If you think technology has changed rapidly in the last 30 years, just wait. According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index, by 2017, there will be 1.7 billion machine-to-machine wireless connections. These connections make up the Internet of Things (IoT) which are uniquely identifiable objects and their virtual representations in an Internet-like structure.
A concrete example might help.
Have You Seen the Coca-Cola Freestyle Machine?
One of the most powerful examples of the full Global Supply Chain / Smart Manufacturing is the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine ― a Smart Machine. Machines such as Coca-Cola’s Freestyle beverage dispenser digitally interacts with consumers using Social Media, uses GPS radio data to transmit maintenance needs, consumption data and request re-supply of syrup cartridges. This integrated system allows the organization to streamline distribution and production directly with consumer demand and provides data for new product development based on individual consumer taste trends.
The IoT, like all of the pieces required to make the Freestyle Machine possible, is driving the convergence of integrated control and information technologies to help put customers in charge. By integrating customer demand, production and supplier data, manufacturing becomes faster and more accessible. This leads to lower costs, increased efficiency, and faster response times.
The Internet of Everything
We already have smart devices like PCs, Tablets, Phones, TVs, Cars and Wearables like the Fitbit. After these become commonplace, you will hear more about smart homes, smart cities, smart offices and smart factories.
Modern smart factories are now interconnected with suppliers, distributors, customers and business systems through information technology (data, voice, mobile, etc.) to create a highly optimized and competitive business environment. They have real-time, multidimensional data analysis, integrated video collaboration, remote tracking of physical assets, and intelligent robots. As a result, data flows continuously across the whole system driving production, distribution, inventory, and retail availability. The IoE turns information into actions that create new capabilities that we can only imagine now.
Business Insider has a good presentation on the rapid expansion of the Internet of Everything that clearly shows the rapid expansion and reasons behind the growth.
The IoT is gaining momentum and poses unique challenges as the amount of available data grows, but the data deluge will only continue as the next phase of the Internet of Things — the Internet of Everything (IoE) — comes online. The Internet of Everything will bring together people, process, data, and anything else to make networked connections more relevant and valuable. IoE will turn information into actions that create new capabilities that we can only imagine now.
Software and technology systems are becoming fully integrated with complex demand planning and forecasting capabilities, supplier network planning, production planning, distribution planning, as well as activities such as automated procurement, replenishment, fulfillment, and billing. The IoE will require a paradigm shift to change the way we look at manufacturing and global supply chain.
Why is the IoE Growing so Fast?
…Because it improves operational efficiency. Software and technology systems are becoming fully integrated with complex demand planning and forecasting capabilities, supplier network planning, production planning, distribution planning, as well as activities such as automated procurement, replenishment, fulfillment, and billing. Cisco estimates that “The IoE could increase global private-sector profits by 21% in aggregate between 2013 and 2022.”
The future is here, but it’s not evenly distributed. Many manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the changes the IoE requires.
Getting the Most Out of the Internet of Everything
The word ‘smart’ has recently become a prefix that seems to be added to everything these days. We have smartphones, smart-TVs and smart cars. Manufacturing is on the same course. Smart manufacturing is being used to refer to the seamless operation of every step of the production chain connected through digital information. Smart manufacturing systems combine automation, data and physical systems to streamline processes from raw ingredient management to consumers. ‘Smart’ comes as a result of the efficiency gained from networking hardware.
If you feel like the pace at which technology is evolving is fast, you are in for a surprise. Things are about to get much faster. According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index, by 2017, there will be 1.7 billion machine-to-machine wireless connections. These connections make up the Internet of Things (IoT) which are objects, like cameras or conveyor lines, and their virtual representations in an internet-like structure. Cisco and others are referring to the progression of the IoT as the Internet of Everything (IoE).
How can You Overcome the Challenges of the IoE and Realize the Value?
With more companies gaining access to technology and innovations that level the playing field, such as cloud computing, what really matters is how executives harness these innovations to maximize value realized from IoE. According to Cisco, the top three challenges facing executives in realizing the benefits of the IoE are:
- Investing in the right technology infrastructure and capabilities
- Integrating new technologies with legacy IT environments
- Updating processes to absorb new technologies
The Role of Big Data in the IoE
We live in a new manufacturing era that’s referred to as the Third Industrial Revolution in Europe and Smart Manufacturing in North America, because of the digitization of manufacturing. In this era, information plays a central role. How a product’s design and manufacturing information is authored, exchanged, and processed will determine who will succeed. Smart manufacturing is the seamless operation of every step of the production chain connected through digital information. By combining automation, data and physical systems, smart manufacturing streamlines processes from raw ingredient management to consumers.
