A few decades ago, the term manufacturing industry may have conjured an image of a morose, dark, dungeon-like factory that ran on a rigmarole of monotonous tasks. However, cloud solutions, the Internet of Things, smart analytics, and hyperconnectivity is changing that depiction into a representation of the potential of digital transformation. When you consider that the manufacturing industry constitutes a significant percentage of the industrial sector, there is considerable opportunity to power global economic growth.
Here are five ways smart manufacturing can contribute phenomenally to the industry – and the world.
1. Making sense of data
Shop-floor and plant data are generated steadily and in great abundance. Smart manufacturing puts the large volume of manufacturing Big Data to effective use, providing better production yield at a reduced cost. Advanced analytics on this data can then be applied to demystify hidden patterns, correlations, trends, and other untapped insights. By using the key elements of complex analysis such as visualizations, predictive tools, statistics, and neural networks, the industry and its executive leadership can make more informed, actionable decisions.
2. Connecting humans, machines, and everything in between
Sensors, RFID chips, and other devices that capture Internet of Things (IoT) data helps ensure that machines, humans, and devices connect and communicate with each other. This machine-to-machine connectivity is quickly becoming the core of the warehouse because the various supply chain management activities and operations can be monitored from absolutely anywhere. Plus, machine-to-human and machine-to-robot communications open up new levels of technological advancements – beginning from the shop floor and going all the way to the boardroom and beyond.
3. Embracing and steering Industry 4.0
Industry 4.0 has arrived, ready to birth a string of smart factories. It is marked by the presence of intelligent cyber-physical systems that contribute to the autonomous execution of end-to-end activities along the value chain. The manufacturing sector is gradually moving towards complete digitization with the convergence of Big Data, cloud, sensors, and hyperconnectivity. Before you know it, the factory floor will no longer be ruled by winches and supervisors, but by mouse clicks on a laptop or taps on a mobile device.
4. Checking off the boxes on a checklist of mission-critical metrics
Manufacturers are consistently focused on increasing productivity and product quality while reducing cost and meeting delivery timelines. In addition, crew safety is paramount. If these performance indicators are defined and fulfilled, operational processes are likely to be profitable. By combining smart manufacturing mechanisms with 3-D printing, advanced robotics, and augmented reality, manufacturers position themselves for unprecedented competitive advantage.
5. Envisioning a green industry
Eco-friendly manufacturing processes and products not only conserve and protect our planet, but also reduce business costs as energy consumption declines. Sustainability still rules the roost across the industry, and the key focus is conservation. Intelligent equipment, devices, sensors, smart software, appropriate alerting, and advanced analytics could pave the way towards greener factories and a resplendent future.
Illuminated, smart factories are quickly replacing dark dungeons and gloomy manufacturing alleys. But where do the loyalties of a manufacturing organization reside? Is it sufficient to plunge into the ocean of digital transformation without a single lifeboat?
The answers to these questions all point to a smart workforce made up of competitive, agile, and responsive digital talent. As intelligent machines take on many monotonous human tasks and incumbency, decision makers at all levels need to take the complexity of data-driven knowledge through the power of advanced analytics, IoT, Big Data, and cloud technology.
Transformation is inevitable. Transformation is the key. Are you ready?
For more insight on how the manufacturing industry is transforming, see Product Platforms: Old Idea, New Opportunity For Manufacturers.