Staying competitive with Intelligent Manufacturing
Manufacturers these days have to tackle multifaceted challenges, from the relentless pursuit for high value-added manufacturing, quality and stable operations to meeting higher customers’ expectations on personalised products and services. The business environment is also challenging, with a growing shortage of skilled workers, and escalating labour costs. The good news is there are increasingly more companies with new manufacturing concepts that can address these challenges.
A blueprint for smart factory
An example of a new manufacturing concept is 3-i.Conceived by Omron,3-i is a blueprint for realising smart factories of tomorrow. As elaborated in our previous article, these smart factories have the potential to revolutionise industrial manufacturing, dramatically bolstering productivity, flexibility and design sophistication.
With Omron 3-i, manufacturers can now truly accelerate innovation, using a combination of control evolution, harmony between people and machines, and information and communication technology (ICT) that powers today’s digital economy.
Such a holistic approach to manufacturing offers a slew of benefits. Just imagine data-driven and on-the-fly process optimisation that runs automatically, as well as sophisticated production methods to improve machine availability and overall yield, among many other exciting possibilities.
Our forward-looking concept also encompasses many of the latest disruptive technologies, including artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, and advanced analytics. In addition, 3-iis anchored around three overarching pillars of Intelligent, Integrated and Interactive.
The three pillars of this new manufacturing concept:
- Intelligent – turning factory floor data into high-value information
- Integrated – achieving seamless technology integration through advanced control
- Interactive – create harmonious interaction between humans and machines
Intelligent –the foundation of a smart factory
This pillar is all about improving productivity and quality through ICT, harnessing the data collected from different production stages – from processing to material handling to assembly to inspection to shipping – to provide strategic insights. For instance, one-glance visualisation and evaluation of both machine and production performance.
But before you can attain this new level of manufacturing intelligence and operational visibility, you will need a new generation of industrial automation equipment such as an intelligent machine controller. As a fully integrated automation platform for complete control and management, it can connect to machines, sensors and interface with an external database, where collected data are analysed in a fast and secure way.
A machine controller also supports remote monitoring capability, allowing the users to access all performance and process parameters on-the-go, anytime and anywhere. By turning factory floor data into actionable, high-value information, manufacturers stand to gain tremendously from the following propositions:
Expedite troubleshooting– Monitor all machines and devices through a centralised troubleshooting application. All the major systems can also be easily reset with the touch of a button, and at a more granular level, each individual machine’s software and settings can be remotely restored via a memory card, effortlessly.
Round-the-clock monitoring– Access real-time status update through either remote desktop PCs or mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Consolidate all production data, analyse, and generate performance reports on-the-fly for business leaders to make more informed decisions
Early warning and predictive maintenance– Track important process parameters of machines as a counter measure against catastrophic failure, thus ensuring optimal machine uptime and availability. Taking a more pro-active rather than a reactive approach, utilising historical data, statistics and safe operating thresholds to schedule predictive maintenance.
Practical example of Factory Intelligent
At Toyota’s production facilities across the US, the car maker is putting factory intelligent into action by leveraging Big Data and IoT.
32 smart manufacturing systems have been developed to collect data from the plant floor, which can be visualised through dashboards, reports, and mobile devices. An example is the Toyota Operations Availability System– it effectively slashes downtime by up to 40,000 minutes in one plant alone, and provides productivity gain and maintenance savings totalling US$6 million.
More significantly, Toyota is able to save a whopping US$187 million yearly by capitalising Big Data to track its parts supply chain
Are you ready for Intelligent Manufacturing?
The future of manufacturing is intelligent, connected and highly data-driven. Omron’s 3-i concept closely mirrors this emerging trend, and empowers manufacturers to innovate and accelerate their digital transformation journey. Consumers stand to benefit too, from more consistent higher-quality goods to higher product availability and shorter time to market.
Check out our other 3-i manufacturing series on Integrated and Interactive.