Smart Manufacturing (SM) is the evolution of the manufacturing environment where the integration of information, technology and human innovation drive a better, faster and more efficient production system operating at the highest level of quality and output. It has been called the fourth industrial revolution – where real world meets virtual plant. SM is an operating model where machines talk to one another and share data at every point. It is the use of intelligence at a fully-integrated level to allow companies to connect the customers’ needs to supply chain to the production equipment to the operators to putting the product in the consumer’s hands – a full circle of data exchange.
Some of the following benefits of smart manufacturing are already being realized by companies who have begun to take steps in integrating manufacturing data as a driver of their operations.
- Reduces time to market
- Leverages dynamic demand-driven economics
- Drives higher export markets
- Provides global competitive edge
- Enables progress toward zero incidents and emissions performance
- Takes advantage of integrated energy management and the smart grid
- Enables agile response to consumer demand.
The Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition (SMLC) estimates that over the next 10 years, the benefits of smart manufacturing will deliver some of the most meaningful impacts in manufacturing such as:
- Resources and optimized networks – 25% reduction of safety incidents, 25% improvement in energy efficiency, 10% improvement of overall operating efficiency (OEE), 40% reduction of cycle times
- Product – Product tracking and traceability throughout the supply chain; pinpoint product recalls that are dynamically managed; ensure product trustworthiness
- Transition economics – 10 times improvement in time to market in target industries
- U.S. industrial innovation base – 25% revenue in new products and services; 2 times current small and medium enterprises (SMEs) addressing total market; more highly skilled sustainable jobs created.
Are you taking these steps towards Smart Manufacturing?
- Digital control systems with embedded, automated process controls, operator tools, such as interactive HMIs, and information systems, that are optimizing your plant operations and safety.
- Asset management (predictive maintenance tools, statistical evaluation, and measurement) to maximize plant reliability.
- Smart sensors to detect anomalies and help avoid abnormal or devastating events.
- Smart systems integrated within the industrial energy management system and externally to a smart grid for real-time energy optimization.
What is Driving the Transition to Smart Manufacturing?
The primary drivers of global supply chain are:
- New technology trends such as the explosion of information: Moore’s Law ― the observation that, over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years.
- Regulatory trends: New rules, new compliance. For example, more stringent FDA regulations require track and trace on each individual component in medical devices.
- Industry Trends Driving Change: Consumers and shoppers will continue to become more demanding and empowered.
- Product flow: Redesigning supply chains. New industry challenges necessitate new supply chain solutions. Urban structures will require special attention.
- Information flow: Managing complexity through transparency. Open information sharing will be an important foundation to help companies anticipate dynamic consumer demands.
As technologies improve to handle Big Data, manufacturing processes are changing rapidly.
Big Data in Smart Manufacturing
Devices are producing more data than ever before, as a whole, they create Big Data which has unique challenges in capturing, storage, searching, sharing, transferring, analysis and visualization. For example, a manufacturing line running 1,000 parts per minute with two vision inspections pictures per part equals 20 million pictures a week translates to 50 billion pictures a year. Multiply that by 100 lines you have five trillion pictures a year.
Big Data can be a valuable source of information, but it’s underutilized. Various company interviews and studies report that a majority of CEOs say that their companies need to do a better job of capturing and understanding information rapidly in order to make swift business decisions.
When it comes to global supply chain – big data offers unprecedented insight, improved decision-making and untapped sources of profit. Leading edge organizations have been generating Big Data for many years. Now, they are beginning to use big data to replace intuition and guesswork and are adopting a data-driven approach to decision-making.
Software systems, sensors, processors, communication devices use Big Data to make decisions throughout the manufacturing process in real time. This is critical to remain competitive and meet the growing market demands.
Modern smart factories are now interconnected with suppliers, distributors, customers and business systems through information technology (data, voice, mobile, etc.) to create a highly optimized and competitive business environment. Data flows continuously across the whole system driving production, distribution, inventory, and retail availability. You can buy just about anything from your mobile phone at any time.
What is Driving Big Data?
Five market pressures drive the behavior of manufacturers in varying priorities:
- Manufacturing Cost Reduction
- Improving Time to Market
- Global Supply Chain Management
- Management of Volatile Demand
- Complete Orders, On-Time
While this list may seem quite common sense ― 50 years ago, global supply chain, a network of different companies producing, handling and/or distributing a specific product, was not even considered. In fact, many manufacturers didn’t even think on a global level – they managed according to regions.
