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The global trend towards a higher production flexibility associated with an extra attention on cost efficiencies have driven quite dramatically the recent advancements in the Manufacturing Tech Industry. The current trends that are being seeing nowadays are a combination of the major innovations in information and digital technologies (IIoT, Cloud Computing, AI/Big Data, Data Analytics/BI, 3D Printing) that are being merged inside the current industrial footprint that already exists inside the manufacturing organizations. This merge creates a broad coalition of new possibilities that can optimize how fast a company can react and adjust its process accordingly with the business needs.
As this merge evolves, it is always useful to differentiate and give extra focus on what are emerging technologies from the digital enablers that composes the foundations that these technologies will rely on. Digital enablers are any conductivity layer needed in order to allow data communications from the base sensor level up to business decision level, and a solid implementation of the already existing standards (ANSI/ISA-95) is mandatory give correct foundations of data availability. With available data, then is important to evolve and experiment new technologies in order to truly understand the boundaries between the maturity level that these technologies, the organizational data available and the technology itself have. These are key aspects that differentiate desires from solutions, and enables the usage of any technology effectively inside a manufacturing plant.
“Each company must decide its own approach on how to implement these technologies, but the best practices are noticeable when is developed a data driven culture inside the organization”
It is possible to notice many examples of these technological trends mainly associated to the improvement of Production Flexibility and Capacity, Quality Scrap Reduction and Prescriptive and Predictive Maintenance, which are the biggest areas that almost every manufacturing organization are looking with some way/depth to optimize performance levels. Each company must decide its own approach on how to implement these technologies, but the best practices are noticeable when is developed a data driven culture inside the organization. This means when each organization acquires the knowhow to develop simple solutions that can escalate, using the available personnel that already exists inside the organization and teach them on how to develop their own solutions. Most of the current emerging technologies are open source and this allows that the people that truly understands what and where the problems are located on a manufacturing shop floor works on problem solving, using different tools mostly. This continuous improvement approach enables the change of the mindset of buying technology from a shelf to truly apply technology where is needed in order to improve results with customized local solutions.
The main advice that I can give in order to excel and push for improvements inside any manufacturing organization is to focus on experimentation and fast prototyping solutions that will lead to new insights and continuous improvements. This approach will require the development of new technical skills and patience in order to escalate solutions from scratch, but will bring agility in order to connect the bridge between improvement desires and the technical ability to develop solutions based on technology from real and tangible problems.