How technology is transforming manufacturing
There is no doubting the transformative effects of technological advancements on businesses. The main developments that affect manufacturing are the Internet of Things (IoT), which describes the way objects use the internet to communicate, and artificial intelligence (AI) programs, which compiles massive amounts of data for intelligent machine learning. Both these advancements have improved manufacturing systems and efficiencies and are well-received in the sector.
By the end of 2018, there will be more than 1.3mn robots on production lines globally. However, the rise of technologies is accompanied by concerns that robots will render manufacturing jobs redundant. I believe the contrary - the development and implementation of these technologies will open many doors for businesses, with human and robot collaboration being at the forefront.
As this trend is set to continue, it is worth looking at the ways that these technologies are fundamentally changing the manufacturing industry as we know it.
Manufacturers have always wanted to ensure every product is perfect, and this seemingly impossible task is now within reach. With the increased implementation of AI in the production line, it is now much easier for businesses to spot areas of improvement, whether it be in terms of efficiency, productivity or error rates.
Through IoT technology, machines can seamlessly talk to each other and react to any problems that arise. If a machine spots an issue, it can quickly alert other machines and employees – allowing the problem to be addressed in real-time. Additionally, machines can detect miniscule defects missed by the human eye. The enhancement in precision manufacturing by these smart technological systems lowers error rates and product failures, overall reducing huge costs historically faced by manufacturers.
- GE Additive partners with the University of Sydney to accelerate metal additive manufacturing
- Vivo aims to invest Rs 4,000 crore in a new manufacturing plant in India
- Mitsubishi Motors reenters its partnership with Nissan and Renault
A clear example of how the industry has been impacted by AI and IoT is its impact on predictive maintenance. The sector suffers from machine breakdown and malfunction: a recent study by The Wall Street Journal found that unplanned downtime due to breakdowns in equipment cost businesses in the US$50bn per year. Technology has the power to make these expensive interruptions a thing of the past.
AI provides a system that constantly learns and evaluates how a machine is running – analysing data and minor shifts in performance. The technology will be able to forecast when an issue may be occurring faster than any human. In doing so, AI technologies can flag any issue at an earlier stage, so businesses can foresee the problem before it worsens.
According to a McKinsey report, businesses who have already implemented predictive maintenance within their factories have seen downtime of machines reduced by 50 percent and maintenance costs reduced by between 10% and 40%. In the next few years, we will see the increase in use of predictive maintenance, with businesses reaping the rewards of lower maintenance costs and improved efficiencies.
Improved customer engagement
IoT and AI is fundamentally changing traditional customer engagement – a critical area for the industry. The improved service offering can help in negating angry or disappointed customers by creating clear communications in real time between manufacturing businesses and their customers. If updates need to be made remotely, then this can be done through IoT, and if a product is showing a potential defect, customers can be made aware much quicker.
The ability to provide data and an understanding of how a product is being used allows for remote support to be offered to customers. All this contributes to a more efficient and effective way of advising and supporting customers and provided an improved service.
The manufacturing sector will greatly benefit from the continuous adoption of advanced technologies. Many fear the implications of these developments on job opportunities but I firmly believe the industry has so much to gain from AI and IoT, and in fact, they will increase the number of manufacturing jobs available. Ultimately, it provides a win-win scenario, and I look forward to seeing what happens in 2019.
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.