Earlier this year at the SAP For Chemicals conference, I had the opportunity to sit down with Steve Hilton, co-founder and president of MachNation, an IoT research firm, to chat about what’s trending on the techie side of manufacturing.
One of the questions Hilton says he hears the most from manufacturers thinking about new IoT solutions is: Where do I start? The answer, of course, depends on your facility and its needs. But perhaps a best first step a manufacturer can make when pondering IoT options is to get inspired.
So to help showcase some of the innovative solutions IoT can provide, Hilton pointed to these examples from across the globe.
The Connected Warehouse
Created as a partnership between SAP, Cisco and Vuzix, these augmented reality glasses makes the humdrum of moving boxes around look like a fun video game. And even better, they help solve the everyday hassles of warehouse work quickly, efficiently and hands free.
“The questions were: Can we make the warehouse environment more operationally efficient? Can we reduce the errors? Can we reduce accidents?” Hilton, who also serves of Cisco’s IoT World Forum Steering Committee, said.
Sold by Vuzix, the smart glasses have been on the market for a little over a year, and provide factory workers with real-time data access, safety features and sweet communication tools.
Smart Farming on The Vine
Cutting-edge tech even has a place in the oldest of traditions. A few years ago, a vineyard in Vermont installed sensor technology in its fields to monitor the growing grapes.
“The sensors track the water levels, the sunlight levels, the humidity and temperature to help the farmer know when to water, harvest, fertilize the crops,” Hiltons explained.
The implications could go far beyond a single vineyard.
“This technology could improve the entire spectrum of agriculture,” Ken Albert, owner of Shelburne Vineyard, says in this video created by Cisco. “The quality of the food supply, yields, taste, disease resistance … agriculture would be more effective in feeding our ever-growing population."
Internet of Everything at The Port of Hamburg
Around 10,000 ships and millions of containers move in and out of the Port of Hamburg each year, making it one of the busiest ports in the world.
“It’s a logistics nightmare. You have ships coming in from the deep sea, those monster containers, the machinery that picks up the monster containers, trains and trucks coming in, and workers moving around,” Hilton said.
Using IoT, the port now features techie solutions to safely route products through the port including GPS sensors in the containers to optimize work flow, and street sensors that monitor traffic flow throughout the city to help port workers route ships through the city more efficiently.