The technology adoption rate in the manufacturing or industrial production sector is currently on the increase. An IDG Digital Business study revealed that 89% of organizations are interested in adopting a digital-first approach to business operations powered by technology and enterprises in production-based industries make up a good portion of this percentage.
The reason for this increased adoption rate has been ascribed to enhanced productivity and the ability to meet customer experience expectations. Other manufacturers state a reduction in total production cost and improved product quality as their reasons for adopting technological solutions. These varying reasons highlight the fact that manufacturers make use of diverse technologies and in different ways. So, here is a look at the top nine technologies currently transforming industrial production and how they are being used.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) – The success of IoT in mainstream service industries championed its use in industrial-production facilities and in no time, interconnected devices used within industrial facilities were tagged IIoT devices. IIoT spending is expected to hit the $12billion mark within the next 4 years which highlights its current impact in manufacturing.
And what is IIoT used for? IIoT devices and platforms have been integrated into every process within a modern facility. Today, IIoT platforms, such as MachineMetrics Production, are being used to enhance advanced planning strategies in supply chains, logistics, and operational systems.
Robotics – In the just-concluded World Economic Forum, Davos men and women were once again introduced to the transformational powers of robots as was the case in 2019. In industrial production, the role of smart robots is set to expand as diverse options get introduced to different production niches. While the effects of material handling robots have been analyzed in details in the past few years, more versatile robots such as the social robot and the agribot bring up new application cases for manufacturing enterprises to explore. As always, the target is industrial automation and robotics will continue to transform industrial production for the foreseeable future.
The Digital Twin – Manufacturing is currently undergoing a digital transformation phase, and the digital twin is one technology that brings all other transformational technologies together in one ecosystem. The digital twin accomplishes unification in ways IIoT platforms and Cloud computing cannot. This is because it integrates 3D visualization, IIoT, simulation, scheduling, and all the shining new technologies used in greenfield facilities into a digital environment.
With the digital twin, manufacturers create 3D models or representations of physical assets, operational systems, and structures that define an entire facility. It also incorporates all of the data these assets produce which makes it a digital replica of every aspect of a manufacturing facility. Industrial giants like Boeing currently use the digital twin to enhance its industrial activities.
Edge Computing – The edge has provided manufacturers with a way to deal with the challenges of processing latency within industrial facilities. The concept of edge computing focuses on decentralizing computing by delivering computing resources to individual or multiple devices in shop floors. Thus, with the edge, industrial assets no longer need to access the cloud or external data centers to analyze the data they produce. The ability to compute add the edge enhances automation and real-time process within industrial production facilities.
5G Technology– The fifth generation of wireless technology for digital cellular networks is currently being explored to reduce processing latency within industrial production enterprises. 5G connectivity is expected to have a positive butterfly effect on IIoT networks, automation, edge computing, and edge-cloud networking. The average 5G network is expected to support millions of devices within a square mile and deliver data packets at a rate that is 100 times faster than its predecessor.
Blockchain Technology – With the increased technology adoption rate in manufacturing comes security challenges. These challenges range from protecting the large data sets shop floor activities produce to determining the integrity or quality of products the consumer receives. To tackle these challenges, industrial manufacturers are increasingly turning to the safety Blockchain technology provide. It is currently being used to secure supply chains and third-party collaborations within the manufacturing industry with considerable success.
Real-Time Simulation Software – Although simulation has been a part of industrial production since the 20th century, achieving real-time simulation has been elusive. For manufacturing facilities to finally turn off the lights, real-time automation must first be achieved for a majority of traditional shop floor processes. Real-time simulations provide industrial production facilities with the tool needed to monitor shop floor operations in real-time to enhance planning and implementation strategies. With real-time simulations, the processes associated with inventory management, predictive maintenance, and scaling up production activities to match increased demand can be automated.
Additive Manufacturing – Industrial 3D printers provide industrial manufacturers with a versatile solution for producing complex or intricately designed parts with high accuracy and at a cheaper rate. But limitations such as the limited production capacity of 3D printers, as well as, size limitations hindered its adoption rate. Today, the rise of 3D printing clusters which consist of hundreds of 3D printers working in harmony, and supporting enterprise management software have reduced these limitations. Now, Fortune 500 industrial manufacturers such as BMW, have developed 3D printing labs to complement their manufacturing efforts.
Collaborative Telepresence – Now, here is a look at one for the future. Advances in augmented reality, virtual reality, and communication technologies have led to the development of a concept known as collaborative telepresence. This concept focuses on allowing individuals to interact with physical environments and assets. In the manufacturing industry, this translates to a consultant or professional actually feeling what a robot touches through haptic sensors. Thus, springing up multiple use cases in maintenance, training and validation, as well as, consultative engineering. Although the technology is still in its infancy, industry stakeholders such as Microsoft and Cisco are investing in it with the belief that it is a trillion-dollar market waiting to be tapped.
To take advantage of these technologies, industrial production facilities must first have a functional analytical ecosystem in place. MachineMetrics provides an extensive platform for strategizing, implementing, and receiving actionable intelligence from the IIoT, robotics, and edge computing data used within your facilities.
Efficiency and Industrial IoT, diving into a deeper review of how each critical manufacturing area is impacted individually to help us understand how overall operational efficiency improves within a digitized system.