TOWARDS SMART MANUFACTURING
Digital transformation, today, has clearly outgrown the scenario of remaining a choice. The rapid surge of productivity and efficiency that it entails justifies it as a necessity for good reasons. Digital transformation is more than just software, solution, or an application, but a novel and advanced way of thinking and building sustainable digital platforms with a vision. This phenomenon has been steering many industries towards evolution, including the manufacturing industry. Factories driven by intelligent automation capabilities have altered the face and pace of businesses. Growing customer expectations, technological boom, and increased connectivity are the prime catalysts fueling this transformation. The pandemic and its implications have further accelerated this digital revolution. According to recent research, 83 percent of CEOs “understand and recognize the importance of spending in smart manufacturing”, and 76 percent of them have either initiated smart factory plans or are on the road to its implementation.
Read further to learn about the already existing technological trends highlighted by smart and sustainable solutions like Dynamics 365, and those gaining momentum with an eye for the future of the manufacturing industry.
IIOT CONNECTING ALL MODULES
Industrial Internet of Things, a sub-category of Internet of Things, focuses on applications and machines in industrial domains, networked via the internet. This seamless innovation, in manufacturing, allows connection of devices and integration of data and intelligence across all the channels and modules of a manufacturing unit. Besides downsizing human interaction, it also ensures faster and increased productivity, less defective products, real-time communication and exchange of data, and generation of intelligent insights. IIoT keeps the unit hyper-connected, enabling a panoramic visibility of the supply chain and hence, transparent operations.
MACHINE LEARNING & AI DRIVEN PERFECTION
Businesses continue to scale unprecedented heights that demand operations and actions beyond human grasp. This situation calls for the deployment of modern hyper-efficient AI-led technologies, from which manufacturing units may leverage powerful data processing and predictive analytic capabilities. AI and machine learning proves substantial in problem solving, product quality evaluation, identification of anomalies, managing inventory, and ensuring timely supply. AI-enriched smart-sensor technology, real-time insights, predictive maintenance, and demand forecasting impart an effortless experience. The AI market in the US alone is predicted to reach 118 billion USD by 2025, from 14 billion USD in 2019. Backed by this monumental innovation, businesses can achieve newer levels of perfection.
ROBOTIC PROCESS AUTOMATION BOOSTING PRODUCTIVITY
Today, we stand amid the fourth industrial revolution, steered ahead by automation. Robots have been driving change in the manufacturing sector since the 1960s with their revolutionary capabilities powering sizeable outputs in automotive, plastic processing, semiconductor, pharmaceutical and several other industries. Robotic Process Automation function with unparalleled agility and precision, enhancing efficiency and automation by about 60 percent. It dexterously outpaces human ability at untangling and simplifying complex manual chores, accelerating productivity and workflow. Monotonous tasks are repeatedly performed without shedding quality. Also, existing processes like data collection, transmission and evaluation are augmented and improved under robotics-led management.
Unlike industrial robots, collaborative robots or Cobots are designed to work alongside humans. Cobots are smart investments for the fact that they are user-friendly, less expensive, easily programmable, highly flexible, and collaborate with human workers rather than replacing them.
MIXED REALITY AS A VERSATILE TOOL
The Mixed reality innovation endorsed by Microsoft Dynamics 365 has the extraordinary potential to boost progress and efficiency in manufacturing, as well as to transform the working and learning culture in factories. Factories leverage the power of mixed reality to streamline onboarding and training programs where the new employees could be guided and trained without the physical presence of an expert the whole time. Similarly, technicians could be guided through virtual environments to perform maintenance. Mixed reality can warrant safety in workplaces through the creation of virtual prototypes or digital twins for machinery, thereby identifying flaws and defects at every stage of manufacturing that could instantly be rectified. This also goes a long way towards cutting expenses.
Utilizing the app Dynamics 365 Remote Assist for mixed reality, the technicians can also venture into a virtual hands-free experience using a HoloLens 2 headset to navigate through customer details, product information and history, etc., using voice commands and hand-gestures. Mixed reality is a highly potential technology that has a foreseeable future, critical to the growth of a business.
In the business world, user experience and customer satisfaction are everything. However advanced and versatile the technology may be, if they fail to win the customers’ confidence, they (the customers) move ahead with alternative choices. Therefore, manufacturers seek solutions that help them deliver flexible, agile, responsive, transparent, and efficient user-experiences. AI powered smart sensors and intelligence tools that come under sophisticated solutions address these requirements. Keeping customer-engagement in mind, manufacturers employ intelligent sensors to predict and analyze customer behavior, the most favored features, and the degree of satisfaction. This enables them to upscale their quality and service persistently ensuring customer retention.
The future of manufacturing relies heavily on smart digital solutions capable of functioning with increased agility, dexterity, and flexibility, minimizing a great deal of time and money. The good news is that the digital revolution is powering through stronger than ever with intelligent and resilient solutions like Microsoft Dynamics 365, that are empowered to navigate businesses through new realms of possibilities.