THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION OR Industry 4.0 is seeing the convergence of Information Technology and Operating Technology (OT). Within IT, lines between applications and infrastructure are blurring in the cloud era. Connectivity is ubiquitous and cheap, while computing power has gone up manifold. Simultaneously, the cost of robotic systems has come down and their versatility has gone up.
The top 10 technologies at the heart of smart manufacturing that are gaining maturity include Internet of Things (IoT), smart sensors, cloud, big data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), industrial robotics, digital twins, 3D printing, augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR), and cyber-security.
“Leaders across the industry are adopting smart manufacturing to gain efficiencies right from the factory floor to the consumer. Manufacturing systems are being upgraded to increase shop-floor productivity, reduce time-to-market, improve quality, enhance workplace safety, and gain real-time visibility into operations,” says Ganesh Kalyanaraman, global delivery head for manufacturing, llogistics, energy and utilities, Cognizant.
Siba Prasad, senior engineering manager, AM- ETEK Instruments India, adds, “Smart manufacturing involves harnessing data; data will tell us “what to do” and “when to do it.” It creates a platform for data collection and sharing with all major resources and uses all intelligence technologies to take smart decision. It connects starting from a small sensor, machines, lines, PLC’s (Programmable Logic Controller),HMI’s (Human Machine Interface), SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data acquisition systems), MES (Manufacturing Execution System), ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), PLM (Product Life Cycle Management), and supply chain.”
Also, by incorporating smart sensors and IIOT (Industrial Internet of Things), today manufacturing can reach quality levels with zero defect. It is today’s reality that legacy manufacturing systems are transitioning to smart, connected, automated systems for improving efficiency and costs.
Data is collected to gather insights that drive best practices and improvements. "Striving for accuracy is core to predictive intelligence, not only to lower costs but also to use energy and materials efficiently, which contributes to building a sustainable future. This is the crux of what we call modern manufacturing. Sensors enabled by IoT and embedded in the system, automate the process of data collection and have the potential to capture every detail. Sensors feed data to machines that crunch the data, to gather insights into where improvements can be made. This machine-to-machine communication and analytics capacity speeds up and scales production – enhancing the ability to compete," avers Sekaran Letchumanan, vice president, operations, Flex India.
Robots are now making their appearance felt in the technology world. New process automation software incorporating artificial intelligence tools are poised to bring similar productivity enhancement to workflow management, especially handling heavy data tasks including communications such as email, data entry and regulatory compliance.
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