Q&A with Intel: Looking at the Factory of the Future

In innovation, Internet of Things, Lean manufacturing, manufacturing, manufacturing operations, mfg, q&A, supply chain, technology by Generis0 Comments

When looking at the future of manufacturing, we wanted to gather thoughts and insights from our American Manufacturing Summit elite speaker Dr. Irene J. Petrick of Intel, an internationally recognized expert in strategic road mapping and innovation, and the Director of Business Strategy for the Industrial and Energy Solutions Division in Intel’s Internet of Things Group. At Intel, it is Dr.Petrick’s job to provide leadership in the integration of business and technology strategy and to develop solutions that will drive exciting technology to create smart edge devices and end-to-end solutions.

In the manufacturing space, there have been major shifts towards smart manufacturing, with a goal to optimize the manufacturing process entirely. Dr. Irene Petrick believes that smart manufacturing triggers are likely to emerge from needs-based business drivers such as operational efficiency and flexibility, ROI, and enhanced customer relationships, and social accelerators such as a growing middle class with an appetite for customized products and a declining manufacturing workforce. Solutions that support the convergence of operating technologies and information technologies will accelerate this manufacturing transformation. It is important to note that there are four shifts that drive smart manufacturing adoption:

  • Modular Manufacturing
  • Digital Threads
  • Networked Ecosystems
  • Human and A.I. Choreography

Today’s manufacturers have the opportunity to increase the transparency in their operations using IoT technologies that will acquire and transfer data from the asset through the fog to the cloud, resulting in efficiency ROI, and closer customer relationships, Dr. Petrick notes.

Fixed mass production systems of today must migrate to more flexible, software defined operations.  Automation and control, material handling, inventory management and enterprise-wide systems will need to be integrated to enable real-time operations and decision-making.

How has technology changed the manufacturing industry, and how can manufacturers use technology to improve their operations and culture of the business?

Globalization begets competition from every direction, making it necessary for industrial companies to continually innovate, increase product quality, and optimize their operations, assets, processes, facilities, and workforce with the goal of lowering operating expenditures (OpEx). Achieving these business goals necessitates a higher level of flexibility and agility, which may require a move away from OEM proprietary control systems that lock manufacturers into a single vendor’s solutions. It is also important to implement robust data and network security technology to protect intellectual property (IP) and personal information from cyber attack, keeping trade secrets out of the hands of competitors and criminals. Technology can also be used to maintain a safe, healthy, and collaborative work environment that fosters a high level of productivity. The factory of the future will be smarter and more agile. Specifically, among the key trends and developments that we anticipate driving operations in this digital industrial age:

  • Digitization is transforming how manufacturers need to think about human capital management. The workforce will need greater digital literacy to have high tech and collaboration skills and will need to be able to work cross-functionally as well as with increasingly intelligent machines.
  • Future factory designs and footprints will likely favor modularization, with micro-factories capable of mass customization using such technologies as 3D printing as well as digital manufacturing technologies.
  • The manufacturing innovation process will likely evolve to be more open and extended, with collaborative models that span internal as well as external constituencies.
  • Supply chains will become highly integrated, increasingly intelligent, and even self-managing.
  • New business models based around outcome-based services will emerge, enabling manufacturers to diversify their revenue streams and provide greater value to customers.
  • Factory floor machines will become increasingly intelligent and able to work side by side with people, offering manufacturers higher levels of efficiency and productivity.
  • Cognitive computing and analytic techniques will enable production environments to self-configure, self-adjust, and self-optimize, leading to greater agility, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness.
How can manufacturers better implement and sustain a successful factory of the future?

Industrial processes in the age of big data, security breaches, and information and operations technology (IT/OT) convergence require edge-to-cloud solutions that Intel is uniquely well-positioned to deliver. Our collaboration with a diverse ecosystem of leading providers – from device to edge computing, to data center and cloud, and across the solutions spectrum from analytics to IoT technologies – enables a broad range of secure, interoperable, multi vendor solutions that translate into real business value.To help industrial companies achieve their business goals they need to connect the unconnected, deploy smart, connected things, and move to a software-defined autonomous world. Intel® architecture, reference designs, and ecosystem components are optimizing manufacturing processes and operations, increasing worker safety and productivity, and providing the analytics-based insights needed to compete.

Intel is actively participating in standards development, helping to create interoperable and scalable architectures that will accelerate digital manufacturing adoption.  As a technology company, Intel is positioning itself to be a trusted advisor for companies seeking to migrate their production operations.

In your experience, what has the outcome been like when a manufacturer is able to implement a successful, smart manufacturing initiative?

Smart manufacturing initiatives are often undertaken to reduce operating costs and increase throughput. But what starts out as a cost-based motivation is often overshadowed by the power that unleashing data at the machine operating level provides. Those companies that successfully transition to a more digitally intensive manufacturing environment often find that building trust with their workforce is a critical factor toward successful implementation.

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