Monitoring coding and marking equipment health with IIoT


First of all – what is IoT, or Internet of Things?

In brief, IoT refers to the connection of appliances which can then be accessed via smart devices such as phones or laptops.

The IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) is a variant of IoT, specifically designed to support a manufacturing environment.

Production managers can use IIoT to network their production equipment, collect data from the equipment, and store it in a central Cloud system. Data can then be analysed and accessed via a phone or PC and used to help managers improve their businesses.

Coding and marking equipment are often the most intelligent part of the production line and are the ideal entry point for harnessing the potential of the IIoT to improve production processes.

Using IIoT to monitor coding and marking equipment health

Using IIoT, production managers or technicians can check the status and activity of their coding and marking equipment, and therefore of the production job, from anywhere, at any time. This ability to always know the status of the job improves efficiency and, most importantly, enhances the service which companies can offer their customers.

Through monitoring live data from coding equipment, production managers can avoid potential problems, meet their deadlines and continue to satisfy their customers.

How can IIoT help keep production on track?

There are three significant benefits which IIoT can bring to production efficiencies, when used via coding and marking equipment:

1. Proactively dealing with warnings

Timely intervention is essential to avoid problems on the line, which may interrupt production.

IIoT can be used to identify which printers will need attention soon, either via live data feeds on a dashboard which can be viewed remotely from the line, or via email notifications. This allows the production manager to respond quickly and ensure production stays on track.

Working proactively rather than reactively means that workflows can be optimised, waste is reduced, and unnecessary work avoided when preventable issues arise — saving both time and money.

Examples of alerts could include:

  • low ink in a printer during a shift – this will alert an operator to refill before it runs out and impacts on production
  • a printer shows it is not printing when it should be and there are no other alerts on its health, then it shows the problem is somewhere else on the line eg a blockage in a filler or capper, or perhaps even staff not placing products on the line

2. Managing operations remotely

IIoT allows production managers to check the live status of their printers remotely, from a desk or mobile device. So, there is no need to gown up to visit the line, for example which saves time which could be spent on higher value activities

It’s often the case within manufacturing, that things break down when a supervisor or manager is absent and staff response is not immediate. In this instance, having smart technology means you can be more responsive, and manage operations while you’re out of the office, and keep an eye on production during the night shift.

Alerts let you know when something has been changed on the production, without having to visit the location of the problem yourself. This is valuable to both large companies, with multiple printers on site, and smaller companies, where staff often multi-task.

Using your smart device to monitor status of your jobs against your KPIs, will also provide an instant status alert if you are behind schedule and allow you to investigate the root cause before it impacts on production.

3. Streamline technical support

With an IIoT-enabled line, companies can also benefit from remote monitoring by their printer’s support team.

Without having to visit the factory, the support team has visibility of the printer’s health and, in the case of a problem with the printer, provide alerts, diagnoses, and advice on preventative maintenance.

Knowing there is a problem with the printer is all very well, but how do you deal with it?

With the operators’ permission, remote support teams can connect to the printer to help with message setup and other issues.

This reduces the chance of making a costly mistake; saves money by securing printers against total breakdown; and significantly increases uptime, enabling businesses to deliver more for their customers.

In addition, operators can receive advanced notice of servicing and refills, which allows for better planning. For example, they can use the period of a factory clean to carry out printer maintenance, therefore ensuring the time is used effectively.

Remote technical support can also include software upgrades, essential for maintaining the latest software and security features. IIoT-enabled equipment will allow for these to be made remotely by the printer’s support team, without a factory visit, and at a time convenient to the production manager.

So by using IIoT-enabled coding equipment, production managers can monitor the effectiveness of their equipment, tackle issues before they become a reality and impact on production, and ultimately improve their production line efficiencies.

Find out more by reading our White Paper ‘Why coding and marking is the perfect gateway to Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)