Change is as inevitable as death and taxes. Change, in fact, is the driver of those two certainties. If changes in health due to age, genes, and environment don’t get you first, a speeding semi might. And the ever-changing nature of vocation, the economy, even family has a dramatic effect on your tax status every year. Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives. The key to dealing with change is acknowledging it, adapting to it, and making it work for you.
Industrial Revolution Redefined
Over the course of last two-hundred-some-odd years, the human race has evolved from what started as mostly static farm life that hadn’t changed all that much in a couple thousand years, to something that isn’t all that far off from what we dreamed in Back to the Future II. This rapid acceleration of technology kicked off in the mid 18th century with the original Industrial Revolution and has iterated upon itself to bring us to where we stand today amidst a burgeoning Industry 4.0. As such, cyber-physical systems (CPS), the industrial internet of things (IIoT), and advanced machine-to-machine communications have elevated automation to new heights that would seem straight out of an old sci-fi flick from the ’80s. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning serve as the brains of this new tech, making sense of all the data we now have at our disposal, making global-scale manufacturing processes more manageable, faster, and smarter than ever before. These kinds of changes aren’t akin to death and taxes; the human race has hit the lottery.
Smart Manufacturing Benefits Available Today
The benefits of progress are sometimes hard to see or visualize. Kudos to Back to the Future II for coming within an acceptable margin of error to something resembling the early 21st century, flying cars notwithstanding. Other films of its time — they were quite a bit further off the mark. As COVID-19 taught us, it’s hard enough seeing the immediate future. Fear not, though, as companies such as ThinkIQ can help illuminate the real benefits companies stand to gain from smart manufacturing and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Here are just seven.
- Less Downtime
One of the foundational pieces of smart manufacturing is the interconnectivity of machines, devices, sensors, and people. This new layer can be used to monitor integrity in manufacturing processes, including predictive maintenance. Utilizing CPS and machine-to-machine communication, real-time data is gathered from the shop floor to identify machine degradation through early warning signs and declining performance. Considering organizations spend 80 percent of their time reacting to issues rather than proactively preventing them, there is certainly a lot of ground to gain.
- Lower Costs
More than 27,000 product recalls have been reported worldwide across 1,700 categories. The average cost of a product recall is close to $10 million but can balloon past $100 million. The FDA reported 212 recalls in 2019. Food recalls cost companies $10 million per recall on average. With smart manufacturing, however, these astronomical losses become very avoidable. ThinkIQ has produced 99.999 percent elimination of recalls. We’ve saved companies tens of millions of dollars in operational savings yearly through greater manufacturing efficiency that can double production yield, reduce waste, and allow reductions to warranty reserves. Not too shabby.
- Increased Safety
There is an added cost to the aforementioned machine degradation on the shop floor. In 2019, 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported. Preventative maintenance doesn’t just save companies dollars and cents, it reduces injuries to your living, breathing workforce. Augmented reality and human-machine interaction (HMI) technologies also go a long way in ensuring human safety and reducing physical demand.
- Faster Decision Making
The more data at your disposal, the faster you can move — as long as you have the intelligence to process and take action on that data. ThinkIQ uses a granular, contextualized view of material flows and related attribute data that transcends farm-to-fork and integrates into existing IIoT infrastructures. The impact is a smarter, self-correcting ecosystem that is agile beyond the range of human capability.
- More Affordable Design and Engineering
As smart manufacturing works its magic to reduce day-to-day demand on the human workforce, those resources can be redirected back toward design and engineering innovation. Collaborative virtual factory (CVF) platforms make use of digital models and simulations for virtual prototyping, speeding the evaluation and decision-making process before a real product is produced. These innovations can further streamline the supply chain, distribution chains, and manufacturing processes.
- Reduced Lead Times
AI and machine learning serve as the analytics and execution engine driving a hodgepodge of disparate systems. Combined with powerful scripting and scalability, the decentralization of decision-making and technical assistance on difficult or unsafe tasks, companies are able to expedite production processes and save on energy consumption.
- Greater Mobility
By pulling workers away from the physical tasks, they are able to move about the production floor to access systems data and inspect equipment more freely. The global connectivity between physically separate machines also enhances the ability to share data and learnings — historical data through MES and ERP, for instance — and increase efficiency across worldwide like never before.
Even at this relatively early stage of Industry 4.0 smart manufacturing, it is already capable of quite a bit, and companies such as ThinkIQ have only just begun to scratch the surface. Get in touch with a ThinkIQ expert today and let’s talk about all the futuristic advancements your business can achieve right now or you can download our new eBook titled "Advanced Material Traceability Revolutionizes Digital Transformation"