Manufacturing, one of the oldest industries known to mankind, has gone through several transformational changes in every successive industrial revolution.

But none of these changes have been as sweeping or revolutionary as the impact digitization is making. The influence of a mobile, connected and on-demand consumer life style is placing huge evolutionary demands on an industry that was once defined by mass production at high efficiency and low cost.

Threats are emerging from unexpected dimensions: a ride sharing service like Uber can today pose an existential threat to a Honda or a Ford, by doing away with the need to own a car.

Cognitive Computing

A by-product of the easy availability of real time data, machine learning and artificial intelligence have the potential to transform manufacturing.  The application of advanced algorithms and availability of virtually limitless computing resources on the cloud have helped manufacturing organizations to take advantage of cognitive computing to increase productivity and optimize processes while reducing cost and complexity. What was once the domain of human experts, is now a scientific process where algorithms predict aspects such as reliability while enforcing strict quality control.

Data and Analytics

Organizational information that was previously in silos can now be efficiently used and integrated with data from multiple systems. From IoT to CRM to ERP and PLM, easy availability of data across all systems have enabled intelligent decision making at all levels in an organization. For example, aggregate information from IoT sensors can now be used to provide feedback to correct a manufacturing process, or to enforce better quality control from third party suppliers – all this while enhancing customer service and experience. Information can now be exchanged securely with business partners, which can amplify the positive impact. With cloud based visualization platforms, decision makers can access information on the go without any time lag.

Automation 4.0

While robots have been used in manufacturing for the past few decades, the combination of IoT and cognitive computing has led to robots that can optimize and modify processes in real time, while being able to learn from past errors. Today’s robots can perform far more precise tasks than their massive predecessors. This is also a self-reinforcing cycle, as more automation means more sensors, which provides a feedback loop to continually improve processes and maximize output.

Internet of Everything

Sensors are not new to manufacturing, but the advent of internet connected sensors, coupled with the ability to capture and analyse massive streams of real time data has provided the potential for massive cost savings through greater efficiency and instant feedback. What’s more, intelligence can be built into every day processes, reducing the need for human intervention. With data driven decision making and predictive analytics, greater scale and cost efficiencies, along with optimized inventory can be achieved in spite of mass customization.


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