Smart, connected devices are enabling BlueScope Building Components to enhance existing processes and develop entirely new solutions, according to Andrew Spence, the company’s national manager, operations and supply chain.

For example, Spence says, IoT has enabled process variables such as pressure, temperature, flow, current, level, mass and acidity to be readily measured, improving process control and generating data that can be used in models to support more sophisticated and predictive control schemes.

IoT is also making a significant contribution to worker health and safety. “Equipment such as smart helmets, which include GPS technology and an accelerometer are able to detect impacts and zero movement and can also monitor heart rate and body temperature,” Spence says in his conference papers for Melbourne’s upcoming Industrial IoT Summit, where he will be speaking in September.

“Another example is personal gas detector monitoring, where the units are becoming smaller, smarter and collect more data. This enables improved management of people who might be exposed to toxic gases as part of their work.”

Video monitoring is also becoming important. “The use of live video for equipment issue diagnosis where technical experts are remote from the equipment location can be effective for problem resolution as well as site personnel training. This technology enables centralisation of technical expertise and more rapid resolution of equipment issues,” he says.

Beyond this, Spence says, tracking manufacturing in progress for made-to-order products for customer communication and logistics planning and scheduling creates differentiation opportunities and boosts manufacturing efficiency.

In addition, there are opportunities for applications such as forklift speed management based on factory zoning, where the vehicle automatically limits the speed within higher risk areas.

“Shortened and connected supply chains”

IoT can also be used to streamline the supply chain. “In pursuit of the nirvana of shortened and connected supply chains,” it is becoming possible to link consumable levels automatically to the reordering systems, Spence says.

He will go into more detail on BlueScope Building Components’ IoT strategies and applications at the Industrial IoT Summit, along with how the company is managing the enormous amount of data generated.

Spence is one of more than 20 speakers presenting at the Industrial IoT Summit on 20–22 September at the Pullman Melbourne Hotel Albert Park hotel. Use the VIP code IOTHUB and save 10 percent off pass prices.