Is Your Manufacturing Business Safe from Amazon?

Amazon on the factory floor

Had somebody told you thirty years ago that an online bookstore founded by a former Wall Street VP would eventually evolve into a massive conglomerate of retail, entertainment, technology and more, you probably would have rolled your eyes in disbelief. The year is now 2021 and that same “bookstore” is selling way more than just books—and not just online anymore. In fact, you can get your groceries, cleaning supplies, and pet care items delivered from this bookstore. They make some of your favorite TV shows. They even have their own parcel service. They have stuck their nose in just about every industry imaginable besides manufacturing… or so you thought.

Amazon Monitron

The appeal for such a product is definitely real. The Monitron is also very simple to set up and use. First, the Monitron sensor must be glued to the surface of the machine you want vibration and temperature monitored—typically a place with a lot of rotating parts, like pumps or bearings. These sensors communicate with the gateway via Bluetooth. Next, you will need to connect the Monitron gateway to your Wi-Fi network so that all of your sensor data can be stored in AWS. Lastly, you can download the Monitron app to your smart device and you will begin seeing vibration and temperature data within ten minutes.

Beyond Monitron

Amazon Lookout for Equipment

Amazon Lookout for Equipment is a tool built specifically for plants with existing sensors, but whose users do not want to build brand new machine learning models. This tool will instead send this equipment data to AWS, which will build machine learning models on their behalf and send back predictions to detect potential issues. AWS analyzes data sent from the sensors, determines what is a healthy pattern or function, and builds a model unique to the user’s environment. The program continues to monitor incoming data from the sensors to predict when maintenance will be necessary. Too often, manufacturers use modeling approaches that are too elementary to be effective in detecting issues early enough to avoid downtime. Amazon Lookout for Equipment aims to provide a solution.

Amazon Lookout for Vision

Amazon Lookout for Vision uses machine learning to identify defects in visual representations using computer vision. This allows manufacturers to both increase quality and reduce operational costs by identifying irregularities in images of objects at scale, just as a human eye could. For example, Dafgards, which is a producer of microwaveable pizzas, uses Amazon Lookout for Vision to ensure that each of their pizzas are covered entirely with cheese, have the correct toppings, and adequate dispersal of the toppings. This allows manufacturers to cut inspection and quality control costs.

However, there is a downside to using a third-party tool like AWS that collects and stores your data on their programs—hacking. Manufacturing is now the second most frequently hacked industry behind healthcare. It’s not just your smaller, less secure manufacturing computer networks that are getting attacked. Large cloud computing servers trusted by manufacturers are quite often the targets of these attacks. The simple fact is that AWS has proven to not only be hackable, but also be a major target for hackers because of the vast amount of information that it holds for so many businesses.

All in all, if you are a person that loves Amazon and has no problem with them putting their greedy little fingers in your technology, your entertainment, and your shopping—then by all means, open your door and usher them into your manufacturing facilities. If this does not sound appealing to you, the bottom line is that you have options, especially if you have a smaller operation.

Recently, we launched the Raptor Data Historian that, like Amazon’s new manufacturing technology, gives manufacturers using Allen-Bradley PLCs and Modbus systems the ability to aggregate machine data easily. Raptor operates locally and doesn’t require internet connectivity. Instead, Raptor gives you complete access to your data with absolutely no monthly service fees. Not only that, Raptor gives you the peace of mind of knowing that in the event their machinery begins to malfunction or experience irregular temperatures or vibration, you will be notified via email. Reacting to these changes quickly can help save between 15-98% on overall maintenance costs. You can also easily apply alarms to any data points, all without the need for countless complex algorithms. And most importantly, you can do all of this without the need for big technology companies intruding on your plant.

Click here for more information on how Raptor Data Historian can help you implement predictive maintenance in your manufacturing facilities.