March: An Eye on Smart Manufacturing

Galem Kayo, product manager at Canonical, says 5G eliminates the need for cabling infrastructure in a factory. As a result, a new class of mobile production assets will be introduced and wirelessly connected to factory networks. “The result will be a transformation of factory internal logistics with autonomous mobile units that will optimize work-in-process inventory management,” Kayo explains. “5G will drive the automation of internal factory logistics, leading to a reduction in working capital stuck in work-in-process inventory.”

Looking ahead, 5G, can help drive the future of smart manufacturing by unlocking new business models. “5G connectivity of production assets will unlock machine-as-a-service business models for machine builders,” Kayo adds. “The usage of production assets will be monitored and metered in realtime by OEMs (original-equipment manufacturers), allowing billing by the hour. Such business models will bring more flexibility to manufacturing, with a positive impact on capital productivity.”

As the era of 5G dawns, the future looks bright for smart manufacturing, despite the hurdles that often strand manufacturers in pilot purgatory and the Valley of Death. Georgia Tech’s Dugenske says the IoT has the potential to dramatically change the paradigm in manufacturing. Low-cost information technology, software, and hardware building blocks are allowing companies to easily collect, store, and process vast quantities of data that can be used to improve productivity. In order to harness the data and convert it into information that is actionable, manufacturers need to pursue a carefully articulated strategy that leads directly to decreased costs, faster time to market, and higher quality.

“Large realizations won’t come through serendipity; rather, deliberate and directed investments must be made now to take advantage of all that IoT has to offer,” Dugenske says. “Companies that are capable of developing and implementing an effective IoT strategy can reap great benefits, while companies that are not able to fulfill a strategy will find it increasingly difficult to compete.”

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