REPORT: 2016 to be a 'tipping point' for manufacturing technology
According to the annual Technology Landscape report by US-based software company Citrix, 2016 is set to be a watershed year for manufacturing. The industry is showing signs of reinvention in areas including automation, 3d printing and data analysis, and the next five years looks to be pivotal in realising this change.
SEE MORE: Top 10 manufacturing trends 2014
As Guy Bieber, director of strategy and architecture at Citrix explains, “A number of things are going to happen over the next few years as the industry changes. For instance, 3D printing in many materials and simple electronics will enable customization and manufacturing to come closer to the point of consumption, leading to more distributed and custom manufacturing work.”
According to Bieber, The breakthrough moment will come when one customized part costs the same per unit to produce as a million of the same part.
Improved resolution in 3d printing, the ability to print in new materials and increased affordability will influence this end result. According to Citrix, this revolution will happen in 2016, due to a number of factors outlined below:
Affordable robotics: The increasing affordability of general-purpose robotics is influencing the industry’s reinvention. More affordable robots will mean smaller manufacturing companies can turn to automation.
According to Bieber, “By 2016, manufacturing jobs will start to shift around more intricate work, including the training and maintaining of robots, as well as working on optimizing manufacturing processes.”
The rise of robots in the manufacturing sector has sparked a debate about employment, however Citrix believes that further investment in robotics won’t mean massive workforce reductions. Instead it is thought that new roles will be created by the automation trend, catalyzing a new era of innovation and product development.
The Internet-of-Things: Another driver in the reinvention of the sector is the Internet-of-Things (IoT). Citrix believes that the manufacturing industry is going to continue to rely on data to make operations much more streamlined and efficient.
Sometimes referred to by other names such as Industry 4.0, the IoT will connect over 30 billion machines in 2020 and create $1.9 trillion of added value by that time, according to technology research firm Gartner. At the factory level, harnessing data – and most importantly, making sense of and making decisions based on it – will see real value created.
Benefits of IoT include predictive maintenance of machinery, supply chain visibility and ‘bridging the gap’ between production and those at the corporate level.
“As organisations increasingly look to use IoT and create applications for it, such as how connected devices can be secured, how they will communicate, and how they will work together to do greater things, the hype around IoT will convert into real value,” said Bieber.
Marketing and personalization: Until very recently manufacturing and marketing have been two very separate industries. The manufacturing team would develop the product and the marketing team would pick it up on completion. However, there are some critical examples to show that manufacturers need to pay more attention to the marketing of their product from a manufacturing perspective from day one.
“Ever since Apple demonstrated how great design could create amazing experiences through functionality rather than just aesthetics, many industries have taken notice,” said Bieber.
Differentiating from competitors by user experiences through “disruptive innovation” to “deliver delight” might also sound like something from a TED Talk parody, but it’s already an essential part of success, argues Citrix.
“Consider the mp3 and smartphone markets before Apple,” said Bieber. “Design thinking has become a common mantra in corporate ideology. The important thing here is the customizing of experience. For example, if my manufacturing process allows me to customize my clothes to create a better fit, or a more comfortable hearing aid, it makes for a better experience.”
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.