With the rapid growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), the manufacturing industry is experiencing game-changing product innovations, new collaborative business models, customer expectations for personalized products, different expectations from a younger workforce, rapid advances in transformative technologies, and other trends. That message was made clear as IoT took center stage at the Manufacturing Leadership Summit hosted by Frost & Sullivan, recently.
In attendance were executive-level members from many notable companies, such as L’Oreal, Procter and Gamble, Campbell Soup, GM, Ford, and GE. They heard numerous examples of how this new era in manufacturing is playing out.
IoT Drives Tech Innovations in Manufacturing
The event started with David Brousell, VP and Editorial Director Manufacturing Leadership Summit, discussing the large impact IoT technology is having on manufacturing, citing two well-known laws. Moore’s Law, which coincidentally is celebrating its 50th anniversary, asserts computing power doubles every two years, which is making manufacturing devices more intelligent and capable of handling new use cases.
Metcalfe’s Law states the value of a network increases proportionally with the square of the number of communicating devices connected to the network, which will change business for manufacturers as IoT-enabled connections increase.
Ford Motor Company spoke about its decision to build a new F-150 truck with an aluminum alloy body that would reduce vehicle weight by up to 700 pounds. This product innovation wasn’t just about a choice of materials, but also the major changes in manufacturing that were needed, as well as the bold leadership and team work within the company to pull off such a feat.
Lockheed Martin is pushing the boundaries of digital manufacturing by combining virtual reality development environments, 3D printing, and end-to-end digital processes to streamline its entire product development and manufacturing processes. In addition to advanced technology, this requires a change in employee mindsets and work cultures, and the development of more integrated corporate structures that foster close collaborative relationships across the enterprise.
Zebra Technologies talked about how customers are demanding more personalized products, making it more important to gain real-time insights into supply chain operations to avoid sudden disruptions.
Millennials in Manufacturing
Louisiana Economic Development presented ways to improve or change the perception of manufacturing to attract a younger generation of workers who come with a different set of workplace expectations. It has been difficult to get Millennials to fill the hundreds of thousands of open manufacturing jobs.
Transformational IoT Technologies
I spoke about how transformational technologies, and IoT in particular, are enabling new cyber-physical systems in plants, processes, and intelligent products. But before manufacturers can harness the power and opportunities of new technologies, they must figure out how to integrate them into their legacy systems, in which they have a significant investment. This is part of the journey towards what is commonly known as Manufacturing 4.0.
The manufacturing industry is still grappling with IoT-related questions, such as:
- Definition – Are IoT-connected machines connected devices or Industry 4.0?
- Migration – Is an IoT strategy needed? Or is the strategy about how to start?
- Value-add – Is IoT about intelligent machines or the analysis of the data?
- Security – How big an issue is security?
- Deployment: Are there smart products? How are they serviced and maintained if they are deployed across the globe?
The fact is that there are still some implementation challenges related to manufacturing culture and technology that are being worked out by the industry. The industry is still in a process of building these solutions, and a fair amount of work needs to be done before all the pieces of the puzzle are in place. Every day, there are new success stories.
IoT in Action
We at Intel implemented IoT solutions in our own highly-automated manufacturing sites for several use cases, including preventive maintenance and energy management. Along with our ecosystem partners, we’ve documented our methods and results in solution blueprints.
A New Era
The summit was a reminder that today’s fast-changing world demands a constant flow of new ideas about how to design, build, and deliver products. Every aspect of the value chain must move forward in order to stay competitive: from product development, to end-to-end life-cycle integration, to the wider societal and environmental impact of production strategies. With Moore’s Law as our guide, thankfully, all things are possible.
To learn more about what Intel is doing to move the manufacturing industry forward, visit intel.com/industrial. To stay up-to-date with Intel IoT developments, keep your eyes on this blog, our website, and on Facebook and Twitter.