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Smart Manufacturing - a bold entry into the business world

# : MANUFACTURING | SMART OPERATIONS

Thu, 18 Jun 2020

3 to 5 mins read

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Overview

Manufacturing and the digital economy are becoming synonymous with one another as            "smart manufacturing" makes a bold entry into the business world. Despite this reality and the fact that your company may be doing well, it's critical that you remain diligent to all industry changes occurring including analytics, cloud computing, additive manufacturing, shop floor automation, and the <IIoT> (Industrial Internet of Things). When you're not staying ahead of these curves, then you risk losing that competitive edge.

Changing customer behavior is forcing manufactures to integrate business & manufacturing systems to mass produce while still remaining profitable 

Because customers are consistently seeking products with extensive customizations and manufacturers are feeling pressure to mass-produce cost-effectively, it's critical that the integration of business and manufacturing systems occur with automation technology. In the past, these systems would operate separately. However, factories are becoming developing full integration and embracing connected manufacturing, so they can approach everything from sales to delivery confirmations more efficiently while simultaneously reducing costs.

What is Connected Manufacturing? - New integrated world

When looking at connected manufacturing, this business strategy explicitly leverages cloud computing as a means of harnessing business and operational data to gain greater control, customer satisfaction, efficiency, and visibility. You achieve end-to-end control and visibility when your people, processes, and supply chains have these connections.

Because data recording and collection occurs in real time, you know what's happening on your shop floor. All data is accessible by you, as well as your customers, employees, and suppliers. There is also access to historical information that will allow you to develop a supply and demand plan you can share with your marketing, operations, and sales teams. These reports can adjust to translate into requirements for materials, as well as scheduling to help drive production. You also have access to manufacturing visual and intelligent analytics, which allows you to adapt your decisions each time demands change.

Why is Connected Manufacturing Beneficial?

Under most circumstances, the manufacturing process is manual and a slow process. These processes often involve human error and, when the need to deliver data to top executives comes into play, the process is slow. Plant managers have the requirement of developing spreadsheets or graphs weekly for executives to review, but they often don't provide enough actionable information. Shop floor supervisors are also responsible for hand-delivering job packets containing what the jobs for the floor staff are for the day, and then the completion of these tasks are often given as a verbal report back.

Use of technology will create real-time connections from the shop floor to the top floor

The use of a paperless system with full automation would improve not only efficiency but also reduce much of this manual work. The use of technology would create real-time connections throughout the manufacturing floor, as well as with other internal and external business systems. Another benefit to the use of this data is its potential for visual conversions, thus allowing all employees to understand and analyze the information efficiently.

The Possibilities for Connected Manufacturing - Manufacture at scale

Custom Manufacturing: in the past, custom manufacturing was seen as something completed by specialists, and it was considered unprofitable. Large manufacturers rarely took on these projects for this reason. However, the <IIoT> makes offering custom manufacturing jobs a possibility thanks to sensors and individual components along the production line. This automation makes projects scalable and possible.

Inventory tracking

No longer is guesswork part of tracking inventory thanks to automated inventory tracking. There is the possibility of a significant increase in efficiency, as well as a reduction in errors.

Manufacturing products

It's possible to create a manufacturing line of "connected" products. For example, these products could contain sensors to collect and display information to consumers, thus improving their experiences.

Real-time tracking

When products experience real-time tracking, it's possible to receive a full set of data as it moves throughout the production line. These efforts help manufacturers understand the logistics and determine where improvements are necessary.

How Can Manufacturers Use These Benefits to Their Advantage?

When manufacturers have this information readily at their fingertips, they can increase efficiency by resolving issues throughout their business immediately, thus allowing for profitability and customer satisfaction to raise. When connected manufacturing is in place, companies can harness a myriad of opportunities unlike ever before. Here are some examples:

Accountability

Visual displays guide every worker at each production station displaying their standard work instructions, assembly time elapses, and any customer-specific requirements for various options and features. There's an increase in efficiency as a result, and a significant compression in cycle and production time also occurs.

Production Planning in the Plant

Plant resources experience maximized growth with optimized planning, clear visibility, and forecasting into finances and operations. When connected manufacturing is in place, the integrated system allows managers to place assignments with manufacturers for products for every given order and, in turn, will strengthen the performance of on-time deliveries.

Staff Performance

Real-time feedback is available for everyone on the plant floor regarding how their work compares to output plans. It's possible to see how their value is contributing to the business as a whole, as well as how they're impacting customers.

Sourcing

It's possible to source materials and maintain a competitive edge quicker when using an integrated system. It's also faster to receive feedback from suppliers from every department.

Warehouse

It's essential for the warehouse and production floor to have connections so decision makers can optimize material movements between these areas. It's possible to reduce the days-in-inventory by up to fifteen percent by integrating real-time material availability with real-time manufacturing capacities.

Why Connected Manufacturing?

The longer you wait to embrace connected manufacturing, the further behind your company will be behind the rest. 

The more you learn about this way of integration, though, the better chance you'll have at embracing this business strategy. 

Rather than experiencing errors or down-times, or other frustrations on the production floor, it's better to make adaptations with the shifting manufacturing industry.

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