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You are a member of the plant information systems group for a small manufacturer of all-natural ingredient cosmetics. Your firm promotes itself as adhering to the highest standards of compliance and quality. Manufacturing is rigorously monitored via sensors and computer controls throughout the entire process, and automated temperature controls ensure complete stability in the manufacturing environment. Sensor tracking is performed from the moment that raw materials enter your facility, throughout the manufacturing process, packaging, and on to distribution. The sensors and computer controls were installed when the plant was built in the 1990s and use proprietary communications protocols and are not Internet enabled. Data from these sensors is monitored by a group of three technicians in the computer control room. Twelve workers are required to staff the control room 24/7, including weekends and most holidays. Your company has just purchased a plant previously owned by one of your competitors in a nearby state. Your group has been asked to look at the feasibility of upgrading the sensors used in both plants to Internet-enabled sensors connected to the Internet of Things. This would make it possible for technicians in one control room to monitor the operation of both plants. Plant staffing could be reduced by 12 workers saving $1.2 million in labor expenses per year. It is estimated that the cost of replacing the existing sensors and converting to the Internet of Things is in the vicinity of $1.5 million.
1. Why is it necessary to replace the existing sensors to implement an IoT network?
2. What additional benefits may arise from converting the plants to the Internet of Things?
Critical Thinking Questions
1. What new risks are raised by placing the new system of sensors on the Internet of Things?
2. What actions could be taken to reduce these risks?
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