BYOD spreads into manufacturing sector

BYOD spreads into manufacturing sector

The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend has undoubtedly changed many aspects of  information technology (IT), but it could now be about to reshape the manufacturing sector, with smart phones and tablets set to change the way workers interact with machines.

A recent whitepaper from IHS has suggested that the number of employees in the manufacturing industry bringing their own devices to work is on the rise.

Mark Watson, associate director for industrial automation at IHS: "The use of BYOD devices in manufacturing is predicted to rise at a rapid rate in the coming years.

"But because the movement is being driven by individuals and not at the corporate level, gauging the number of BYOD devices being used or to forecast the growth of the market is difficult. Just the same, anecdotal research conducted by IHS indicates the BYOD trend is expanding in the manufacturing realm."

Many of the devices being used by workers enable them to interact with machines in a whole new way, both on the factory floor and on the move.

One example is Opto 22's groov, which enables a system where human-machine interfaces can monitor and control manufacturing automation systems.

Yet despite its significant growth in this area, there are a number of challenges that must be overcome before BYOD truly takes hold.

Mr Watson argues that one of the main issues is the fact that unlike industrial PCs, many consumer mobile devices are simply not built to handle the stresses and strains that are commonly found in the environment of the manufacturing industry, which can often see technology come into contact with vibrations, heat and water.

Yet he added that due to the popularity and clear appetite for BYOD in such environments, there is every chance that manufacturing companies may soon be able to provide workers with tablets and smartphones suitable for such applications.

There are also a number of safety and security considerations. For instance, If a production line goes down because of a problem with a consumer mobile device, it could lead to lost productivity and time.