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Intelligent Manufacturing Changing how Manufacturing is Conceptualized


Disruption from Cloud, Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence technology is changing how manufacturing is conceptualized. Industries are moving from a product-oriented focus to a broader view where manufacturing is considered a part of an ecosystem relying on consumer data to drive production efficiency at the factory. This phenomenon introduces the idea of intelligent manufacturing as a global practice.

Widespread internet connectivity and changing consumer preferences have revolutionized product and service delivery models. Consumers increasingly prefer subscription models to traditional one-off purchases.

Manufacturers are now compelled to change production methods to adapt to this unfamiliar environment. Convergence of Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) is bridging the gap between consumer needs and production variables.

Here is a breakdown of the factors driving intelligent manufacturing:

The Rise of XaaS

The subscription economy or what is popularly referred to as anything-as-a-service (Xaas) originated from cloud computing service models. Anything-as-a-service goes beyond delivery of software, platforms, and infrastructure over the internet.

Today, more traditional products such as transport and accommodation are provided on subscription.

Adoption of cloud computing has been driven by its convenience, cost-effectiveness, easier deployment and how business is easily adapting to market changes with cloud-based services.

The subscription model is convenient for users. Therefore, it has spread, and manufacturers must adapt to keep up. For instance, the automotive industry must contend with a shift in consumer trends from owning a car to using it as a service via providers like Uber.

The subscription economy is personalized. Therefore, manufacturers must use technology to get real-time consumer insights. These insights will enable manufacturers to align their production with consumer needs, therein.

Synergy of Modern Technologies

Widespread adoption of cloud technology to support modern technologies such as data analytics and artificial intelligence is producing better market cooperation. With data processing for big-data analytics running online, and artificial-intelligence-powered devices at the factory floor being connected to the internet, an integrated ecosystem is forming.

Commerce has shifted to the online space. Consumers are completing more transactions online. With all these transactions running on cloud-based infrastructure, real-time data analytics is standard practice. Consumer trends and preferences are now tracked live, providing a huge amount of consumer insights for manufacturers.

Internet-enabled devices at the factory floor can now receive direct consumer data. Through artificial intelligence, these devices can adjust production variables to match trending market demand.

The integration of cloud, data analytics and artificial intelligence is driving smart manufacturing that is more consumer-centric.

Convergence of IT and OT

Operational technology (OT) runs production at the factory level. OT progression has brought more automation and production efficiency on the factory floor. Operational technology consists of sophisticated software that runs machines at the factory. This technology handles tracking inventory and managing production rates.

The role of information technology (IT) in manufacturing has been to gather, monitor and analyze consumer data to inform manufacturing decisions.

The IT/OT convergence is merging these by allowing communication of the supporting devices and infrastructure. Instead of the two acting separately, information is gathered, analyzed and shared with systems controlling the production environment over the air.

With cloud-based infrastructure, manufacturing can be monitored and controlled remotely.

IT/OT convergence is enabling manufacturers to adapt faster to market dynamics. Instantaneous market insights can be used to adjust production rates faster. On the progress analytics of production variables also allows manufacturers to detect areas of improvement in the production cycle. It is now easier to adjust production and marketing efforts interchangeably. Manufacturers can push for more marketing based on production data or adjust production based on market insights.

Overall Benefits of Intelligent Manufacturing

Manufacturers will get better efficiency with intelligent manufacturing. However, they must adopt a different approach to production. These are the benefits that manufacturers can get by adopting smart manufacturing.

  1. Managing uncertainty Real-time market insights will reduce the risk for manufacturers. Production can be more specifically geared towards market demand based on the current trend.
  2. New methods of production Intelligent manufacturing will enable manufacturers to innovate and improve production methods. Real-time production data analysis monitors the entire production cycle noting areas of improvements. With artificial-intelligence-powered systems, manufacturers can simulate production scenarios based on available data to come up with alternative scenarios to improve production.
  3. Quality checks Quality control in intelligent manufacturing is more accurate. Through internet-of-things technology, items in the production cycle can be monitored in online and offline from anywhere. Analyzing production data instantly will enable faster and accurate detection of defects of items at the factory floor.
  4. Maintenance Real-time production analysis will allow manufacturers to plan for maintenance cycles at the factory more efficiently. Sensors embedded in machines can provide data about machine performance and analytics will provide projections on when maintenance should be scheduled. With more predictable maintenance cycles, manufacturers can reduce downtimes caused by unexpected breakdowns. The production environment is monitored in at-once from anywhere.
  5. Supply chain communication Integration in the supply chain will increase market efficiency. With real-time production data, manufacturers can advocate for the promotion of products with lower production costs to increase profitability. Manufacturers can respond faster to current information from marketers on products in demand before consumer preferences change.
  6. Integration Intelligent manufacturing supports an end-to-end ecosystem. Data analytics will enable prediction of consumer demand and increase production efficiency. With cloud-based infrastructure, all stakeholders in the production process can access market data anywhere, anytime for decision making. Better cooperation among market players will allow more efficient allocation of resources and more profitability.
  7. Cutting waste Convergence of technologies in the supply chain will result in market efficiency with reduced waste. Manufacturers can produce more accurate quantities in response to market demands. Marketing expenses can also be directed to the products with higher margins leading to overall efficiency in the market. There will be less wastage of production resources and marketing budgets.

It’s the Future

Smart manufacturing integrates the entire supply chain to increase value for consumers and improve efficiency for manufacturers. Manufacturers must change their approach to manufacturing to align with market dynamics.

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