Today, gaining efficiency means gaining an understanding of global data and manufacturing practices so that manufacturers can meet the demand of rapidly growing and evolving consumers. As consumer demand increases, the market pressures push the manufacturing and global supply chain to deliver goods to a global population of 8 billion, with 70 million people moving into the middle class with a spending power of $80 trillion annually. Manufacturers need to overcome the challenges of utilizing Big Data in order to keep up with the marketplace.
Manufacturing Convergence Brings All of These Elements Together
Manufacturers understand the power of information. The entire industry is adapting to technologies that allow them to do a better job of getting the right information to the right people at the right time so they can make quick, smart business decisions. The manufacturers that can be more responsive to changing market conditions without sacrificing efficiency will win in the marketplace.
What does this look like?
To improve responsiveness and decision making, plant managers and enterprise management need real-time data in a usable, integrated format. They want access on their smartphones and tablets to view data and control operations from anywhere with an internet connection. They want to plan better preventative maintenance, reduce troubleshooting and change supply orders in an instant.
To make these abilities a reality, plants need system management software, a high bandwidth network, smart devices throughout the line and databases on virtual servers. The data and controls can be handled by virtualized servers on-site or in the cloud. The actual hardware implementations are rather unimpressive to look at, but their abilities are nothing less than sci-fi.
You can probably imagine what these technologies would be like and how they could improve your line, but when you look at your line, the distance between what you see and what you know is possible might seem unattainable. Convergence isn’t free, but the biggest investment isn’t in the cost of the hardware, it’s in the changes you have to make internally. Company culture and processes need to adapt to the new climate.
New control technologies have given manufacturers the ability to make quicker and smarter moves on the plant floor, but before the new technology is implemented disparate teams of people need to work together. That means controls engineers need to be IT savvy and IT engineers also need to understand the needs of controls engineers to create the right networks and procedures.
They share a common goal in creating a dynamic control system that maximizes efficiency and flexibility without sacrificing security, but how do aging facilities bridge the gap?
You start by putting a plan in place.
Evolving Your Plant Floor
To understand what needs to happen, it might help to give a brief explanation of what has happened in manufacturing. Traditionally, IT personnel and controls engineers performed their jobs without much interaction, but as ethernet technology improved and bandwidth increased, devices and sensors began to transmit much more information leading to some major evolutions in manufacturing. Supply chain, logistics, and plant managers all depend on this information to make informed decisions.
With more information available, smarter decisions can be made in a much shorter timeframe, but this information only helps when it’s in one cohesive system. When all of the devices in a plant communicate as one system and are controlled by one system, controls engineers have the ability to quickly implement decisions.
Factory Floor IT has matured into a crucial business asset. New plants are being planned with specific IT requirements and objectives directed specifically at the factory floor network design parameters. Simply put, convergence is the integration of all of the data points within a manufacturing facility with other levels of IT, such as the ERP systems and other business applications. It is connecting the plant floor with business IT.
But what about older plants that have had to evolve technology over time? Chances are, these facilities have upgraded their IT in a “patchwork” fashion and the probability of significant downtime looms large. The good news? Revamping your plant’s IT infrastructure is easier and more affordable than ever.
The upgrading of network equipment, industrial controllers, PC-based operating systems and network media have made real-time data collection more efficient through automation. Industrial network hardware is capable and built with future scalability and stability in mind. So the only question remaining is, “What is stopping you from upgrading your Factory Floor’s network infrastructure?”
How can this be done?
In the report by the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition (SMLC), Implementing 21st Century Smart Manufacturing, it is stated that the intensified application of advanced intelligence systems for the rapid production of new products, flexible and dynamic changes in product demand, and the real-time optimization of manufacturing production creates a knowledge-rich environment across the enterprise. While much progress and innovation in digital and communication platforms has been made, there are still many components of the smart manufacturing operation that will need to be addressed by manufacturers, software developers and OEMs, as the industry advances in this direction over the next 10 years.
Ten actions have been identified as priorities by the SMLC:
- Create community platforms (networks, software) for virtual plant enterprise
- Develop next generation toolbox of software and computing architectures for manufacturing decision-making
- Integrate human factors and decisions into plant optimization software and user interfaces
- Expand availability of energy decision tools (energy dashboards, automated data feedback systems, etc.) for multiple industries and diverse skill levels
- Establish consistent, efficient data methods for all industries (data protocols and interfaces, communication standards)
- Develop robust data collection frameworks (sensors/data fusion, machine and user interfaces, data recording and retrieval tools)
- Optimize supply chain performance through common reporting (dashboards)
- Develop open platform software and hardware to integrate and transfer data between small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs)
- Integrate product and manufacturing process models (software, networks, virtual and real-time simulations, data transfer systems)
- Enhance education and training to build workforce for Smart Manufacturing (training modules, curricula, design standards, learner interfaces)
Plant managers with existing lines and legacy systems often perceive major barriers to upgrading, such as cost, but they also understand that unplanned costs are worse. Full overhauls aren’t always an option so long term goals can be set that will evolve your line over time.
