IBM: optimising factory operations with smart Manufacturing
Manufacturing Global takes a look at how smart manufacturing is reimagining the industry and the ways in which IBM can help factories optimise their operations.
“The focus of every industrial revolution has been increasing the productivity of production systems. The fourth industrial revolution is here, and it’s seeking to improve both production and management systems,” commented IBM in a recent white paper.
To achieve these improvements within manufacturing digital transformation is being driven by smart manufacturing to create new opportunities and achieve new levels of productivity and specialisation.
By harnessing the power of data, industrial internet of things (IoT) and analytics, manufacturers are achieving new capabilities including predictive maintenance and quality. As a result smart manufacturing is reimagining the way in which organisations do business.
IBM explains that most factories are composed of operation technology assets, these include machines, equipment lines and robotic devices, however these devices are not always connected.
Current trends are focusing on building a more IT-based factory to save time, labour, cost and maintenance. As a result industrial IoT platforms are on the rise as new innovative concepts harnessing artificial intelligence (AI) analytics, big data and cognitive manufacturing emerge.
Targeting pain points
IBM further explains that in order to understand the impact of Industry 4.0 solutions, the industry must examine the key people involved in all aspects of factory operations.
True transformation can only happen when all unique challenges and pain points are targeted.
Three tiered architecture solutions
By harnessing IBM’s three tiered architecture solutions, organisations can keep the needs of different workers in mind to implement an efficient smart manufacturing strategy.
IBM’s three tiered architecture addresses autonomy and self-sufficiency requirements of each production sire and balances the workload.
Edge level - the predominantly physical area of a factory for product related activities
Plant/factory level - plant and local activities are orchestrated and connected
Enterprise level - analysis of all information and information storage
Deploying industry 4.0
Harnessing smart manufacturing solutions can drive flexibility, speed and resilience within a manufacturing ecosystem, by collecting data, optimising performance and improving agility within an organisation.
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IMF: Variants Can Still Hurt Manufacturing Recovery
After a year of on-and-off manufacturing in the US, UK, and the eurozone, demand for goods surged early last week. Factories set growth records in April and May, suppliers started to recover, and US crude hit its highest price point since pre-COVID. As vaccination efforts immunise much of the US and UK populations, manufacturers are now able to fully ramp up their supply chains. In fact, GDP growth could approach double-digits by 2022.
Now, the ISM productivity measure has surpassed the 50-point mark that separates industry expansion from contraction. Since U.S. president Biden passed his US$1.9tn stimulus package and the UK purchasing managers index (PMI) increased to 65.6, both sides of the Atlantic are facing a much-welcomed manufacturing recovery.
Lingering Concerns Over COVID
Even as Spain, France, Italy, and Germany race to catch up, and mining companies pushed the FTSE 100 index of list shares to a monthly high of 7,129, some say that UK and US markets still suffer from a lack of confidence in raw material supplies. Yes, the Dow Jones has made up its 19,173-point crash of March 2020, and MSCI’s global stock index is at an all-time high.
Yet manufacturers around the world realise that these wins will be short-lived until pandemic supply chain bottlenecks are solved. If we keep the status quo, consumers will pay the price. In April, inflation in Germany reached 2.4%, and across the EU’s 19 member countries, overall prices have increased at an unusual pace. Some ask: Is this true recovery?
IMF: Current Boom Could Falter
Even as Elon Musk tweeted about chip shortages forcing Tesla to raise its prices, UK mining demand skyrocketed; housing markets lifted; and the pound sterling gained value. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), however, cautioned that manufacturing recovery won’t last long if COVID mutates into forms our vaccinations can’t touch. Kristalina Georgieva, Washington’s IMF director, noted that fewer than 1% of African citizens have been vaccinated: “Worldwide access to vaccines offers the best hope for stopping the coronavirus pandemic, saving lives, and securing a broad-based economic recovery”.
Across the globe, manufacturing companies are keeping a watchful eye on new developments in the spread of COVID. Though US FDA officials don’t think we’ll have to “start at square one” with new vaccines, the March 2021 World Economic Outlook states that “high uncertainty” surrounds the projected 6% global growth. Continued manufacturing success will in large part depend on “the path of the pandemic, the effectiveness of policy support, and the evolution of financial conditions”.
Mathias Cormann, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) concurred—without global immunisation, the estimated economic boom expected by 2025 could go kaput. “We need to...pursue an all-out effort to reach the entire world population”, Australia’s finance minister added. US$50bn to end COVID across the world, they imply, is a small investment to restart our economies.