Over the last few years manufacturing has changed considerably as new digital tools are introduced and practices develop between companies that would have been unthinkable in the past. The internet of things is changing everything from factory floor integration to real-time product optimisation with unique customer preferences in mind. But the results are clear to see, more productivity, better quality products and an improvement in industry standards are just some of the benefits to embracing the digital revolution.
Shop Floor To Top Floor
Manufacturers investing in the internet of things, such as AI and machine learning, are enhancing the efficiency of manufacturing processes such as weld overlay in a number of smart ways. In the motor manufacturing industry, for instance, there is a move away from archaic spreadsheet methods to an integrated digitally-connected factory environment where data is shared from shop floor to top floor. In real terms this means manufacturing defects can be identified much sooner, before vehicles are dipped and have to be returned in costly recalls.
Machine To Machine
It’s not just the factory floor that’s using integrated machine connectivity. Various manufacturing industries are seeing the advantages of sharing knowledge and information and allowing the machine to do more of the heavy lifting. It’s what they’re good at after all. Autonomous decisions can be made based on sensor data and machine learning algorithms. Information can be shared across platforms and industries, meaning that suppliers are also digitally connected. Any defect in a product can be flagged up in real time resulting in far fewer issues in the supply chain, higher productivity and greater quality assurance.
The Digital Twin
Across manufacturing sectors a wide range of companies are benefiting from the real-time visibility and predictive insight offered by end-to-end connectivity and digital tools. The digital twin is an exact real-time model of a product that is undergoing the manufacturing process. It allows the product or asst to be monitored continuously ensuring quality control. Additionally, data can be predictive, offering insights into how the product will be used in the real world, meaning the manufacturing process can be continually optimised to meet its performance requirements.
We are in the age of customer centricity and mass customisation, manufacturers need to engineer-to-order, and digital tools are making this process evermore possible. The manufacturing process has shifted from transactional production to data-driven optimization. An integrated digital manufacturing environment means that a single customer’s unique demands for product variation can be integrated seamlessly into the manufacturing process of the product. Parameters such as temperature, vibration, or safety features can be added as necessary, improving customer satisfaction, quality control, and efficiency.
With the emergence of these innovative digital tools and processes manufacturers have made the shift from the old way or working, independently and strategically, to collaborating with competitors to establish better quality products and more efficient processes. There is a more open approach with a focus on what can be gained by working in partnership with others. As this culture develops companies are increasingly concerned about their reputation as an effective and trustworthy collaborator – it seems this is the latest currency.