February 8, 2018

What’s next for manufacturing in a smarter society?

Rory Moore

Head of Industrial Services, Tieto

We stand at the precipice of a new revolution in the manufacturing sector. Digitalization will transform the way goods and services are manufactured in a smarter society, in a manner quite unlike anything we have seen before.

Here’s one scenario. Visualize a production line where each machine is able to run autonomously, learn continuously and apply logic to its functions.  It will be able to attend to the task at hand and cope seamlessly with any variables that might affect the quality of production. And in case of problems like having to use inferior raw materials, it can alert the other machines on the assembly line to take steps to deal with the problem. All this without human intervention and in the most efficient manner possible 

At the cutting edge 

Are we being too optimistic? Hardly. The hardware and software needed are only becoming better. While smart sensors exist, work on the next generation of advanced sensors that can collect data on virtually any parameter is already underway. Once they are introduced, it will result in the availability of a colossal amount of high-quality data. This will enable machine manufacturers to deliver advanced services around their equipment that facilitates a more complex manufacturing eco-system. 

On the software side, the march of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has made the analysis of all this data much easier, enabling companies to create data models that will make the manufacturing process more efficient.  

While that’s good, at Tieto, we believe that this is only scratching the surface. 

Over the next few years, the next big change in the manufacturing sector will be driven by Edge technology which will take optimization and automation to the next level. Today, the data collected is being sent to the cloud, analyzed, and then sent to the user. The new technology will see machines collecting, analyzing and applying this data directly. The emergence of Edge technology will enable complex analytics to be performed in real-time on the machine. This will reduce the reliance on data bandwidth to the cloud.  

For instance, a wind turbine can generate up to 5 Terabytes of data per day while a connected oil rig can generate up to 10 Terabytes of data per day.  The advantages of being able to process this data on the Edge without having to send everything to the cloud, are simply huge! 

This, in turn, accelerates the concept of self-learning autonomous machines, which may end up allowing entire assembly lines to be changed in a matter of hours, even enabling them to apply upgrades and design updates without interrupting production.  

The future is all about decentralization 

The use of such advanced tools along with the ongoing evolution of technologies such as 3D printing will lead to the creation of ‘plug-and-play factories’ that can produce virtually any product under the sun. We foresee the evolution of the 'prosumer' whereby rather than purchasing a product, we as consumers may be able to access the design and 3D print the product ourselves at home. This means a major business model shift will need to happen for today's manufacturers if they are to continue earning revenue from their Intellectual Property.  

The manufacturing process itself will become decentralized, with several factories coming together to aggregate their production capabilities to meet increased output demands.  

The potential is enormous. This is perhaps why the manufacturing sector, which has traditionally been conservative, is today scrambling to digitalize. Tieto is working with a number of organizations to help them through this transformation and also assisting them on the correct business models to deploy. 

In the 1900s, the Ford company transformed manufacturing by establishing the first modern assembly line. Over a 100 years later, the stage for the next big change has been set. It is now up to the manufacturing sector to get on board or risk becoming obsolete.  

What is a smarter society?

The value of the smarter society comes in many flavorsTieto’s ambition is to utilize our expertise to continue shaping a smarter society, one which anticipates the needs of the people in every phase of their lives. For more insights and examples on how we are doing this, visit our web page. 

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