We are on the threshold of the next industrial revolution or revolution 4.0 with smart manufacturing! Smart manufacturing is all set to empower businesses to achieve value by leveraging technologies such as the Industrial Internet of things (IIoT), Cloud, and Analytics.
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines Smart manufacturing as “systems that are fully integrated, collaborative manufacturing systems that respond in real-time to meet changing demands and conditions in the factory in supply networks and in customer needs.”
The reason smart manufacturing is being cited as the next industrial revolution is that it comes in the wake of technological breakthroughs such as increased connectivity and unprecedented access to and contextualization of data. Therefore, it is no surprise that the smart manufacturing market is expected to grow to approximately 480 billion USD by 2023! (Source: Statista)
Smart manufacturing offers a collaborative and fully integrated manufacturing system. This system empowers the manufacturers by responding in real-time to varying demands in the factory, supply network, and customers.
The modern-age customers have become more demanding than ever. Predicting their demands is a challenge and smart manufacturing comes as a solution that helps predict these customer demands while cater to them.
Smart manufacturing essentially optimizes the manufacturing process with the help of a technology-driven approach. Technology such as internet operated machinery is used for monitoring the production process.
Smart manufacturing applies the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). This entails deploying sensors in manufacturing machines that collect data on the operational status and performance.
IIoT enables steaming data across different machines in the factory and multiple facilities. This offers complete visibility across different operational processes, providing information about the failure of parts, etc. This enables preventive maintenance.
Manufacturers are able to study data trends and spot inefficiencies in processes, a slowdown in production or inefficient usage of materials.
Real-time data enables manufacturers to run simulations to identify the most efficient manufacturing methods.
IIoT: IIoT is the basic technology leveraged by manufacturers for smart manufacturing. The existence of IoT in the manufacturing set up is due to widely available internet access, smaller sensors, and cloud computing. Data reveals that investors are set to invest $267 billion in IoT alone by 2020.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML): Manufacturing companies collect volumes of data. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning enable automatic decision making based on this data. AI and ML can analyze the input data and make intelligent decisions.
Drones and Driverless vehicles: These have the potential of increasing productivity by performing tasks such as moving vehicles across the facility, thereby relieving the workers to focus on core tasks.
Blockchain: Blockchain offers a fast and efficient way of recording and storing data because of blockchain benefits such as immutability, traceability, and disintermediation.
Edge Computing: Edge computing enables manufacturers to transform large volumes of machine-generated data into actionable data. This data can be leveraged to gain insights that empower data-based decision making. The transformation of data is enabled by resources such as alarms, temperature sensors, etc., which makes data analytics possible at the source itself.
Predictive Analytics: The large volumes of data available can be analyzed to study the trends and anticipate problems and improve forecasting.
Digital Twins: Digital twins are used to model processes, networks, and machines in a virtual environment. Digital twins help predict problems before they occur and enhance the productivity and efficiency of the organization.
We are heading towards a new era of the industrial revolution in which automation equipment will provide processing and real-time control in addition to sensing functions necessary for operating connected environments. Technological innovations in sensing, digital signal processing, signal conditioning, wired and wireless connectivity will provide a solution to the challenges faced by the manufacturing sector. Smart manufacturing with the help of emerging technologies will be able to use app-oriented solutions that will greatly reduce the OEM’s time to market.
Technological and economic forces are transforming the way factories operate. To survive in this fast-changing environment, developing agile factory equipment is the need of the hour! And, smart manufacturing is just what the doctor ordered! Smart manufacturing that operates using connected and intelligent systems will help factories become safer and flexible while increasing connectivity that enables collaboration.