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Seven reasons to start with Smart Manufacturing Today

Laura Nuhaan

Laura Nuhaan

Digital advisor

Leestijd, 5 min.

We just came back from the Hannover Messe Industrial (HMI) full of inspiration on the possibilities of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and AI applications in manufacturing. A visitor whom has been visiting HMI for many years said about this year Messe: “Every year the digital part of HMI is becoming larger and if you are expecting plain components you will be disappointed. You can simply not ignore technology anymore. “ And he is right.

What is smart manufacturing

Smart manufacturing was one of the main key themes at the HMI of this year. We see smart manufacturing as a technology-driven approach that connecting data from the digital and physical world drives new insights for manufacturers and helps solving business challenges. By implementing digital capabilities manufacturers are empowered to face the modern manufacturing challenges such as meeting increasing demands of highly customized products, increase flexibility, reduce lead time, reducing energy and resources consumption and increasing quality. Because of new data driven insights new value can be created and new business models arise.

Don’t stay behind

More and more companies are embracing smart manufacturing which is shown in the infographic.

If you have not done so already, now is the time to strategize around digital opportunities for your factories and think of a smart manufacturing strategy of your own. If you don’t start today you might be at risk of getting behind of your competitors.

Still need some more convincing to start with smart manufacturing?

We have summarized 7 key reasons why you should start today together with some examples.

1. Increase Visibility
2. Optimize Productivity
3. Lower Costs
4. Improve Quality
5. Augment Safety
6. Increase Sustainability
7. Create Value

1. Increase Visibility

Data is abundant but not always “visible” and interconnected. Bringing together different sources in the factory (machine telemetry, sensors, cameras, smart building sensors etc.) as well as Operational Technology systems such as SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) , DCS (Distributed Control Systems) HMI (Human Machine Interface) MES (Manufacturing Executive System) , etc. provide useful insights and contextualized information to management to assess performance on multiple levels: from a single machine to production line to the entire factory. An example of how such a dashboard would like is given below.

With dynamic dashboards insights processes can be improved and learnings can be used to identify best practices. Advanced analytics accelerates how benchmarking and scorecards worked in the past. It enables management to identify problem areas before even operators find out about it and it helps find solutions to problems quickly and makes remote monitoring possible. Once visibility is achieved next step consists in leveraging advanced analytics such as Machine Learning and AI leading towards predictive and cognitive models.

2. Optimize Productivity

Connected factories lead to higher productivity because of better insights and AI. Especially helpful here are digital twins of products and processes. The pairing of the virtual and physical worlds allows analysis of data and monitoring of systems to eliminate problems before they even occur, prevent downtime, ease training and enhance processes by using simulations.
For example, a company that has successfully transformed digitally is Tetra Pak. Digital is part of their core strategy and through the use of the latest digital technologies has drastically improved their ability to predict machine errors while also accelerating response times (predictive  maintenance) and bringing new value to their customers.

3. Lower Costs

Savings and operational excellence are often the main driver to start with connected factories. By connecting factories an average of 20-30 % of savings in maintenance costs are possible through virtualization and insights, real-time communication and co-bots. An example, Schneidner and AVEVA have leveraged HoloLens to optimize ItalPresse’s entire manufacturing processes by creating virtual prototypes (so-called digital twin processes) even before the plant was built, resulting in not only cost reduction but also efficiency saving. Another interesting case is Toyota Material Handling where they train autonomous pallet drones using Microsoft AirSim and mixed reality. See a short video here. The drones are not only trained not only to recognize patterns, automate processes and learn the flow on the plant floor but also to work safely alongside humans

4. Improve Quality

Camera sensors combined with AI help detect defects in quality with higher degrees of accuracy. Increased quality will save costs while also decreasing the risk of a negative image impact in case of recalls or customer complaints. A newly introduced revolutionary optical sorting system has been introduced by Buhler working closely with Microsoft. It not only improves the food cleaning process but can eliminate over 90% of contaminated grain where conventional machines only eliminate 50%. Read more in this article from Forbes.

5. Augment Safety

Safety and its related costs can be affected positively using IoT, AI and Mixed Reality. Smart badges and smart PPE can report accidents and risk conditions. Safe behavior can be stimulated by using bots as a companion to remind or instruct employees to follow the right process. Training with the use of HoloLens helps engaging employees while decreasing costs allowing virtual interaction in the mixed reality space.

6. Increase sustainability

Higher efficiency, productivity and reduction of defects by early quality issue identification helps improving energy and resources usage. Abnormal energy pattern can be easily identified by adoption of ML and schedule optimization leads to reduced machines standby hours. Also smart building applications like smart lighting, smart heating can lead to energy savings anywhere from 13-66%.

7. Create value

Probably the most exciting part that data and IoT bring is the possibility of creating new ways of value. An example of being able to create new value is Thyssen Krupp who transformed from a pure elevator manufacturer to a new model of offering elevators as a service. An example is their IoT based predictive service solution for elevators that can reduce elevator downtime by up to 50%. See the short video here. Or Schneider’s electric traceability tool for the food and beverage industry which leverages blockchain and their own knowledge in the food and beverage domain to launch this new tool in making the very complex food chain more transparent and provide customers with peace of mind.

And this is just the beginning…

Want to know more, or get started? Read our whitepaper to learn more about IoT for manufacturing or if you would like to get more information on our different offerings and technology within Smart Manufacturing, you can visit our IoT for manufacturing page.

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