BUUMBA CHIMBULU writes
COVID-19 has reinforced the need for the manufacturing sector to adopt smart technologies, such as Internet of Things (IoTs) in their production processes.
This can be used for industrial automation systems.
The efficiency with which IoTs can be used to improve the production process and other tasks can significantly reduce production costs and increase incomes, says Zambia Association of Manufacturers (ZAM).
ZAM Policy Analyst-Data and Evidence, Kasonde Chituta, said high maintenance costs in the production process could also be avoided through the use of IoTs as predictive repairing and maintenance can be undertaken.
He explained that essential maintenance data could be obtained from the production process including data to determine the state of the machinery, alert and warning sign transmissions and corresponding repair processes could be activated.
He said this meant that production failure could be detected well in advance by the IoTs tools and help to transform equipment maintenance into a fast-paced and automated practice.
Mr Chituta said this in his write-up on Employing IoTs in Manufacturing.
“The supply chain disruptions during the Covid-19 pandemic, caused by border restrictions, show the need of asset tracking of raw materials and finished goods.
“The IoT-based asset tracking system helps producers calculate the usage of manufacturing inputs, whilst initiating measures to shorten idle period and enhance utilisation of the production process,” he said.
Furthermore, Mr Chituta said, IoTs could use an approach called ‘Digital Twins’ to make physical copies of products manufactured by a company.
He explained that Digital Twins allowed a manufacturer to easily experiment and foresee the functionality, as well as initial and final operational capabilities of the product being developed.
“Therefore, in product development, IoTs are efficient, as data is used to refine the product till it is market ready.
“Moreover, IoTs tools can document product updates, predict potential issues and bottlenecks before a product goes on the production line,” Mr Chituta said.