5 Ways The Industrial Internet Will Change Manufacturing
Eric Savitz | Forbes
For manufacturers, a global economy means tougher competition, more demanding customer needs and fast-paced change. In order to win in a volatile environment, companies must produce the best products, faster and at the lowest cost. Creating more efficiency is the only way to accomplish this, and manufacturers are increasingly turning to technology to get them there.
The Industrial Internet is enabling this change to be more productive by making the physical world of industry more intelligent. By connecting machines to the Internet via software, data is produced and insight into the manufacturing process is gained. These machines become part of an intelligent network that can automate information and action to optimize plant floor performance. To that end, the promise of this technology will change manufacturing in the following five ways:
1. Data Works Harder
It is software, facilitated by all that the Internet brings to the table that can harness the details created from processes, and turn that data into knowledge – what we like to call Industrial Big Data. It’s about using that data, acquired from people, processes and machines, to solve business problems and improve processes.
Operational data is coming online faster through the ever-increasing set of advanced devices and equipment. The volume of Industrial Big Data is expanding exponentially. For example, a company that produces a personal care product can generate 5,000 data samples every 33 milliseconds, resulting in 152,000 samples per second, or 13 billion samples per day, 4 trillion samples per year. And that is only one product line. Just think about a multi-product plant!
Industrial enterprises stand to gain from Big Data only if they have the capabilities to make that data accessible and understandable. It starts with collecting, storing and managing large volumes of historical and real-time data sets. Then, with the power of meaningful analytics, companies can turn that data into operational agility to support real-time, better-informed decisions. This type of advanced software technology puts bytes to work, and turns data into a competitive differentiator.
2. Predictive Analytics Makes You Smarter
Imagine you had a crystal ball at home. You’d be rich, right? You would be able to pick the winning lottery numbers, you’d know when to lock in your heating oil prices, and only in certain circumstances would you bet on your favorite baseball team.
What would you be able to do with a crystal ball in a manufacturing environment? Software that analyzes data to uncover trends, patterns and behaviors is that crystal ball. Think about what happens every day on the shop floor. Operators steeped in experience are your line of defense to prevent that line from going down. That experience takes time to accumulate. Now think, what if every operator had a crystal ball and could see when machine performance began to deteriorate? That machine could be serviced before performance levels declined and impacted production. That’s having real-time tools to identify problems before they arise, saving time, money and precious output.
Intelligence, alone, is not good enough or fast enough in today’s competitive environment. Manufacturers need insight that can only come from foresight.
3. Mobility Enables The Workforce
To the traditional manufacturer, the use of mobile devices in your plant might seem rogue. I’m here today to tell you it’s not. In my opinion, mobility really is the next logical evolution in applying lean manufacturing principles.
The ability to measure line uptime, output performance and quality at your fingertips and on-demand from anywhere, empowers engineers. This has huge positive ramifications on the running of the plant. Their work is no longer confined to the control room or walking to a machine. An operator can use a mobile device, like an iPad or a SmartPhone to make decisions immediately. Just think of what this enables — cost reduction and increased productivity, while driving innovation and flexibility on the plant floor. Mobility ultimately delivers superior products to market – faster.
4. The Cloud Spreads The Wealth
Some may think that the Cloud is reserved for consumer interactions, like Amazon and Google. Manufacturers need to consider the Cloud as “a land of opportunity.” I think there is a place for it. For example, a cloud-based library, or community, can allow engineers to share knowledge freely, so others don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Benefiting from each other’s work reduces mistakes and improves productivity.
The Cloud can not only drastically increase productivity but also speed learning by offering a cadre of application tools – everything from re-useable machine control algorithms to previously established troubleshooting and diagnoses, or simulations for production scenarios. You could also use it to compare line performance, therefore becoming a repository of best practices. However manufacturers decide to use the Cloud, there is no question that its application can lead to efficiency gains.
5. High-Performing Businesses Need High-Performance Computing
As companies increase data capture, there is a corresponding increased focus on the value of information results. With more connected sensors and devices generating data, the support infrastructure must also expand. As investments in the networks and systems that collect, manage, deliver and store this data increase, so does the expected computing power to deliver the value of the information through analytics. Speed becomes the essential ingredient. Information availability to make an operational decision based on a complete picture requires a high-performance infrastructure.
The Journey Continues
The factory floor is the nucleus of a company and when properly optimized, it is a competitive advantage. With a greater level of visibility at the plant level, manufacturers can achieve greater predictability in output, cost and quality.
As someone who spent many years in supply chain, I’m excited about the Industrial Internet and all that it has to offer business today and tomorrow. There is certainly more to come on this journey, but one thing is for sure, the impact of the Industrial Internet will be profound.
This article was written by Eric Savitz from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
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