In today’s disruptive age, where evolution in technologies occur every day, there has been a lot of discussion about the convergence of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT). Similarly, smart Manufacturing, factory of the future, Industry revolution 4.0, are the buzzwords phrased by those impelling the manufacturing world forward. And with these phrases, the concept of digital manufacturing emerges.
Digital manufacturing is merely utilizing digital technology to amass and practice information to augment efficiency across the entire lifecycle of a manufactured product. To proceed in this space, organizations need to comprehend the full potential of investments in new emerging technologies and transform manufacturing operation.
With owing to rapidly intricate and fast-changing customer demands, the half-life of a successful product or business strategy is lessening, and the rate of change is stimulating. Thus, succeeding in this new changing scenario, a manufacturing firm needs to embrace innovative, agile, and fast-moving business strategy.
It also means that organizations need to repeatedly alter what they are doing, even if it’s been successful so far. Because what performed earlier may not essentially work in the years to come.
Recently, Industry 4.0, a name given to the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies, come into the view. It consists of robotics, IoT (Internet of Things), cloud computing, AI and big data. These kinds of digital technologies drastically fuel the efficiency of each step in the product lifecycle and provide new ways to utilize data to make decisions in real time that optimize processes.
What Does Digital Manufacturing Mean for Small and Medium-Sized Manufacturers?
At present, ongoing design software empowers manufacturers to create a virtual facsimile of a physical part or product. This virtual product unlocks the door to a unique level of collaboration, tapping multiple sources of expertise across multiple disciplines throughout the supply chain.
By opting digital manufacturing and design tools and methodologies, small manufacturers can become a part of this new standard, where large manufacturers manage the process as a virtual vertical unified enterprise. With the idea of the factory of the future, the small manufacturer will need to integrate into OEM’s process and software. With this integration of new supply chain, OEMs can expect small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs) to be able to join forces on digital design and manufacturing and to leverage digital manufacturing tools to optimize production.
As fall behind on these digital capabilities, SMMs can miss out to competitors. Conversely, both OEMs and SMMs will benefit from these new technologies. Connected through the digital thread, OEMs will have access to offer assistance to SMMs to advance their processes and result in fruitful production.
With the right partner, SMMs these days can easily commit to digital manufacturing investments that will provide value to their customers, including Data-driven production planning; Automated data exchange with customers and suppliers; Design tools that tie manufacturing processes; Automated machine data capturing and analysis; and Cybersecurity protocols for equipment, employees, and the enterprise overall.
Industry IoT (IIoT) is the Next Big Digital Disruption in Manufacturing
Since the world becomes gradually connected, digitalization is a key differentiator that will empower businesses to stay competitive. Embracing IIoT data from billions of intelligent devices producing huge amounts of data, it promises in lessening costs, improving production quality, flexibility, efficiency, shorter response time to market demands, and also opening doors to new business opportunities.
IIoT in manufacturing systems is rapidly becoming digital manufacturing platforms, which assimilate ERP (Enterprise resource planning), MES, PLM (Product lifecycle management) and CRM systems to offer a single unified view of product configurations. Digital manufacturing platforms are already empowering real-time monitoring to the machine and shop floor level.
In a nutshell, manufacturing is being transformed through digitalization, which includes new software technologies for design, reproduction, and automation; the IIoT; and methods and geometries made possible through additive manufacturing. Unlike industries such as healthcare, automotive, and aerospace, where there’s a lot of room for the optimization that these technologies offer, the manufacturing industry also poised to be disrupted in the future.