Data-driven manufacturing challenges

Data-driven manufacturing challenges and the emergence of mass customization.


The Internet of Things (IoT) is here, with Internet-connected devices across the enterprise and consumer devices generating data that is constantly being captured, analyzed, and acted upon all around us. The insights gained from this data are allowing for many industries to be more efficient and productive, putting more pressure on operations staff to ensure they are staying ahead of the curve. However, the industry that is being asked to store the most data is often overlooked. Surprisingly, it's not health care, retail, or government-it's manufacturing.

The first Industrial Revolution was characterized by the mechanization of production using water and steam, the second by the introduction of mass production using electrical power, and the third by using information technology (IT) to automate production. However, most recently we've entered into the Fourth Industrial Revolution (also known as Industrial Internet of Things, or IIoT), which is characterized by Internet-connected devices that enable a new level of Big Data and analytics.

By 2020, Gartner predicts that the IoT will consist of 26 billion devices and will generate more than $300 billion in incremental revenue, the majority of which will be generated by services. We already know that the industrial manufacturing process creates a ton of data, and that more devices are becoming connected and networked.

As a result, we're seeing a massive explosion of data that has enabled new business models and practices to be put into place that are transforming the global manufacturing playing field and allowing organizations to compete on smarts, not costs. Because manufacturing is one of the largest economic drivers, this massive shift brought on by IIoT creates tremendous benefits even beyond the plant floor.

The emerging mass-customization model

For manufacturers, one of the biggest capabilities emerging from the rise of the IIoT is the mass customization of products and services. The appeal of mass customization is the potential to help manufacturers reduce costs and gain a competitive advantage in the market.

In the past, organizations that tried to accomplish this mass-customization model failed because the technology wasn't able to keep up. Instead, manufacturers focused on mass-production because it was most profitable to produce a large quantity of the same product.

However, today's technology is allowing manufacturers to slowly step away from the mass-production business model and move into the mass-customization one. Many of today's manufacturing systems are able to produce make-to-order products that are inexpensive and personalized, which is giving them a leg up over competitors.

In the manufacturing industry, it is not enough to be able to create branded or personalized items. For organizations to produce a wide range of unique products, they need to also create flexible automation processes, machines, and manufacturing systems integrated with business systems and consumers.

Essentially, manufacturers need to move beyond a process control system that has a "central brain" and understands everything about the assets in the factory, to a model where each asset knows everything about itself-and knows how, when, and why to communicate directly with other components of the manufacturing process not necessarily going through a central computer. By combining this business model shift with the data and insights gained from the machines, manufacturers are now able to empower a factory's assets to optimize their own productivity and efficiency within the broader context of the process control system. To put it simply, the plant assets need to become "smart."

Building the "Smart Factory"

Internet-enabled connectivity of devices and analytical capabilities have pushed forward new models of manufacturing. The development of self-organizing and -reporting systems that have moved away from centrally orchestrated processes to a more distrusted one is key. With the machines and other assets of a plant communicating independently of one another to make decisions, there is more room for flexibility-or customization of products and services. To achieve this new model of manufacturing, organizations need to think about what makes their assets smart.

For example, adding smart objects to your plant allows facility managers or engineers to create a digital model of physical assets within the virtual environment. These smart objects will now have the ability to attach to different data sources and access the information that is available on a particular asset.This data, combined with different dimensions and parameters in the context of one another, gives new and deeper insights into the performance of an asset.

Additionally, it is vital to have connectivity and accessibility with smart objects. Without a level of connectivity, smart objects are not able to be fully tapped into the framework of a factory, therefore they are not able to provide insights to those in the field or at the enterprise level of the organization. Building a fully connected network from the field to the enterprise that pulls insights from power, process, building management, and IT is essential to contextualizing data and making it both visible and accessible.

Finally, to actually be considered a Smart Factory, a facility needs to generate intelligence from its smart assets. This will allow for plants to move past the traditionally passive automation process to a more intelligent, semi-autonomous decision-making system. By adding intelligence to a control system, assets are better able to leverage their available data sources. Plant intelligence is helping to evolve the plant from managing production targets and quotas to managing profit performance.

Many manufacturers are being pressured to decrease their time-to-customer delivery, as well as offer more unique products with an unpredictable demand. The rise of IIoT and its impact on the creation of the Smart Factory is a huge win for this shift, allowing for the flexibility, automation, and data sharing needed to make the mass-customization business model a reality, in a cost-effective and efficient way.

Greg Conary is senior vice president of strategy for Schneider Electric.

The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
Doubling down on digital manufacturing; Data driving predictive maintenance; Electric motors and generators; Rewarding operational improvement
2017 Lubrication Guide; Software tools; Microgrids and energy strategies; Use robots effectively
Prescriptive maintenance; Hannover Messe 2017 recap; Reduce welding errors
The cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Research team developing Tesla coil designs; Implementing wireless process sensing
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; Paralleling switchgear generator systems
Natural gas engines; New applications for fuel cells; Large engines become more efficient; Extending boiler life

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me