The technology conundrum: the driving force in global change for the manufacturing sector
The manufacturing sector is in the midst of a period of great change, as growing and emerging physical and digital connectivity disrupts the global landscape, creating far-reaching implications for business and locations.
Last year was a year of disruption in many respects – as events such as Brexit and the US Presidential election affected both economic performance and how businesses operated on the global stage. For the manufacturing sector, macro events such as these also carried risk, particularly in terms of regulation and market access. However, there is also something bigger on the horizon that will impact how and where we work – technology.
Disruptive technologies such as additive manufacturing and Robotic Process Automation are nothing new. However 2016 marked the year that they shook up production cycles, made businesses re-think strategies, and threatened key manufacturing locations’ ability to be fit for purpose for manufacturing needs.
The automotive industry is a good example where change is already happening. Through the advent of electrification and driverless vehicles, diverse mobility and connectivity, the supply chain within the automotive industry has evolved. We now see software service supporting automotive design – an exemplary shift of where manufacturers are now offering a more proactive rather than reactive offering, one that really emphasises product care.
This new norm is complex; a horizontally-structured ecosystem of design, technology production and service, which will redefine how products and services are created and delivered – and, most importantly, by whom.
The biggest impact of this period of accelerating change and digital transformation is that pure cost reduction strategies are being challenged. Businesses are increasingly honing in on locations with the greatest potential for creating value, and identifying talent that will enable them to create and deliver this value successfully. Traditionally-successful locations will be challenged by the need for smarter products, production and supply chain management filtering into demand for more sophisticated manufacturing space. For which the term ‘shed’ certainly does a disservice.
What is likely to emerge is a polarisation. Innovation, design and development will relocate to high-cost locations. Cost-sensitive locations, in contrast, will host pure production and assembly strategies.
Our annual Manufacturing Risk Index surveys the manufacturing sector, assessing how political, economic, technological and environmental risks are managed during portfolio assessment and site selection by occupiers.
This year it finds Asia Pacific countries continuing to dominate in the top 10, occupying seven places within the top half of the established index. A lot of Asia’s success can be attributed to its ability to evolve to keep up with disruptors. This has resulted in varying, maturing levels of technology adoption across the region, as well as a region-specific focus on areas of innovation to promote growth.
One thing is clear – failure to keep up with the breakneck pace of innovation transformation in manufacturing carries a significant risk. This is both to businesses which will lose out to competitors who are embracing it, as well as manufacturing locations that fail to recognise the importance of upskilling local service and talent.
Manufacturers must look to reassess their business models, adapt to this new environment and find the optimal balance between physical production and digital design and development, in order to keep ahead.
By Neil McLocklin, Partner, Strategic Consulting at Cushman & Wakefield
Follow @ManufacturingGL and @NellWalkerMG
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.