You cannot deny that information technology helps us work smarter. For instance, with technology, we can decrease labor needs and costs through greater access to information, which enables informed and timely decision-making, among many other things.
Courtesy of information technology, manufacturers are now able to collect information from devices such as sensors and use analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to garner valuable insights. In doing so, companies identify new business opportunities, streamline their operations and increase efficiencies.
As the traditional models of production change, they pave the way for new emerging technologies, such as smart manufacturing and “industry 4.0.” Both of these focus on how businesses in manufacturing can tap into the power of digitization to produce goods more safely and efficiently.
Factories are now increasingly implementing information technology solutions in their day-to-day operations. And simply put, this trend isn’t changing anytime soon. According to the research firm BI Intelligence, the number of connected machines within the manufacturing environment will increase from 237 million in 2015 to around 923 million by 2020.
Here are some of the ways I.T. helps you work smarter, not harder in manufacturing:
#1: Effective Data Collection and Analysis
Cameras, smartphones, tablets, and sensors are some of the devices that manufacturing firms are utilizing to collect data or information for their operations. Enhanced reader technologies and wireless sensors have the ability to track a product right from the field to production or any other area in the plant to guarantee consumers get the highest quality products.
Sensors, for example, are one of the main technologies in manufacturing. Their primary function is to transmit and gather data, often remotely. They use instruments that detect vibration, optical, magnetic, electrochemical, chemical, and electrical signals.
Sensor technology continues to expand rapidly as the cost declines while accuracy and reliability improve.
Boasting wireless capabilities, sensors can transmit data in the same moment as it is collected, thus making it possible to react to data in real-time as well as in specific locations.
Another example is robotics. Fully automated robots accomplish data gathering tasks within a fraction of the time that entire teams of technicians usually take when using conventional manual methods of gathering data. Their lightweight and adjustable frames are tailored to accommodate several digital cameras and sensors that break down to smaller units for effortless transport.
Sensors and robots are just two of the methods that modern manufacturers are using to harness the power of data to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and increase production.
#2: Identify and Fix Problems Quickly
An effective way of becoming more productive and efficient is by increasing the pace of solving problems. By investing in technology that not only identifies but also solves problems fast, manufacturing companies can have the upper hand over their competitors.
It’s common for computers to detect problems by closely monitoring continuous data streams, looking for deviations from expected, predicted, or standard results.
With a centralized analytics system, a company can manage to track sales and store inventory or any other information at any of its plants.
If the system notices a huge difference in terms of sales of a certain item, it immediately alerts analysts who review the data to determine the reason. Computers can drill down through vast amounts of data and choose small problems, which normally go undetected when handling huge quantities of data.
Information technology enables devices used in manufacturing to connect and exchange data. This facilitates enhanced integration of plant processes and achievement of higher levels of productivity, thus taking manufacturing to a higher level of production.
#3: Supplier Selection and Management
Players in the manufacturing industry are increasingly shifting away from the vertical integration business model to one that relies on suppliers and service providers for key functions.
For instance, a farmer might hire a pesticide manufacturing company to spray crops when needed, a seedling manufacturing company to provide transplants and a fertilizer manufacturing company for fertilizers. Virtually every permutation of such a scenario happens across the entire industry.
More than ever, the manufacturing sector is utilizing software to analyze data, track operations, and manage vendors as well as communication needs. Using tech in supplier selection and management goes miles in helping companies determine their best partnership options.
#4: Improving Safety
If you’re a player in the manufacturing sector, you understand the importance of safety within the workplace. In fact, it’s surely among your top concerns. For this reason, manufacturing companies are always looking for different ways to improve and maintain safety at their plant.
With connected devices and IoT sensors, early detection of faulty systems is possible, which can help prevent injuries to employees who would’ve otherwise been completely unaware of an unsafe work environment.
I.T. and technology, in general, make it very much possible to monitor everything via video analysis. Alternatively, companies can give their employees sensors that provide an array of readings to flag and detect any anomalies the second they arise.
For instance, some manufacturing companies are now using smart helmets to monitor their employee’s humidity, heart rate, temperature or any other important details to help them avoid things such as heat stroke. Technology offers employees additional layers of security and safeguards in nearly any situation.
#5: Operational Efficiency
For manufacturers not employing technology in their operations, there’s little transparency regarding the supply chain process.
Every process in manufacturing takes time, including checking every product as it is developed for efficiency and quality to meet deadlines or required quotas. Analyzing IoT data in real-time enables plants to work smarter, not harder.
Visualization tools provide companies with greater transparency into manufacturing processes in order to offer a holistic view of how well the entire production schedule and facility is functioning. It also enables a company to monitor its assets and predict and prevent machine failures, which helps to avoid major production delays or operation issues.
The use of artificial intelligence and advanced analytics helps to optimize production processes. Whenever factories implement networks designed to share information throughout the organization, the available data surges.
If your manufacturing plant is digital, operators use data insights to not only identify prospective production losses but also act accordingly to balance throughput, cost, and quality. The result? Higher yield, less waste, and fewer disruptions.
