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When we think of digital transformation, we typically imagine it revolving around apps and websites. But much more has changed in the world of manufacturing.
New technologies such as the Internet of Things, machine learning and artificial intelligence are creating new challenges and opportunities for manufacturers. This new landscape presents tremendous opportunities for manufacturers who are serious about reaching their innovation and growth goals.
Working with machines is not easy
Anyone who’s worked in a manufacturing environment will recognize the peculiarities of machines. Processes like installing and configuring equipment are often long-winded and require a substantial amount of information.
Systems are often complex, and unexpected behaviours occur at the worst possible time. Sometimes, maintaining the status quo can seem like an insurmountable task.
Data is abundant, putting insights in reach
But with a market dominated by two overarching themes — data and automation — it’s clear that digital transformation is coming at scale. With new systems focused on orchestration, big data, and analytics, more manufacturers are turning to machine learning to unlock new levels of efficiency, deliver actionable insights, and engage employees at speed.
Machine learning is really at the heart of a future where machines can tackle more complex scenarios than just assembling parts.
For example, if your manufacturing is stuck on the details of interpreting thermal photography, automating and educating your workforce could provide an early warning of faults in older systems — enabling you to address issues before they happen and making it easy for companies to maximize the value of their assets.
In many cases manufacturers are already properly equipped to analyze their factories. Take for example Fero Labs. In an Intel case study, it was shown that this steel manufacturer has 12,000 sensors installed in their mill, while only using a tiny fraction of them.
With ever-decreasing sensor costs, it’s almost certain that any new equipment will come equipped with tools to measure machine metrics. And this data can be tapped for a better understanding of how your operation is performing.
Keep on the path
The challenge for manufacturers is to succeed and be successful while being pragmatic, highly flexible, and importantly, reducing their dependency on external parties. It’s difficult to ignore the challenges associated with developing new technologies and programs and it is crucial to bring these into a shared research environment.
For many manufacturers, improvement has always been a never-ending journey. Armed with new data that can drive better insights, their job has been made a little bit easier.
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