Manufacturing is undergoing a digital transformation, with new technology now driving business growth. Digitisation – through smart technology and connected devices – is increasing productivity, efficiency and accuracy in the manufacturing sector.
And this digital evolution has the potential to disrupt every part of the business enterprise. The Digital Age has brought with it a new way of thinking about manufacturing and operations. Consumer expectations and the advent of connected devices and platforms are driving the push toward industry digitisation.
Rising labour costs together with increasing logistics and energy costs mean manufacturers must become more efficient to survive.
Significant advances in technology, including big data and analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics and additive manufacturing, are changing manufacturing operations globally. Allowing devices to communicate has many benefits for the manufacturing industry, including improved decision-making, increased productivity, more efficient energy management and better inventory management.
At the centre of this industrial transformation is IoT – now a critical component to help provide companies with a competitive edge. Intelligent IoT systems enable a dynamic response to product demands and rapid manufacturing of new products through interconnectivity of machinery, sensors and control systems.
IoT can provide real-time feedback and alerts companies of defects or damaged goods – significantly reducing cost and waste. And Industry 4.0 – a key component of IoT – is rapidly transforming how businesses operate.
Industry 4.0 (the fourth industrial revolution) introduces what has been called the “smart factory”. It refers to the current trend of improved automation, machine-to-machine and human-to-machine communication, artificial intelligence, continued technological improvements and digitalisation in manufacturing. Industry 4.0 allows manufacturers to have more flexible manufacturing processes that can better react to customer demands.
Smart factories with integrated IT systems provide relevant data to both sides of the supply chain more easily, increasing production capacity by up to 20%. Quality is no longer sacrificed for efficiency.
Sensors have replaced human hands, resulting in less wasted time and materials, as well as optimal accuracy and workflow.
Another integral element in industry digitisation has been the advent of mobile robots, AIVs (Automated Intelligent Vehicles).
For several years Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) have been used to move parts on the factory floor. But AGVs require metallic tape or other types of markers on the floor to navigate in a fixed path.
Instead, AIVs use laser scanners and other advanced technologies that allow them to determine their own path, avoid obstacles and be reprogrammed quickly.
And collaborative robots (“cobots”) are now being widely used to work alongside humans. Cobots can be easily programmed to mimic human traits such as dexterity and memory – and they can operate 24/7 without meal breaks and holidays. They also provide safer working environments for humans by switching places with them in dangerous or unsuitable situations.
Robots and other automated technologies can significantly improve speed and efficiency, allowing manufacturers to optimise workflow.
Data and Analytics
More companies globally are now moving from the physical world to a digital one.
An explosion in connected devices and platforms, combined with the abundance of data from field devices has made it imperative for companies to quickly adapt their products and services. By 2020, it is predicted there will be 50 times the current amount of digital content.
A new report from Zebra Technologies, 2017 Asia Pacific Manufacturing Vision Study,
forecasts a dramatic rise in “smart factories”, with the number of plants that are fully connected set to treble in the next five years.
Omron, a global leader in automation, is one of only a handful of companies that can provide industry with a total digital solution. Omron provides in-depth application expertise in motion, robotics, vision, networking and integrated safety technologies. Its imposing product offering includes robotics, machine vision, safety, big data, traceability, PackML and IO link.
These “smart factory” solutions have been designed to increase productivity and improve profitability. At the core of its IoT technology is one single platform to visualise and control all equipment – Sysmac Studio.
Connectivity is the future
Sysmac is ideal for a broad variety of industrial applications including food & beverage, packaging, pharmaceutical and healthcare. It was created to give machine developers complete control from a single environment. Sysmac Studio integrates configuration, programming, simulation, and monitoring in a simple interface. When it comes to connectivity, Omron is leading the way.
In the future, virtually all manufacturing operations will be converted into a digital format. It’s the key to future competitiveness and growth.
Does your business have a strategy in place for digital change?