Four benefits of using IIoT in automotive manufacturing

Four benefits of using IIoT in automotive manufacturing

Automotive manufacturers need to be lean, agile, and responsive to a wide variety of consumer demands that seemed impractical decades ago

November 16, 2021

In 2021, automotive manufacturers need to be lean, agile, and responsive to a wide variety of consumer demands that seemed impractical decades ago.

As consumers demand personalized and trackable products, automotive manufacturing is moving toward a batch-of-one model to satisfy the need for mass customization. Manufacturers are also struggling to deliver these vehicles at a lower cost and in a shorter timeframe, all in the middle of a labor shortage that could last the next decade.

To meet these challenging demands, automotive manufacturers can move from just-in-time delivery to just-in-sequence inventory management. Parts arrive on the plant floor at the right place, right time, and in the order they’re meant to be assembled, as opposed to only arriving at or near the time they are assembled. Just-in-sequence ensures different product models can be produced efficiently on the same assembly line, with less handling of parts and greater accuracy.

While just-in-sequence supports greater customization, fewer errors, and faster assembly, it requires a smart manufacturing solution dependent on smart devices and smart humans.

Smart manufacturing with IIoT

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) uses smart devices, such as wireless tags with digital tracking capability, to guide operators on asset location and inventory throughout the production cycle. IIoT enables smart manufacturing by ensuring all operators receive updates in real time, as opposed to traditional paper labeling systems that lack the necessary flexibility for batch-of-one manufacturing.

The Panasonic Logiscend System is an IIoT material flow management solution that combines wireless, e-paper Panasonic VIEW tags with advanced software to help complex manufacturing operations get the right parts, to the right place, at the right time. Its paperless, hands-free process improves just-in-sequence pick and kitting speed, accuracy, and enhances material flow with a wireless IIoT system for parts replenishment.

© Panasonic

IIoT systems help automotive manufacturers improve batch-of-one capabilities by improving overall efficiency and shortening production timelines. One Tier 1 supplier of automotive seating experienced the following after adopting IIoT for their picking and kitting operation:

Improved Pick Accuracy

Using Panasonic’s wireless VIEW tags, which combine RFID with an e-paper display, operators have an easy process to ensure an accurate pick. The worker follows the information on the e-label tag that shows what to pick, quantity to pick, and cart bin location of where to place the items. The Tier 1 supplier experienced a pick accuracy near 99.8%, an improvement allowing for greater customization without sacrificing quality and customer satisfaction.

Significant Labor Reduction

During “The Great Resignation,” organizations are struggling to find and retain talent. In manufacturing, Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute found that as many as 2.1 million jobs will go unfilled through 2030.

With IIoT, the Tier 1 supplier also experienced a 50% decrease in needed labor, due to efficiency gains and shortened picking and kitting timelines, an important improvement during a labor shortage, as manufacturers struggle to do more with less.

In addition, the wireless nature of the tags allows for inexpensive and quick reconfiguration when something needs to change in the supermarket or other picking locations. This saves on budget and labor.

Less Training Time

VIEW tags provide visual instructions to the operator and require little to no training to get started. Since screen instructions can automatically direct operators to the pick quantity and location, new operator deployment is a seamless transition, eliminating dependency on tribal knowledge and making it easier to onboard new employees.

The automotive supplier saw a 90% decrease in training times. For manufacturers struggling to find and retain talent, ensuring their onboarding process is quick provides system efficiencies.

Paper and Ink Savings

The less commonly recognized benefit of using IIoT is the monetary savings of purchasing fewer materials. On a factory floor, paper labels and paper pick instructions must be changed frequently and printed for each pick order.

The proof lies with the automotive supplier, who estimated an addition saving in annual paper and ink of between $60,000 and $140,000 after adopting IIoT, improving operational processes and contributing to the supplier’s green initiative

IIoT solutions for material flow provide savings and quality improvements and the data collected drives analytics to be used for continuous efficiency improvements and enhanced visibility in the production cycle. As more and more manufacturers adopt smart IIoT technology, we can move past the need for paper systems and into the fourth industrial revolution.