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Smart manufacturing is a term gaining a lot of interest these days, and with good reason. The capability to digitally connect to the physical world is providing manufacturers a greater degree of insight into manufacturing operations, enabling firms to proactively manage their assets and thus improve productivity. IDC's 2015 Vertical IT and Communications Survey found that over 43 percent of those surveyed planned to research and/or invest in smart manufacturing (using IoT and sensors with analytics to improve factory performance) in 2015.
Smart manufacturing creates the linkage between the manufacturing value chain and aligns this to the manufacturing shop floor through the use of sensors, connectivity, analytics, reporting and dashboards. This is especially impactful relative to industrial assets, as data is collected regarding machinery usage, performance and conditions in real time. The collection of this data allows industrial manufacturing firms to leverage advanced analytics to better connect with and understand the state of its assets, which in turn enables industrial manufacturing firms to improve asset performance in several key areas, including:
Predictive Maintenance - Connected assets combined with advanced analytics enables industrial manufacturing firms to schedule and perform maintenance ahead of a failure. Such proactive asset maintenance helps to reduce unscheduled downtime and drive up asset productivity.
Optimized Asset Utilization - Advanced analytics and a connected manufacturing floor allow for a better understanding of asset performance. By better understanding performance of an asset and the needs of the manufacturing process, industrial manufacturing firms are driving improved asset performance and being rewarded with greater productivity out of the manufacturing process.
Alignment Between Production and SC Planning/Execution - Smart manufacturing can deliver visibility of shop floor capacities directly to the supply chain organization responsible for planning and executing the supply chain. The effect of such alignment can help industrial manufacturing firms to make better decisions and investments which will subsequently improve overall supply chain performance and help to drive cost savings and profitability.
Improved Product Quality - Connected assets can help to drive product quality through the automation of product data capture and analysis during the manufacturing process. With this data, the manufacturing firm is better positioned to minimize product variance and respond more rapidly to changes in output quality resulting in greater quality of product.
The Internet of Things, sensors, and advanced analytics are helping to shape the future of industrial manufacturing. Connecting the physical world with the digital world enables industrial manufacturing firms to increase their understanding of the manufacturing process and drive improvements in process, quality, productivity and asset utilization.
We are in the midst of a once in a lifetime industrial transformation which will help the industrial manufacturing industry take the next leap in performance, productivity and profitability. As we move forward into 2016 and beyond, expect to see a sharp increase in investments in smart manufacturing technology, IoT and advanced analytics by industrial manufacturing firms seeking to capitalize on the value of a connected manufacturing environment.
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