A network assessment can detail small steps which can lead to major improvements in efficiency and help to create a realistic plan. Next generation plant lines need a plan that includes close collaboration with IT engineers who understand the needs of controls engineers. Moving people between groups through formal and informal cross-training programs and creating cross-functional teams creates a flexible organizational structure. The important part is defining the working relationship and making sure groups are collaborating. With the right plan and procedures, your line can continue to run within your budget while gradually gaining efficiency and flexibility.
Barriers to Manufacturing Convergence
Manufacturers often have groups of people who don’t communicate and neither do their networks. Yet, information needs to be accessible to everyone. Convergence is about closing the gaps between silos within an organization or vertical that result in poor information exchange and resource allocation. Hardware is a piece of a much larger puzzle.
The most important teams to bring together for convergence are between manufacturing and IT which often have different models and experiences in network design. These two groups of people use different terminology, applications, or have different policies for data and asset management. Integrating applications and systems can be costly and time-consuming without proper coordination so in Part II, we’ll discuss the real gap that is being closed by convergence.
3 Hurdles Manufacturers Need to Overcome
The Federal Government’s Advanced Manufacturing Portal provides a large library of resources that includes insights into the present state of manufacturing and forecasts into the future. One of their forward thinking initiatives is the Digital Manufacturing & Design Innovation (DMDII) Institute which will, “be the intellectual hub that helps U.S. manufacturers be the best in the world at connecting their flexible manufacturing operations, driving them securely with digital data, controlling quality with feedback from sensors and data analysis, maintaining a trusted chain of custody and delivering products in significantly less time than global competitors.”
They believe in a networked digital design process that carries through to all stakeholders with what is known as the Digital Thread. According to LNS Research, the Cloud, Mobile, Big Data, and the Internet of Things are all important strands of the Digital Thread, breaking down information silos to foster collaboration by:
- Enabling streamlined collaboration of product and process designs into manufacturing operations
- Providing real-time, role-based data on mobile devices
- Tying quality, asset management, scheduling & planning, customer sentiment into decision-making across departments
- Supporting closed-loop quality and end-to-end product traceability capabilities
- Extracting additional information from structured and unstructured data to better forecast and make decisions
To overcome these hurdles, manufacturers will need to be prepared to:
Establish True Interoperability
Industrial networks will need to provide high-speed highways for automation communication and data delivery in real-time. Agile and robust manufacturing strategies & integrated capabilities will dramatically reduce the cost and time of producing complex systems and parts. Manufacturers will need the development and implementation of modeling and simulation tools to allow faster time to market and efficient production of complex systems. These tools and practices will help to minimize multiple designs, prototypes, and test iterations typically required for product or process qualification, all connected via the ‘digital thread’ to enable designer, analyst, manufacturer, and maintainer collaboration.
Melding your Factory Floor infrastructure with real-time data generated by your equipment will give your operations team the ability to make informed decisions at any given instant. Moving to a paperless environment using real-time data is delivered all within a dashboard. You can have a birds-eye view of the entire operation, from procurement to manufacturing to finished inventory. As technology continues to improve and provides more and better data, adding new components can be as simple as plugging them in.
Maintain Network Technology and Security
Lax information security policies and practices can be a serious barrier when converging your IT infrastructure with your plant floor. Most businesses use firewalls to help keep outsiders from infiltrating their systems, but most security breaches actually come from INSIDE the company. Security isn’t just an add-on, it should be baked into your IT at every level. A tiered infrastructure with varying degrees of access and security provides the highest levels of protection and will help prevent the worst of disasters.
Manufacturers will need a secure and trusted infrastructure for the management of information assets in a highly collaborative manufacturing environment. In addition to the known vulnerabilities of networked business systems and transactions used in manufacturing, factories of the future will need to address the new vulnerabilities of cyber physical systems in intelligent machines, sensors and control systems.
Advance Machine Intelligence, Workforce Skills, and New Organizational Cultures
These technology considerations combined with the retiring workforce creates a big risk for many manufacturers. Younger workers have a higher rate of injury in the workplace due to lack of experience with equipment, almost twice the number of injury requiring emergency care than that of the worker in the 25 to 50 age bracket. But, advanced data tracking will standardize operating procedures and make worker training and production management more effective.
These challenges increase manufacturing complexity and make a manageable cost structure more difficult. But, if manufacturers can take advantage of the digital thread, they can identify opportunities for customization that create value for customers and remain competitive well into the future.