Why is Smart Manufacturing the Need of the Hour?
Revolution in Industry has marked its 4th iteration known as Industry 4.0 which represents the advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) with respect to industries and their processes. Connectivity of IoT devices coupled with cognitive and learning capabilities of AI have empowered the manufacturing industry to stay ahead and relevant, optimize processes, minimize waste, enhance its supply chain, and derive insights from collected data for faster business-critical decision-making. As per a report by IoT Analytics, the market for Industrial Internet of Things is expected to surpass $12.4 Billion by 2024 at a 40% Compound Annual Growth Rate.
What is Smart Manufacturing?
In this era of digital transformation, the traditional manufacturing approach will soon become obsolete as those who adopt digital tools and innovative technologies to deliver products faster with better customer experience will leapfrog their competitors. Smart Manufacturing is not a good-to-have anymore. It’s the need of the hour. Smart Manufacturing is leveraging and embedding smart technologies such as IoT devices, AI, and Machine Learning into the manufacturing ecosystem to enhance efficiency and productivity across the entire value chain. Smart Manufacturing has the ability to extract quality, accuracy, speed, agility, and efficiency from its processes and resources. The entire value chain is inter-connected and is digitally transformed to create a web of data for consumption and analytics. Smart factories are usually customer-driven, where the end-customer experience plays a pivotal role in its core processes and improvements.
The Need For Smart Manufacturing
Industries have come a long way with respect to their production processes. They have adapted to changes in the technology landscape to enhance and optimize their production to fetch better returns. Recent innovative entrants in the technological landscape such as big data and IoT has certainly helped them tweak and align their processes to boost productivity and minimize waste. The main concern in the manufacturing industry is data consolidation. With a torrent of machines running at different locations, the data gathered from such machines are stored and worked upon in silos. An ecosystem of interoperability and interconnectivity of such machines and their data helps in breaking the silos and work as a single unit for data storage and analytics. Smart Manufacturing helps to build such ecosystems that can talk to each other, gather data, and help manufacturers make decisions faster to improve production cycles and their efficiency.
Manufacturing Industry can certainly leverage these tools and benefit from them to catapult itself from competitors and build value-driven products. Some of the reasons to adopt smart manufacturing are as follows:
- Customer-First: Smart manufacturing helps in gathering data from the end-customer with the help of IoT devices, customer feedback, product reviews, and social engagement that helps in process and product improvements. With AI capabilities, smart factories are able to take a proactive and predictive approach in identifying customer needs well in advance to deliver products that cater to such needs, thereby offering more value to the end-customer.
- Data-Driven: Traditional manufacturing was just about creating products using heavy machinery which was labour-intensive, manual, and reactive. Smart manufacturing leverages digital tools to identify engagement points in the overall value chain and collects data at every stage to help in process improvements and value enhancement. These data points help smart factories stay ahead of their competition by building relevant value-driven products faster. With the use of data analytics, manufacturers can derive insights faster to facilitate faster business decision-making.
- Reduce Waste: With Machine Learning and AI embedded in the system, smart manufacturing tools help in identifying defects in products and their processes. It enhances the accuracy of the production line consistently to reduce the number of such defects, thereby, reducing waste. AI can also help to predetermine defects, enhancing product accuracy, and bringing more value to the manufacturer.
- Minimize Errors And Enhance Productivity: Smart factories aren’t built completely with machines and technology. It is built around the existing ecosystem that helps the existing incumbent resources to leverage smart tools at their disposal to identify and automate redundant processes. This helps in the enhancement of process accuracy, efficiency, reduction in manual errors, and helps manufacturers to optimize their workforce for more productivity and value-driven tasks.
Benefits of Smart Manufacturing
With the use of IIoT, AI, and ML, smart manufacturing certainly benefits organizations to become customer-first, proactive and value-driven enterprises. Smart manufacturing helps manufacturers with the following benefits:
- Become value-driven, customer-first, and proactive
- Enhance efficiency across the value chain with continual improvements
- Reduce redundancy and increase the accuracy of processes
- Identify and proactively reduce defects and waste
- Optimize the incumbent workforce and boost their productivity
- Leverage data analytics to facilitate faster decision-making
- Foster innovation-led approach and mind-set
- Build smart products and smart factories
Technological advancements and innovations have certainly disrupted the market and its consumers. Customers prefer products that are personalized and deliver convenience and comfort. Smart manufacturing leverages customer data and their preferences to build customer experiences that facilitate ease of business, engagement, and consumption. Smart manufacturing should not be looked at as a challenge but an opportunity. It helps to leverage the existing workforce and customer data to build an interconnected ecosystem that runs like clockwork. It keeps growing smarter with continual enhancements across the value chain to deliver the rich customer experience that helps the manufacturer to become future-ready and a complete digital-native enterprise.