Digital transformation has become the buzzword in the manufacturing industry. Attend any manufacturing event or conference and you will hear speakers talk about how digital technologies are transforming this sector. It is no secret that integration of new-age technologies yields plethora of benefits such as improved operational efficiency, enhanced product innovation, and seamlessness in the production cycle. However, the industry is yet to unleash the true potential of digital technologies. Let us begin by understanding the meaning of digital manufacturing.
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What is Digital Manufacturing?
Digital manufacturing is the application of transformative technologies to manufacturing services, supply chains, products, and processes. Digital manufacturing technologies link systems and processes across all areas of production to create an integrated approach to manufacturing, from design to production.
Here’s how digital manufacturing is transforming the manufacturing industry:
Increased efficiency through automated exchange of data – Departing from traditional paper and manual processes by deploying cloud-based automated solutions help manufacturers to streamline processes, quickly access analytics for improved decision-making, reduce costs, and simplify performance monitoring. This not only reduces time to market but also improves overall quality by reducing wastage.
Enhanced innovation – The integration of digital technologies enable manufacturers to innovate by simplifying production lifecycle through enhanced collaboration. By utilizing AI and ML in the production process, manufacturers can ensure that employees can access data at all hours to improve their collaboration. In addition, they can build predictive analysis to gain insights into different systems and processes for better coordination.
Reduces costs – Digital manufacturing allows manufacturers to gain better insights into their supply cycles. This empowers them to tackle any issues in the supply chain such as inventory levels, delivery status, thereby reducing unnecessary risk and costs related to excessive and idle inventory.
Improved product quality – Traditionally, manufacturing industry was known for its reactive approach to product quality, wherein defects and safety issues were addressed only after the product is on the shelves. This led to poor product quality and reputation loss. With digital manufacturing, companies can take a more proactive approach. They can utilize modern tools such as digital cameras and visual analytics to have more detailed view into the production cycle. Also, smart tools and dashboards can be used to analyze the quality of products. With smart technology, manufacturers can streamline and simplify the overall process of data collection, which allows them to identify any defect at the earliest.
In conclusion, digitalization provides manufacturers the opportunity to introduce rigorous quality management and control. It also helps to assure that compliance requirements will be duly met. In addition, it enables them to satisfy two major stakeholders – employees and customers. Digital technologies reduces the efforts required for manual processes and enhances collaboration and coordination, thereby meeting the employees’ needs. It also makes the end-consumers happy by ensuring better product quality and faster time to market.