#6: Autonomous Self-Healing Systems
Presently, a good number of manufacturers address equipment failures or production issues as they arise. The drawback of this approach is that it takes time, skills, and money.
With machine learning and IoT, it’s now possible to automate systems in a way that they smartly detect and address issues or hitches on their own without needing any human intervention.
The implication of self-healing technology on manufacturing is that it enables workers to attend to other mission-critical issues as the machines handle themselves.
#7: Workshop Monitoring
Technology can interlink enterprise information management systems and market-ready solutions. That way, manufacturers can automate the control of tech-enabled manufacturing activities in their plants. It becomes possible to access, identify, and control the manufacturing execution process.
This really helps in taking care of all scenarios from the commencement of production right to the delivery of products to consumers. Data from tech-enabled manufacturing processes becomes the product-related production input a plant needs to increase efficiency.
#8: Production Optimization
Manufacturing companies continue to face escalating pressures to innovate.
This is especially true in response to poor production quality. The costs related to poor quality are rising as manufacturers grapple with costly reworks and scrap. The costs associated with recalling faulty products are also on the rise. On top of that, the reputational impact is now more damaging than ever. Sadly, conventional inspection and quality control techniques are time-consuming, expensive, prone to error, and occasionally even risky.
Just as the imperative for quick development rises, conventional productivity levers become exhausted. In simple terms, conventional manufacturing processes can’t keep up with the huge demand, which makes them less cost-effective than newer methods.
Against this backdrop, manufacturers are now looking to tech-driven solutions. These solutions carry with them the following promises:
- Highlighting the best courses of action that will maximize performance.
- Bringing powerful insights that assist production managers in pinpointing production losses so they can be resolved.
Production optimization delivers three main capabilities:
- Predicting and pinpointing losses related to equipment and process.
- Analyzing root causes and testing alternative scenarios.
- Prescribing the best strategies for solving issues.
High-quality production usually needs a dependable, comprehensive, and swift inspection process. Modern tech-related solutions bring with them a 360-degree view to insights, inspection, and monitoring not only during manufacturing but also in maintenance and assembly processes.
These solutions are built to be versatile, thus enabling process engineers and data scientists to optimize throughput, quality, and costs.
#9: Predictive Analysis
The rise in cloud storage capabilities and computing power is changing how manufacturers operate mainly because of the power of big data.
Courtesy of improved data storage abilities, manufacturers are now able to amass vast amounts of data regarding marketing, customers, products and more that dwarf anything present on company servers in the previous decades.
Firms can leverage this data into strategic advantage partly because of predictive analytics.
Predictive analysis is the effective breakdown of big data to make forecasts and predictions for trends in customer behavior, future demand for products, and nearly every other aspect of business operations, from beginning to end.
Thanks to predictive analytics, manufacturing companies will know exactly when to manufacture products or goods to maximize profits. They can also know how to recognize big trends just as they’re starting to develop. It’s easier to jump on the bandwagon when you see it coming from a mile away!
Manufacturers can also use predictive analysis to understand the ideal time to replace machinery parts.
#10: Decentralized Digital Ledger (Blockchain Technologies)
Through blockchain technology, manufacturers can access, record, update and share data with users of a network.
This particular database works like a digital ledger of transactions that are always reconciled. The most notable thing is that this ledger isn’t stored within one single location—which means that there’s no centralized version anywhere that hackers can harm.
When it comes to manufacturing, blockchain creates smarter supply chains that are capable of tracking each detail of a product’s journey, offering precise audit trails as well as real-time visibility of each step within the supply chain. Through increased transparency, manufacturers can protect their operations from cyberattacks, counterfeiting, fraud, and theft.
Certainly, blockchain boasts the ability to drastically transform manufacturing in many ways. Nonetheless, manufacturers should evaluate whether it’s prudent to replace existing systems and infrastructure with blockchain.
What’s certain is that we shall continue to see the positive impact of blockchain in the manufacturing sector moving forward.
Technology accelerates! The explosion of hand-held devices and computers has increased analytical and computational capacities for less money than would have been possible even ten years ago.
Regardless of what you do, or the kind of business you run, you can take advantage of technology to accelerate and speed up the rate of operations through working smartly, not harder.
Information technology has simplified and made it convenient to run manufacturing processes. Information technology offers operators plenty of alternatives for replacing conventional practices or handling certain operational tasks that require direct labor input.
With scalable solutions from an experienced managed service provider, those who are limited in terms of budget can incorporate technology only in certain parts of their operations where they will have the most impact.
With technology built into every facet of production, manufacturing firms are able to acquire, store and analyze digital data that plays out across the entirety of the business. Outside the plant, information technology is helping manufacturers run their enterprises smartly through:
- Digital marketing.
- Electronic banking and payments.
- Online bookings, delivery processing and, appointments.
- Cloud documentation.
- Virtual meetings.
- Cloud computing and accounting.
JMARK has more than thirty years of experience in helping manufacturers use I.T. to take their business to the next level. To learn more about what our services and solutions can do for you, contact us here, or by emailing [email protected] or calling 844-44-JMARK.