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Manufacturers embrace RFID and IoT solutions

Internet of Things connectivity is taking center stage in the manufacturing sector. Survey results released by Zebra Technologies reveal that 97 percent of manufacturers consider IoT to be one of the most impactful technological initiatives in their industry.

Eighty-three percent of manufacturers already have IoT implementations in place or will deploy them within 12 months.

Food manufacturers stand to gain by deploying IoT solutions.

Most manufacturers expect IoT to provide operational and actionable data on item location and condition, which will enhance supply chains, mitigate loss and risk, and empower process and cost optimization so they can improve operations and asset utilization as well as enhance customer service.

“Manufacturing operations are running more efficiently than ever before due to the installation of smart machinery and sensors on connected factory floors driving less machine downtime, better asset utilization and faster time to market,” says Jim Hilton, senior director and global manufacturing principal at Zebra Technologies.

“Our survey affirms that Industry 4.0 is well underway but more education and information sharing can be done to increase IoT adoption in the manufacturing space.”

For apparel manufacturers — especially those who make complex items like made-to-order shoes —  it is important that a variety of parts arrive together at the processing plant each morning. If an assembly line is operating slower than usual, it’s crucial that plant operators deploy RFID or barcode scanners to track the movement of parts and products through the plant. Then, they can analyze that IoT data through a centralized dashboard, enabling them to quickly diagnose and fix the problem and any delays in shipping orders.

Food manufacturers who responded to the survey indicated a reliance on IoT-enabling technology to track both the location and condition of products and personnel. RTLS tags, for example, monitor the location, status and temperature of shipments of products that arrive at the warehouse, while also tracking products and containers as they are shipped to customers. Food manufacturers identified the location of tracked objects as the top priority, followed by the location of tracked containers, and the condition of tracked objects.

For those with issues about deploying IoT solutions, 50 percent cited cost concerns as the largest barrier, while 46 percent indicated privacy and security concerns along with integration challenges.

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