Big data is the fourth industrial revolution
Britains manufacturing sector has just posted its...
Dynistics Managing Director, Robert Dagge shares insights from the FT Future of Manufacturing Summit
Britain’s manufacturing sector has just posted its strongest growth in over two years. Latest figures show that export orders have increased at their fastest rate since January 2014 and factories have also taken on more workers, with employment rising for the second consecutive month. However, the export benefits of a weakened pound will not last forever, and so, as the manufacturing sector continues to evolve, this year’s FT Future of Manufacturing Summit looked at how big data analytics, advanced robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT) and additive manufacturing are shaping the economics of production and distribution within the sector.
With the opportunities big data brings referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution in manufacturing, the estimated £57bn boost to the industry over the next five years will be driven by gains in efficiency through the use of big data analytics. The winners will be those who can adapt, embrace technologies and respond to new demands. But are manufacturing companies making the most of the new technology at their disposal to not only identify the problems but solve them and affect the bottom-line results?
This was the subject debated at the FT Future of Manufacturing Summit held in London on 4th October, which brought together senior business leaders and policy makers including Andy Palmer, CEO, Aston Martin; Zoe Webster, Head of High Value Manufacturing at Innovate UK; and Andrew Liveris, chairman and CEO of Dow Chemical Company. Discussions included what manufacturers must do now to adapt, shape and harness the technological revolution; how they can best prepare to face the challenges that lie ahead and benefit from the optimisation and increased revenue sources that digital capabilities deliver; and finally, after Brexit, what is the way forward for manufacturing?
Manufacturers have always had to innovate to differentiate themselves from the competition and gain an edge. While Aston Martin currently uses a single robot at its car factory, its chief executive, Andy Palmer said there would be more investment in production technology in the coming years, including 3D printers that can manufacture specialist components. While, for years, Aston Martin has eschewed robots on its production line, the company is now preparing to embrace robotics in order to extend the brand and drive revenue and profit growth. This will also enable them to expand on increased demand for personalisation, for example by customising their hand-stitched seat fabric.
Indeed, customisation is at the heart of the changing shape of manufacturing; the traditional model of ‘business-to-consumer’ is making way for a more contemporary structure of ‘consumer-to-business-to-consumer’. As part of this evolution, it is critical for manufacturers to manage that process and understand the intelligence of the data presented to them. The industry is already notably playing catch up so to successfully deliver the customisation expectations of today’s consumer, manufacturers must adopt technologies that can successfully support them in doing so.
Rodney Brooks, founder and CTO of Rethink Robotics spoke about the rise of automation in manufacturing. Designed to work alongside humans on the factory floor, their robots are at the forefront of a new wave of industrial automation where machine learning and artificial intelligence are embedded, and new tasks can be taught without the need for complex programming. And coming in at around $30,000, they have the advantage of being accessible to SMEs who may never previously have had automation in their factories, and can now make a return on investment within just a couple of years.
These new advances in automation, robotics and software engineering technologies are eliminating demand for large teams of low-skilled, relatively inexperienced workers based in remote places. As a result, there’s been an increase in the nearshoring of many manufacturing processes. While this presents a huge opportunity for those organisations that can adapt quickly and embrace the change, for many SMEs in the manufacturing space, processes are still governed by ad hoc technology which prevents them from utilising data to its full potential. As Andrew Liveris, chairman and CEO of Dow Chemical Company put succinctly in his ‘rewire or rehire’ speech, the winners in the future will be those who can adapt to these changes, embrace the new technologies at their disposal, and respond to the new demand.
This is especially important in a post-Brexit world where we have to look at all new avenues of generating growth and investment. The fact is that manufacturers who are slow to adopt big data and harness it, will find themselves on the back foot and may struggle to compete and prosper.
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Siemens: Providing the First Industrial 5G Router
Across a number of industry sectors, there’s a growing need for both local wireless connectivity and remote access to machines and plants. In both of these cases, communication is, more often than not, over a long distance. Public wireless data networks can be used to enable this connectivity, both nationally and internationally, which makes the new 5G network mainframe an absolutely vital element of remote access and remote servicing solutions as we move into the interconnected age.
Siemens Enables 5G IIoT
The eagerly awaited Scalance MUM856-1, Siemens’ very first industrial 5G router, is officially available to organisations. The device has the ability to connect all local industrial applications to the public 5G, 4G (LTE), and 3G (UMTS) mobile wireless networks ─ allowing companies to embrace the long-awaited Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
The router can be used to remotely monitor and service plants, machines, as well as control elements and other industrial devices via a public 5G network ─ flexibly and with high data rates. Something that has been in incredibly high demand after being teased by the leading network providers for years.
Scalance MUM856-1 at a Glance
- Scalance MUM856-1 connects local industrial applications to public 5G, 4G, and 3G mobile wireless networks
- The router supports future-oriented applications such as remote access via public 5G networks or the connection of mobile devices such as automated guided vehicles in industry
- A robust version in IP65 housing for use outside the control cabinet
- Prototypes of Siemens 5G infrastructure for private networks already in use at several sites
“To ensure the powerful connection of Ethernet-based subnetworks and automation devices, the Scalance MUM856-1 supports Release 15 of the 5G standard. The device offers high bandwidths of up to 1000 Mbps for the downlink and up to 500 Mbps for the uplink – providing high data rates for data-intensive applications such as the remote implementation of firmware updates. Thanks to IPv6 support, the devices can also be implemented in modern communication networks.
Various security functions are included to monitor data traffic and protect against unauthorised access: for example, an integrated firewall and authentication of communication devices and encryption of data transmission via VPN. If there is no available 5G network, the device switches automatically to 4G or 3G networks. The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and autoconfiguration of the devices,” Siemens said.
Preparing for a 5G-oriented Future
Siemens has announced that the new router can also be integrated into private 5G networks. This means that the Scalance MUM856-1 is, essentially, future-proofed when it comes to 5G adaptability; it supports future-oriented applications, including ‘mobile robots in manufacturing, autonomous vehicles in logistics or augmented reality applications for service technicians.’
And, for use on sites where conditions are a little harsher, Siemens has given the router robust IP65 housing ─ it’s “dust tight”, waterproof, and immersion-proofed.
The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. “With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and auto-configuration of the devices,” Siemens added.