Heavy machine operators are finally benefiting from the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT): the interconnection of industrial electronics, vehicles, and other devices capable of exchanging information electronically. Once hooked into the IIoT with a tablet or smartphone, machine operators, drivers, and other facility workers are able to increase productivity and limit typical on-the-job frustrations.

Precision components manufacturer Indiana Technology and Manufacturing Company (ITAMCO) was facing a significant but common problem with operations in their facility. Forklift operators were frequently unable to locate a lift to complete their task. This would cause a backup on product lines where materials sat finished and ready to move on with no way to move them, rendering the workers on that line inactive until someone showed up with to remove the pallets.

Utilizing MTConnect protocol, ITAMCO integrated their forklifts with each product and every worker. Yet instead of having MTConnect and their ERP (enterprise resource planning) data simply flow into the manager’s computer for the sake of supervision, ITAMCO put it to use for their employees on the floor. All forklifts and other essential pieces of equipment were connected to a the digital monitoring program and all key employees given handheld technology, like GPS enabled phones, to link up to the same system.

The new system at ITAMCO allows station workers to notify the nearest forklift operator (the program determines who is closest to the station with GPS) they are needed. The operator is then able to locate the nearest forklift and the system alerts workers at the next station that a forklift with pallets is on its way. Simply by checking their phone or tablet, any ITAMCO worker can track incoming and outgoing materials so they can optimize their efforts. The facility, which has been using this system since 2012, now enjoys a 10 percent decrease in the time it takes to relocate materials.