The convergence of automation, big data, data exchange, next generation human machine interfaces (HMI) and a host of other technologies like augmented reality (AR) and digital twins are just a few technology forces propelling Industry 4.0 and the industrial internet of things (IIoT). But companies need a means of putting agile, powerful, and mobile control of those converged forces into the hands of operations managers, which is where custom tablets come in.

In the new IIoT world, networks of sensor-equipped smart devices and machines can collect data for analysis and interpretation to reduce costs and waste while increasing efficiency and quality output. But without analytics, these sensors cannot provide the data to improve uptime and efficiency while lowering scrap and waste.

This is where Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) comes into play as a means of visualizing, sharing, and acting upon sensor data via OEE software. Customized tablets that are purpose-built for these environments are the conduit for visualizing, sharing, and most importantly making OEE data actionable while in the field. While basic internet connectivity to data center servers and desktop visualization are important for overall system performance management, the ability to access and utilize this data on-site in real time is crucial to both diagnosis, repair, and maintenance. Customized tablets capable of direct interface with specialized equipment are most effective. When choosing an industrial custom tablet manufacturer, companies are seeking partners that understand today’s and tomorrow’s industry 4.0 and IIoT needs.

For example, industrial AR platforms designed for manufacturing environments also enable industrial employees to visualize a data set via customized tablets. The combination of AR and custom tablets are increasingly driving machine repairs. AR schematics and graphical user representation of parts and repair process can be overlaid on an existing machine or part to guide the user with process images. This enables service technicians to affect repairs of complex systems.

Since OEM specialists are few, this saves the manufacturer the costs and downtime of waiting for an equipment specialist to address service requests. Wireless access, fast processors, internal camera and advanced graphics processing components of customized tablets can even bring the remote technician into the factory to provide oversite and additional technical support.

Using these industrial AR tools via custom tablets enables multiple users to deploy them at the same time so supervisors can see what repair techs and operators see on the factory floor or in the field. Custom tablets, OEE software and AR/VR form an incredibly powerful visualization toolset across the manufacturing environment for maintenance, machine monitoring, and optimization.

As Industry 4.0 takes hold many manufacturing environments are adding a new approach to machine operation and maintenance visualization via digital twins. Although the concept and the reality of digital twins is still in flux, its connection with augmented reality has clear implications in manufacturing.

Custom tablet manufacturers can design rugged tablets that are optimized for collecting, visualizing and analyzing data through onboard applications and via cloud connections. This can include integration of needed specialized peripherals, updated displays, application specific onboard interfaces, extended battery life, and an ability to use a variety of wireless communication protocols beyond the standard Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Manufacturers that are making true strides in digital transformations understand that current and emerging technologies must have practical applications that deliver bottom-line results. That means having current technologies that can adapt and be interoperable with emerging technology and needs.

Customized tablets can be designed to maximize both existing and emerging technologies. By providing modern manufacturing sectors with ideal custom designed tablets for IIoT, it’s possible to empower them with the tools that connect the present and the future of Industry 4.0.