Digital manufacturing is a vital component of the Fourth Industrial Revolution where new technologies are united with AI and humans. To say that smart manufacturing factories are redefining the industrial process is a clear understatement.
With computerized and automated innovative solutions, smart factories are staying on top of trends and competitions while fulfilling the market demand through increased productivity, performance, and accuracy.
“Thanks to digitalisation, the rollout time of new products can be cut by 25-50% and engineering costs can be reduced by up to 30%,” Klaus Helmrich, management board member at Siemens announced. Energy savings are also predicted to increase by 70 percent.
The only challenge that may affect this Fourth Industrial Revolution is the significant decrease in human resources demand. With automation being on the verge of totality, how will we balance humanity and the economy? The best scenario we can hope for is that reduced dependence on labor may only increase knowledge and motivation for education, as well as practical opportunities that will be open to everyone.
In a different aspect, smart factories have provided the best Big Data analysis compared to old conventional processes. Stream of data continues to connect operation and production systems with proactive transparency.
This real-time progress allows extra flexibility no matter the dependent or independent factor variables.
Another notable innovation can be found in the Deloitte Series on Industry 4.0 where the smart factory is characterized as responsive, adaptive, and connected and is identified as the new frontier of manufacturing systems.
Just like every other evolution, manufacturers are looking to overcome, and moreover, innovate intelligent and diverse solutions to face possible unprecedented challenges in the future. One of which we’ve not seen coming, such as the current pandemic, and perhaps more than we’ve expected such as economic inflation and limited human resource or on-hand knowledge.
Smart manufacturing will most commonly have the following key attributes: Intelligence, Innovation & Responsiveness, with several prioritized challenges to mend and influence:
- Agile adaptation to prepare for supply chain disruption.
- Real-time consistent data report (minute-to-minute) from actual operational and execution system in addition to reducing manual QC manpower.
- Improved design and product quality with a fully digital process to enable automated operation and management.
Smart manufacturing completely changes the way of interaction between the core elements of the production within the company: shifting it from a linear chain model (the traditional one) to a digital network.
Although many solutions have been invented to convert conventional warehouse to smart warehouse, some of the most well-known solutions may include but is not limited to:
Since warehouses store important goods, it’s very vital that they are properly insulated to keep your inventory safe from pests, molds, and critters. No one wants a damaged item to be delivered to them. Proper insulation also decreases carbon footprint.
A key aspect in realizing a smart factory is the use of field instruments possessing intelligence—so-called smart transmitters—to support factory monitoring and diagnostics as well as networking with additional new field instruments. These smart transmitters can be distributed throughout the entire plant, different sensors can be connected, and previously unconnected parts can be monitored. The field instruments form the universal, intelligent basic unit of Industry 4.0. These units will be considered in more detail using the example of an instrument that can be used with various sensors such as resistance thermometers, thermocouples, and pressure sensors. Trends in smart transmitters include low power consumption, low space requirements, greater functionality, better performance, safety considerations, and preventive maintenance.
Artificial intelligence is now vastly corroborated, not only in warehouses but in robotic products to identify the most efficient way from stacking your products properly to selecting items up to packing. A complete end-to-end solution in the making.
Cobots and Drones
Cobots or Robots are now being utilized to do heavy repetitive tasks to increase productivity while Drones, equipped with sensors, cameras, and scanners are used to calculate inventory and access hard-to-reach places.
Artificial Intelligence and Big Data are making machines in the manufacturing industry smarter than before by addressing how to build computers that enhance automatically with experience. As a subfield of AI, Machine Learning is the primary driver of such innovations in the manufacturing sector. The advancement in technology through machine learning has brought the opportunity to accelerate discovery processes and improve decision-making.
The Power of Data
In addition, not only can sensors and mobile robots gather data for analysis, but in combination with the emerging Industrial Internet of Things, they can share their observations and take action. SO, as manufacturers become more aware of the power of data, many are turning to advanced data analytics, AI, and ML, supported by IoT platforms, to leverage their key data assets. The adoption rate of these technologies is increasing rapidly.
Providing shop floor engineers with advanced analytical tools will empower them to drive data-driven operational improvements and build the foundation to create value from AI at scale. A collaborative AI platform that automates data preparation offers automated feature engineering, and promotes interpretability with explainable AI is the need of the hour in smart manufacturing.
Automated Guided Vehicles such as forklifts are now becoming a trend in most smart warehouses and manufacturing factories. Its productivity and efficiency have been proven to be more reliable than performed labor. AGV and humans working together are optimal as it lessens the risk of accidents and harm to workers. It also saves time and energy.
The Internet of Things (or smart manufacturing) connects almost everything. It provides seamless operations. Robots, AIs, AGV, and other technologies interact and speak to each other through seamless integration. It decreases or eliminates human intervention during the process which also decreases the rate of accidents and errors. While it generally replaces humans, IoT frees up time to humans, time that can be used in things that IoT cannot, like decision making.
- 5G: allows faster data transfer (100 times faster than 4G), and ensures reduction of the technologies slowdowns or lagging.
- Robotics: due to the rapid development of new technologies robots become more and more affordable, and also cost-effective in the manufacturing process.
- Additive manufacturing: 3D printing that is now widely used in manufacturing.
- Predictive data: big data allows organizations to be more confident in analyzing and improving all processes of product manufacturing: from its design phase to the consumer demand point.
The Benefits of Manufacturing Digitalization
In order to compete in the market, defining trends and innovating more cutting-edge solutions are the main criteria. Ensuring new transitions are done as fast and seamlessly as possible is a common objective.
Smart manufacturing allows cost-efficient production with the right process and technology. Big data helps predict market success through clear analysis and evaluation, while real-time inventory monitoring generates revenue through accurate planning.
In conclusion, smart manufacturing increases collaboration and production opportunities while ensuring better equipment optimization.
What To Expect In The Next-Generation Automation?
Ambition isn’t a stranger to us all, engineers. We’re confident that every single one of us is opening up more than one ‘next-level’ automation opportunity.
Sourced from Schneider Electric, carbon emission is predicted to decrease by 32% while safety precautions are improved with smart technologies.
Increased quality with over 5 billion endpoints making up IoT systems should be expected, with universal automation and software-centric solutions.
Sustainable efficiency is no longer a choice, it’s a requirement.
Article inspired from Schneider Electric, Internetofbusiness, Siemens, Deloitte, TWI, and Unleashed Software and Analog Devices – Ahead of What’s Possible.
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