Forget Talking — Just Let Us Click and Buy
The pressure is on the manufacturing industry to produce more, and manufacturers are quickly moving to advanced technologies to keep pace with customer demand. But receiving finished goods is only one part of the customer’s journey, and the life-cycle starts further upstream. Purchasing in manufacturing, which has shifted to asynchronous processes, can drastically affect delivery time of a product, and embracing a more digital approach throughout its life will accelerate time to delivery. To support these behaviors, a factory will need a digital infrastructure, robot process automation, security, and intellectual property measures to be in place for the entire value stream. While you might naturally focus your digital efforts on the factory floor, don’t forget about the systems upstream.
Digital Manufacturing Peers Into the Future
Digital manufacturing is about the future, literally and figuratively. When speaking about digital manufacturing, we are talking about employing computers using discrete building blocks of information, zeros and ones, as switches in a system where logic is applied to create, store, transform, and transmit information. In contrast, analog systems handle information as waves, which computers are far less capable of utilizing efficiently. Therefore, digital applications in manufacturing, as well as in many other sectors, are preferred over their analog counterparts because they are more scalable, accurate, and configurable. Advances in these concepts literally move the industry into the future.
Figuratively speaking, the application of digital technologies in manufacturing offers predictability or insight into the future as well. The processes needed to make statistical inferences for automated decision-making usually require the collection and analysis of large amounts of data. Unlike most other industries, the nature of manufacturing operations lends itself well to the creation of sufficiently large volumes of data needed for that glimpse into the future.
Rev Up Your Presence! IMTS Exhibitors Dive In to Smartforce at IMTS 2024
Don’t miss out on shaping the next-gen manufacturing tech workforce at the Smartforce Student Summit at IMTS 2024, where thousands of educators, administrators, and students will gather from across North America. IMTS exhibitors: Snag your spot now at the hottest venue and show off your tech, solutions, and training gear to the education market. Be part of inspiring, educating, and lifting the industry by connecting with top-tier students, aspiring talent, and tomorrow’s innovators. Hurry – space is limited!
Visit IMTS.com/smartforce for details or contact Catherine “Cat” Ross at cross@AMTonline.org to take the wheel and steer the next innovation wave. Let’s make waves together!
P.S. Let your local MFG educators know: Schools attend IMTS for free! Registration for educators and students opens in February.
Calling on Manufacturing Voters
This is an important election year, meaning most of the policy work will be done outside Washington. Now is the ideal time to make your case for government initiatives that strengthen manufacturing. The candidates, your elected members, and administration officials are coming to your neighborhood to campaign for your vote. Both parties recognize the critical role of manufacturing technology in economic growth, national security, and global leadership. However, many politicians currently in or running for office need more education to fully understand the impact of their ideas. By using every opportunity to tell your story, you bring focus to the issues that affect your business and industry, such as spending priorities, expiring 2017 tax cuts, advanced manufacturing competitiveness, the workforce deficit, and regulation compliance costs.
Of course, any time is a good time to underscore the importance of manufacturing – talk about it, write about it, and take action because you know all about it. Email Amber Thomas at athomas@AMTonline.org if you need assistance with an issue or contacting your officials.
Global Harmony (at Least for Manufacturing)
Digitalization in manufacturing is a worldwide phenomenon and the key ingredient in Industry 4.0. Data, of course, is its critical lifeblood. For digitalization to succeed on a global scale, data normalization is necessary. Standards and protocols need to be harmonized to provide the rulebook and language for devices and systems to communicate effectively, be it across the factory floor or across oceans. They can ensure consistency in data formats, security measures, and overall system architecture. Standards act as the glue holding together the diverse components of Industry 4.0, fostering interoperability, scalability, and security. Industry requires multiple protocols and standards.
While there is no one silver bullet, MTConnect offers a strong solution. It is an open, royalty-free standard that provides a semantic vocabulary and information model for manufacturing devices. It is in use in factories all around the world and, as a basic common language model, one of the first you should investigate. For more information, visit MTConnect.org.
To read the rest of the Digital Manufacturing Issue of MT Magazine, click here.