFinder, we see evidence of the massive impact the industrial internet of things (IIoT) is having on enterprises—particularly those in manufacturing, one of two sectors currently experiencing the greatest transformation. Our customers have used our technology to solve sizable business challenges—from improving efficiency and safety to reducing inventory to increasing uptime—and as a result, they’ve been able to generate eye-catching savings. Studies show that 94 percent of businesses that have already implemented IoT solutions have seen a return on their investments; our experience certainly bears that out.
Below are several IIoT examples—mainly manufacturing examples—showing how AirFinder technology is being used with great success. If you’re experiencing a similar challenge in your own business, or you have a different issue you think the IoT can address, get in touch. We’d love to design a low-cost solution tailored to your manufacturing business that will not only help save you money, but also transform your operations for the better.
One of our customers, a parts manufacturer for cars and trucks, was facing a costly inventory problem. Their product is shipped on custom racks, with some racks required for certain product and other racks for other product. (They can’t ship product A, for instance, on a rack built for product B.) So without the right rack, they can’t send out the product; shipments are delayed and customers are unhappy.
They had no visibility into the location of the racks, however, and when a rack didn’t return to the manufacturing facility—because it had been inadvertently stored somewhere or scrapped—they were forced to make more. The company was losing tens of thousands of dollars every year in extra rack production, and holding significantly more inventory than would actually be required if they had a good tracking and return system in place. Yet there was no way to avoid it—shipping product on time is their core business.
They couldn’t find any tracking solutions that were inexpensive enough and also had the capability to track everywhere they needed it to (both inside their facilities and on the road) until they found AirFinder. After doing some initial site surveys, we installed local AirFinder networks to compensate for less-than-ideal cell coverage. We also applied SuperTags to the racks, which could connect to the internet through cellular when on the road, and via Bluetooth when they were inside facilities with AirFinder. Since the company started using our tracking system, they’ve been able to track their racks to their suppliers (and back), ensuring visibility throughout the shipping loop and helping to reduce the wasted spend and rack inventory.
Another customer, this one in the chemical manufacturing industry, was also overspending, constantly replenishing its inventory of expensive tools and equipment whenever things got lost. Maintenance work is done all over the several-hundred-acre facility; staff members would check out and use tools in multiple areas but return them to the wrong places. The company was spending thousands of dollars each year buying additional equipment to ensure they had enough.
To help solve the problem, they installed AirFinder indoors to track 100 different pieces of equipment. The system now provides an 8-hour alert when something isn’t returned to the correct place, and an immediate alert when equipment is moved from one “zone” to another. Since they began using the system a year ago, the company has had greater visibility to its assets and reduced unneeded equipment spending.
Before using AirFinder, a heavy manufacturer was struggling with wasted time spent searching for part racks. Made by the manufacturer itself, the racks (called “chariots”) are customized to transport specific parts to and from its local third-party logistics partner that holds two weeks’ worth of inventory on their behalf; the inventory is shipped over daily based on what’s needed for the day’s production. They have over one thousand chariots that needed to be in the right place at the right time, though they struggled before AirFinder. When chariots were not easily found, staff had to spend frustrating amounts of time searching both the 75,000-square-foot warehouse and the 250,000-square-foot manufacturing facility for the chariots. The delays often impacted their ability to meet their daily production objectives. Using AirFinder’s indoor tracking in both the logistics warehouse and the manufacturing facility, they now have greater visibility into the location of all their racks, which has resulted in fewer production delays and savings in staff time (reducing waste searching for chariots).
Another customer in a research and development facility has a team of technicians and engineers who shared expensive equipment. No one person had a complete set of tools, and every time someone needed something, they spent time (wasted) asking around. Once they implemented AirFinder, there was no longer any need to waste time searching—they could simply locate the closest one and get it directly. They also plan to add additional features to their tracking system, for example, a check in/check out system, so their technicians not only know where the closest devices are, but which ones are available for use.
Some of our customers are using AirFinder to solve for process inefficiencies. As part of their manufacturing processes they move components through discrete work areas, where certain work is performed on each part before it advances to the next stage. All were struggling to meet specific time thresholds for various stages; some noticed that parts were waiting too long to move from one stage to the next. They needed a way to track work in progress, to know how long each process takes and whether that process needed to be evaluated, and to help them hone the processes to reach desired goals. AirFinder gave them the ability to gather the real-time data necessary to make improvements to the system, helping them to reach their production goals.
We’ve had several customers looking for ways to improve safety on the job site or improve the efficiency of their processes—both of which involved worker tracking. Several construction companies and industrial and chemical processing plants have turned to AirFinder for a low-cost, real-time location solution that would provide immediate location data on all workers in the event of an emergency. Construction companies have also used AirFinder tracking to better understand and monitor where and what people are working on, how many people are working in certain areas, and how long certain processes take. The data has helped them improve processes and planning efforts.
What’s your operational challenge? Talk to us to see how AirFinder can help.