Real-life IIoT examples: how Australian brands are benefiting from industrial IIoT

Apr 14, 2023 by Mark Dingley

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There’s a lot of talk about IIoT in Australia, but how much action?

"IIoT" refers to the “Industrial Internet of Things”, which is “IoT” that applies specifically to manufacturing and process industries.

To unlock the potential of IIoT means connecting all your industrial assets, collecting data and transforming data into insights.

Over recent years, examples of IIoT in Australia have extended from mining to warehousing, and even beer kegs.

Take a look at some top examples:

Coles increases stock turnaround with trackable food bins

Australian supermarket giant Coles started using the IIoT in 2022 to streamline its supply chain.

The goal is to reduce the number of food bins it loses, understand whether and where these assets are being damaged, improve pooling of equipment for transit, and increase stock turnaround.

Here’s what they did:

Coles deployed 4,500 smart and foldable food bins, which were fitted with internet-connected devices.

The devices communicate location data in real time for each individual smart food bin, rather than just the trucks transporting them.

The solution has enabled a more connected and transparent supply chain, with insights into geolocation, geofencing, shock impact events, temperature and bin status.

Importantly, this allows Coles to optimise transport routes and equipment pooling based on usage patterns.

The innovative combination of foldable food bins and IoT technology reduces the cost of the asset pool required by 25%, tripling the amount of empty bins returned, reducing cost and waste.

Sydney Trains optimises systems based on passengers and weather

Sydney Trains is reducing its electricity consumption by using IoT sensors onboard trains to optimise several operating systems.

The IoT sensors collect thousands of data points every 10 minutes, providing a rich amount of information that can be used to analyse the train’s energy requirements.

The project’s aim is to get to a point where each individual train system – from the power and traction systems to the air-conditioning system – can be adjusted in real-time, depending on variables such as passenger load, timetable demand and weather conditions.

The New South Wales Government is also using Artificial Intelligence (AI), IoT and edge-computing technology to improve public transport reliability in Sydney and Newcastle.

The technologies have been connected to several buses, ferries and light-rail vehicles in both cities to provide a real-time view of vehicle supply, customer demand and transport performance to guide future network decisions and monitor road conditions to identify where repair work is needed.

Tracking kegs across Australia

Formed in 2019, Konvoy started as a keg rental business, offering logistics support to craft brewers across Australia.

It has since launched internationally, and now also offers next-generation IoT-enabled, scanless and seamless tracking for hundreds of thousands of kegs.

A small microbrewery might have a fleet of a thousand kegs; at $200 each, that’s a capital outlay of $200,000. Large brewers with 100,000 kegs have invested upwards of $20 million in capital, but have no real way of identifying where those kegs are or whether they need to be refilled.

While previously RFID (radio frequency ID) tags helped address the challenge, there was still no real way of knowing what the keg was doing between scans.

Konvoy’s innovative IoT-enabled tracking provides accurate data to help circulate customers’ kegs more efficiently, and get them back more quickly and completely. As well as minimising asset losses, this also helps maintain quality by ensuring that kegs are being stored at the right temperature, for example.

Greasing the mining industry

In mining, 70% of production hours lost to equipment failure come from incorrect greasing.

Grease makes heavy mining machinery work smoothly and reduces wear. Yet, incorrect greasing can lead to broken down parts, excessive rubbing wear, unexpected heat – and complete system failure.

Mining companies may have multiple sites worldwide – each with a fleet of heavy machinery. So for these companies, finding a way to automate and more precisely control grease application can save billions of dollars in terms of reduced downtime and lower maintenance costs.

The team behind Australian startup GreaseBoss, saw that this was a task ripe for automation. GreaseBoss is applying IIoT technologies – sensors, wireless connectivity, cloud computing and AI programs – to automate greasing for mining companies.

The GreaseBoss platform, which recently won the "Best Product Launch Award" in the Queensland Mining Awards, ensures plant machinery is correctly greased, guides human workers to apply and record grease application, and provides dashboard functionality to site management.

Sensors can be installed on every greased part of the machine, ensuring that all nodes are covered in the data analysis. According to GreaseBoss, this predictive maintenance increases productivity by 35%, reduces breakdowns by 70%, and lowers maintenance costs by 25%.

Reducing wasted energy through
compressed air

Even the best-designed pneumatic systems will suffer from leaks at some point. These leaks are wasteful and costly, both to the manufacturer’s bottom line and to the environment.

However, Colgate-Palmolive is combating leaks using a real-time, compressed-air monitoring system. By continuously monitoring compressed air usage, the company can quickly identify and respond to those inevitable leaks, while also optimising the supply pressure to meet the real-time demand of pneumatic processes and reducing its energy consumption.

For Colgate-Palmolive, this is all part of its plan to achieve net zero carbon in operations by 2040. With the heavy reliance on pneumatics in large-scale consumer goods manufacturing, this reduction in wasted energy associated with compressed air makes a substantial contribution to Colgate’s sustainability mission.

Ironing out quality issues in automotive aftermarket manufacturing

Leading Australian automotive aftermarket service provider MotorOne Group is running a six-month research project to automate and digitalise its manufacturing and quality assurance processes.

MotorOne wanted to iron out inefficiencies in its manufacturing and warehousing across its four warehouses in Victoria, so it invested in a purpose-built facility in Bayswater to bring everything together. The business can now bottle, package and label into the warehouse, through to its distribution centre for delivery.

Working with the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC) and Swinburne University, MotorOne is now developing an IIoT system to capture factory-floor data at the new chemical manufacturing facility to improve yield, reduce waste and subsequently bring a more positive environmental impact.

The IIoT system will closely monitor the products as they’re being manufactured, with parameters such as mixing time, mixing speed, pH and temperature, assessed in real time. Instead of relying on a test at the end of the process, IoT devices will connect more directly to the dosing equipment, meaning they can identify slight inaccuracies and miscalculations.

This will help them make process adjustments because they can see exactly what’s happening with the chemical-mixing process and the batch as it’s being mixed. For example, they might be able to reduce the amount of raw materials that go into a particular product and still get the same quality results, which saves money.

Over to you

As the examples in this article show, with IIoT, businesses can save time and money through predictive maintenance, reduce overheads through automation, improve quality and optimise processes on the fly through remote monitoring.

If you’re working toward implementing IIoT within your manufacturing business, selecting the right software and technology is crucial – from the data capture, production-line analytics and alerts, right down to the sensors. That’s where Matthews Australasia comes in. Talk to our experts to find out more about our smart factory solutions.