Be it the factory floor or the manufacturing unit, the decision-making business boardroom or the logistics truck…… digital disruption has enhanced the end-to-end pre and post production segments of the manufacturing sector.
Industry 4.0 have made manufacturers initiate and realize an overall transformation architecture across the factory process— as a report said, digital transformation that doesn’t remove the human brain or work ethic, but that maximises it according to modern day economic strains and market expectations.
Industry 4.0 is predicted to lead to the creation of “smart factories” that will self-manage processes and issues, modernizing conventional factories that previously used offline systems with little to no inter-connectivity. Manufacturing execution systems (MES) were a common way to determine the running and functioning of factories. The concept will therefore have to evolve to avoid being left behind.
Jake Callaway, Managing Director, MENA at 4C, “The driving force behind the digital transformation of the manufacturing sector is the need to enhance customer experiences and services. There are several technology areas that must be explored to achieve this, and among these is CRM. It can help keep track of any warranty, repair, or service issues and manage day-to- day questions, inquiries and service calls. Going beyond these capabilities, the right CRM solution can analyse data such as recurring orders and seasonal variations, to aid with forecasting and planning.” According to a 2016 PwC report, 62% of Middle East organisations expect to have advanced levels of digitisation and integration by 2021. While this indicates a strong appetite in the region for Industry 4.0, it is worth pointing out that the transition from initial pilot stage to the large-scale roll-out of an Industry 4.0 and digital transformation project is no easy task. In its “Digital Manufacturing Global Expert Survey 2018”, McKinsey highlights how even successful pilot projects often fail to make it into everyday industrial life.
Mansoor Sarwar, Regional Technical Director at Sage Middle East says, “The manufacturing industry worldwide has been forced to reinvent itself to compete in the fourth digital revolution, through a major overhaul of key business processes across the entire value chain. In a factory of the future, connected assets will have to be deployed to collect large swaths of data and seek further process improvements. By placing data in the center of all processes, a smart factory will have increased speed, agility efficiency, and room to innovate.”
INTEGRATION OF THE SUPPLY CHAIN
Companies are reliant on their supply chain network, which takes its unique shape depending on the operational needs of the company. Industry 4.0 aids in the creation of a ‘smart factory’ which connects supply network with logistics capabilities, and informs planning and inventory processes, along with numerous other capabilities. The latter enables organizations to know things they didn’t know before.
Aaron White, Regional Director, Middle East at Nutanix says, “For organizations with resources deployed across many edge locations beyond the reach of corporate datacenters—such as production facilities, distribution centers, and other remote and branch offices—there are even more benefits to be gained from intelligent cloud integration.”
He adds that, embracing cloud technology will be essential in enabling manufacturers to deliver customized products with shorter delivery times. Success will be underpinned by three technology imperatives that every manufacturer must contend with:
- IoT. The Internet of Things can improve operational efficiency, decrease maintenance costs, and generate new service revenues.
- Artificial Intelligence. Manufacturing organizations are turning to big data analytics and AI in the form of machine learning and deep learning to enhance all aspects of their operations.
- Automation. Advanced automation is transforming everything from the supply chain to the manufacturing floor, to distribution, to ordering.
Digital technology impacts consumer interaction with a company’s products and services. The latter creates an array of supply chain-related challenges and opportunities, which can be improved using Industry 4.0 solutions. “From managing supply chains more efficiently to tracking inventories, a cloud-based enterprise resource solution can help create opportunities to connect factory managers to distributors, allowing an easier flow of information and increased efficiencies,” says Mansoor.
Manufacturer companies are turning to IoT to connect and gather data from a wide variety of equipment and sensors across production facilities, distribution centers, transportation equipment, offices and other locations to deliver a competitive advantage in an increasingly wired and data-intensive world. By gathering and analyzing data in a more comprehensive way, companies can improve productivity and efficiency in production processes and supply chains. Many manufacturers are also extending these benefits to products that have been deployed by customers. For example, a maker of agricultural equipment might use IoT data received from customer machinery to enable predictive maintenance, improving customer satisfaction and customer engagement, while also increasing service revenue.
According to SAGE, Manufacturing is one of the earlier industries to have adopted AI technology as industrial robots, reducing accident rates, making manufacturing plants much safer. Sage’s enterprise software solutions have also incorporated artificial intelligence including Chat Bots to help make smart manufacturing smarter, more knowledgeable, efficient, and profitable. To make the most of Industry 4.0 including AI and Machine Learning, Sage continues to build better and tighter integrations with industry leading AI tools for Manufacturing including significant investment in Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).
FROM BEST TO NEXT
However, it is important to remember that simply having technology in place for technologies sake will never be enough. Manufacturers must continue to innovate and create value from their investments in solving business problems or enabling new offerings.
Andy Coussins, Head of International, Epicor Software says, “Industry 4.0 solutions will affect a wide number of different business areas, so everyone involved must be able to participate in making decisions on the viability of any proposed innovation-driven change. Enabling these joint decisions means everyone in the decision-making circle will need cross-departmental access to all relevant data and a consolidated view of all relationships and consequences. Today’s integrated ERP systems are key to enabling these vital decision-support capabilities. Centrally capturing and analysing information from operational, finance and corporate management areas of the business, these platforms make it possible to identify dependencies and model different scenarios. This ensures that decisions can be made using comprehensive and reliable data that is supported by all parties involved.”
“While obtaining data quickly and easily is crucial, it is only part of the notion of Data Democratization. After a user has obtained the data, they have to be able to utilize it just as easily. This is supported by the use of innovative methods that enable business associates and subject matter experts to leverage complex analytics without data scientists and without continual IT enablement. For example, a Logistics Director from the same Food & Beverage manufacturer wants to track his route delivery trucks. He can connect to IoT sensors in less than three minutes and set up a geo-fenced dashboard with alerts when trucks enter an area in less than five minutes by using a graphical user interface with easy to configure smart rules. At the same time, the company’s production engineers can improve overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) by testing production improvement hypotheses, monitoring production equipment in real time and creating predictive alerts without Data Scientists,” said Sean T. Riley, Global Industry Director, Manufacturing & Transportation, Software AG.
According to Swisslog, the intralogistics processes that support manufacturing, in many cases, look exactly like they did 40 years ago. The processes for receiving, storing and transporting materials and parts to and from the various stages of manufacturing continue to use the same legacy systems and processes that have been in place for decades. “This is partly because manufacturing automation has been an all-consuming proposition for businesses here. With all available resources focused on manufacturing, production intralogistics processes were left behind. In addition, until recently, the intralogistics solutions available for enhancing material control and movement were often expensive and inflexible. They were difficult to adapt to new model launches and product changeovers and therefore posed a business risk,” says Alain Kaddoum, General Manager, Swisslog Middle East.
THE FUTURE OF AUTOMATION
In the 1970s, the introduction of automation and robotics ushered a new era, the third industrial revolution Industrial automation has brought about major advantages for companies and economies alike. Such as demonstrating increased productivity as mechanised equipment is not likely to tire or take breaks and will usually outperform humans in production operations and efficiency. This subsequently leads to reduced production time and increased levels of output.
According to Nutanix, the opportunities for automation across various types of manufacturing are almost endless. Some companies are even evaluating the potential for factories that are 100% automated, with environmental conditions optimized for machines not humans.
While Industry 3.0 focused on the automation of single machines and processes, Industry 4.0 focuses on the end-to-end digitization of all physical assets and integration into digital ecosystems with value chain partners.