The latest digital manufacturing trends aim to connect physical and virtual factory environments to boost productivity, efficiency and profitability. To bridge these two worlds, businesses need to combine some cutting-edge technologies on the road to digital transformation.
Jeremy Shinton of Mitsubishi Electric looks at how to install a winning digital strategy using the right technologies.
Developing and implementing a digital transformation programme is crucial for manufacturing businesses. Advances in data aggregation, analysis, and mining of Big Data as well as Artificial Intelligence (AI), edge computing, automation and networking offer a range of ideal tools to develop accurate digital management.
They help forecast equipment needs using predictive maintenance or optimise monitoring and control strategies aimed at improving production processes. In both cases, digital models allow manufacturers to increase plant productivity and efficiency by offering a clear, in-depth process understanding.
Starting your digital transformation journey
It may be tempting to adopt each innovative technologies in one go, and for a greenfield site, that is often the best approach. But most manufacturing plants have grown, developed and adapted processes over time as market demands have changed. For these, it is important to plan the implementation in stages.
The first step should be to review your assets and determine where best to harvest the data. To develop futureproof automation systems, businesses should design controllable, backward compatible and scalable systems for growing as needed. They can then install solutions that suit current processes, needs and resources while laying the groundwork for future digital migration.
To benefit from Big Data and Smart Manufacturing, plants must increase the accessibility and visibility of information to the shop floor. This may involve upgrading to controllers for collecting and transferring information to other machines, networks or data management platforms.
Another key element of future manufacturing is utilising IIoT technologies to optimise operations from manufacturing processes to maintenance activities. This involves bridging the divide between IT and Operational Technology (OT), enabling the sharing of information for advanced analytics. Using edge computing achieves this with the added benefit of security and real-time processing with AI and Advanced Analytics (AA).
Keeping a step ahead
By selecting the right partners for their digital transformation journeys, manufacturers can experience the latest technologies, modularity and scalability. They support businesses at each stage of their digital strategy and lead them to develop a competitive lead.
Mitsubishi Electric and its UK partner network have a proven track record of helping manufacturing businesses with digital transformation and migration strategies – built on innovative automation products that incorporate the latest technologies. These include intelligent automation systems for local AI processing and delivering a wealth of preventative maintenance features and diagnostic data.