In a Manufacturing factory setup, IT systems provide end-to-end technology support while the Operational Technologies (OT) help in monitoring, controlling machinery, other equipment and tools. With Industry 4.0, greater connectivity has helped strengthen OT by leveraging the capabilities of IoT. Further, powered by cloud technologies, big data and analytics, factories have become more intelligent when compared to their conventional models.
According to PTC, real-time operational insights result in 5-8% of productivity improvement.With intelligent factories, we witness a dramatic increase in the number of data sources constantly updating details about both – the customer order data (demand), and the production data (supply). Greater data visibility helps in better demand forecasting, effective capacity planning, improved order fulfilment, reduced opportunity loss, prevents excess production, prevents wastage and optimizes storage cost.
A challenge for a majority of manufacturers is legacy systems, which are not easily replaceable, and integration of these systems with modern technologies has not been easy until few years ago. Today, advanced cloud-based technologies coupled with remote sensing devices have simplified the IT-OT integration required for modernization.
Converting legacy machines into “smart” machines by installing sensors and enabling connectivity helps in capturing near accurate real-time data of machines. Additionally, HMI devices, hand-held scanners and kiosks speed up the production and reporting processes through automation. The collected data, fed into ERP solutions, production planning, supply chain, PLM and CRM systems, improve visibility across the organization, and thereby generate actionable insights. Hence, improve the overall plant performance, safety and efficiency, by closely monitoring plant equipment and workforce.
Real-time insights also open doors for upcoming technologies in factories like virtual assistant, field services, maintenance services, digital twin etc. Wearable devices like smart watches, smart helmets and smart glasses are gradually blending with the shop floor environment, offering workers greater safety and control over production lines. One of the latest inclusions in OT is voice-enabled service that allows workers to control equipment, fetch information through speech, and experience a contactless work environment. With effective noise cancellation algorithms and the use of real-time data, these technologies are challenging the traditional practices of working, by significantly improving worker productivity.
Finally, supervisors and executives benefit greatly from dashboards that reflect real-time details about essential shop floor components on a single pane of glass. These displays constantly monitor equipment and other assets’ performance, facilitating timely identification of faulty or non-performing assets, reporting machine breakdown and automatically assigning tickets to available personnel. Therefore, this helps key decision-makers to improve OEE, increase productivity, reduce asset downtime and breakdown, increase asset utilization and prevent outages.
Manufacturers are struggling to keep themselves at par with their competitors. Adoption of modern technologies are witnessing an ever-increasing rate when compared to earlier days. Leaders know what happens in the next industrial revolution and they are preparing hard to stay ready to welcome the next wave.