Top mobility trends changing the face of global manufacturing today
From business decision-making to process workflows, user interfaces, and proactive maintenance, new utilizations of mobile devices and apps are drastically changing the way manufacturing gets done. These are the top four trends we’re observing as businesses seek to implement mobility solutions to improve outcomes in their manufacturing functions:
1. Manufacturers Are Utilizing Solutions That Are Future-Ready.For any manufacturer, a major issue that its decision-makers grapple with is how to select and invest in tools that will serve them into the future. Technology changes rapidly — just as the practices and needs of manufacturers do — and betting on the wrong horse can result in a severe waste of resources. When it comes to creating mobility apps for this industry, the sheer number of mobile devices and platforms available add peril to the selection process. An executive does not want to tie their fate to the next Betamax or LaserDisc and saddle their company with a storehouse full of obsolete equipment and software.
2. Efficiency Studies Aren’t Just For Big Manufacturers Anymore. When you talk about industrial engineering of processes — doing time and motion studies to streamline workflows — large-scale manufacturing operations have been investing in these for years. Traditionally, the bigger you are, the more resources that are available to perform such studies. With the rise of new mobility solutions, though, the ability to more easily gather data and analyze processes really has begun arriving in the hands of small and medium enterprises. These companies are now continuously evaluating how workers go about performing their duties and how long actions require. Take a manufacturing or a warehouse environment: mobile devices can help to track the location of workers and equipment — even the time to walk from station to station — and that data can be crunched to root out bottlenecks and improve workflows. Many times, mobility is providing needed solutions as well. Take a case where a worker has to move equipment and then type the new location into a terminal that’s a 20-second walk across the floor, and does that 50 times a day — analysis might find that a terminal built onto the equipment, a more efficient configuration on the floor, or a handheld device each worker carries in a holster would deliver a big savings in efficiency, and ultimately in costs.
3. User Interfaces Are Becoming User-Proof ... Intuitive And Smartphone-Like. The trend in mobile user interfaces in manufacturing is to simplify and streamline the user input as possible. Even the most careful worker may introduce errors when required to type information, or the phrasing they choose may not be uniform and compatible with phrasing used by other workers (at a minimum, it’s taking up their time). The shift now in the industry is toward interfaces where users select their entries as choices from an efficient and well laid-out menu.
To design an efficient interface where a worker can pick-and-choose from structured, workflow options instead of typing, it’s important to thoroughly study and understand the processes and workflow in question. The goal is to include everything the user needs, and nothing they don’t. While businesses are finding great value in taking their existing business apps and developing mobile interfaces for them, it’s critical to understand the stark differences between operating in a desktop and a mobile environment, and to optimize the mobile experience appropriately.
4. Equipment Now Speaks Up When It Has An Issue, And Data Predicts Needs. Intelligence is quickly coming to manufacturing equipment, where smart components can transmit data in real time to provide an actionable understanding of performance, condition, and other key information. Mobility solutions will leverage the Internet of Things to aggregate all this data into apps for easier management and oversight. Over time, this data even presents predictive qualities; for example, if sensors within a piece of manufacturing equipment indicate that it’s vibrating more than usual — and past analysis shows that this situation corresponds with equipment failure — a manager has the requisite information to proactively replace the parts about to fail.
These trends all revolve around goals of increasing manufacturing efficiency and employing mobility solutions to that effect. Whether it’s choosing an app development platform that will last, optimizing workflows, streamlining user interfaces or repairing equipment before it breaks, mobility solutions are certainly introducing powerful new means of achieving efficiency in the manufacturing space.
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.