The promise of Industry 4.0 within the manufacturing industry in particular – which increases competitiveness and boosts profits and productivity through breakthrough technology – can only be realized when manufacturers embrace artificial intelligence (AI) , machine vision, machine learning, cobots, cloud architecture, data, and more. These aren’t just nice perks to have; these are indispensable capabilities that define the future of the industry.
This “future” is based on software-defined manufacturing, which builds a foundation of both logic and intelligence in software rather than hardware to solve persistent problems that have plagued the industry for years. These issues range from expensive and inflexible equipment that impacts bottom lines, economically and environmentally damaging operational processes, and mundane, manual tasks on the assembly line that deter new talent from entering the industry. manufacturing. Nearly 58% of respondents in a report of Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute said they felt manufacturing jobs had limited career prospects.
Now, with software-defined manufacturing that leverages AI, adaptive robotics, and cloud-based architecture, smart manufacturing can become the new reality. This means manufacturers can more easily configure, replicate and scale automation in their factories to break down barriers and seize new opportunities. Plus, their technology naturally gets even smarter and more automated over time to create a resilient business that can navigate the complexity of today and tomorrow with ease.
The Benefits of Software Defined Manufacturing
Technology has advanced rapidly over the past two decades, and the COVID-19 pandemic has been a wake-up call for manufacturers that haven’t kept up. Between being caught with inflexible operations that couldn’t pivot as demand rose and fell and overseas operations that were hit hard by shutdowns and transportation delays, it’s never been clearer that factories enabled by intelligent automation solutions are the way forward.
Here’s what life is like for manufacturers who choose to invest in innovation and take action to build their business for short- and long-term success:
- Greater labor opportunities: Factory-built AI, robotics and machine vision solutions are appealing to both new and existing talent. Indeed, today’s workforce is genuinely interested in jobs that can turn into careers – ones that reduce or eliminate mundane assembly line tasks and replace them with cutting-edge solutions that can improve their skills and advance their careers. To that, the report from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute found that 64% of consumers now see manufacturing as innovative, up from 39% five years ago. Progress is being made as new technologies are adopted, but there is still room for improvement. Those who choose to close or relocate their factories also create new opportunities within local communities. People who may have had limited access to exciting jobs now have the opportunity to learn and grow alongside modern technology. Along with today’s software that makes it easier to adopt and adapt to a new, advanced reality, manufacturers that offer upskilling and retraining programs to make this possible will have a better rate of success in retaining current employees. and attract strong new talent. like almost 45% of industrial executives had to turn down business opportunities due to a lack of workers, the business benefit of creating greater labor opportunities is obvious.
- Improvements in flexibility and profitability: When manufacturers decide to move from outdated, disparate systems that don’t provide real-time information to an intelligent automation solution, they can produce more products at lower cost and higher quality, uncover areas of operational optimization and evolve faster than ever. Traditional automation, designed for throughput and repeatability, worked for so long because commands and requirements didn’t change as frequently. Now demand ebbs and flows; customer expectations are constantly changing and no one can predict exactly how the market will react to a new product. Offering flexible automation solutionsrapid and efficient deployment, easy diagnosis of problems, and refocusing the line for product pivots so manufacturers can adapt to today’s demands, grow the business and create a more resilient operation.
- Sustainable operations: The carbon footprint required to transport goods around the world is huge, with international transport being responsible for 33% of global trade-related emissions. With this, manufacturers are understandably feeling increasing pressure to create more sustainable practices – to reduce waste, minimize footprints and localize production where possible. A software-defined manufacturing approach allows companies to accomplish this difficult task with less stress and guesswork. Digitizing local factories, for example, dramatically shortens the supply chain, minimizes transport dependency and reduces waste. Manufacturers can scale up or down production to meet local demand so they don’t waste time, materials, or energy producing unnecessary materials or products.