As someone who has spent his career developing a deep knowledge of manufacturing and software, I’m rapidly becoming a major “fan” of 3D printing. The technology offers exciting possibilities that can radically change multiple industries including manufacturing. According to Industry Week, “a survey by the global consultancy PwC found that 67% of manufacturers are adopting 3-D printing in some way, most frequently in prototyping.” At the same time, ubiquitous 3D printing introduces new complexities around intellectual property ownership, counterfeiting and diversion issues that we’ve yet to fully confront.
3D printing has the potential to globally disrupt multiple industrial processes and supply chains. In the case of manufacturing on an assembly line, parts or products can be created through 3D printing on-site, potentially eliminating the need for separate parts suppliers. Take a look at how one leading industrial company, GE Aviation, is leveraging additive manufacturing in the video below.
“Product Recall.” Just these two words are enough to strike fear in the heart of a manufacturer. As John Kern points out in his blog, The Internet of Everything Will Help Solve Problems That Lead To Recalls, “Product recalls can be a headache for customers and consumers, but a financial nightmare for manufacturers.” Not only are longer-term corporate reputations and brand promises deflated, but even more insidious, shorter-term litigation and financial liabilities become a daily reality for industrial companies facing recalls.
Issues like the recent Takata air-bags, Blue Bell ice cream and other high profile cases garner news headlines almost every day. Manufacturers continue to wrestle with how to establish robust product design methodologies, component through finished-product traceability and genealogy (including context), vendor accountability and supply chain rigor–as well as production controls and visibility–all in order to avoid future issues with recalls and ensure quality output. And every sub-segment of manufacturing has its own set of related regulations adding a layer of regional complexity to the problem–whether it’s pharma, automotive, consumer packaged goods, high tech, metals, machine builders or otherwise.
The infographic below provides some food for thought with examples of the impact of recalls and how the Internet of Everything (IoE) enables the Connected Factory and a digital manufacturing world where product recalls and quality issues are less the norm and more of an anomaly.
IoE and Connected Manufacturing with predictive analytics and connected supply chains all converge to enable a platform to truly put an end to the tyranny of recalls. With a converged factory/OT and IT/enterprise network, manufacturers tap into the intelligence and accumulated analytics, to further drive innovations and improvements not just in production processes but also development and engineering, so that products are designed AND produced more robustly.
From my home in North Carolina to San Diego, to Atlanta and all the way to Greater China—Shanghai, Shenzhen and Taipei—throughout April, I am presenting at several Manufacturing industry, Supply Chain executive, and Internet of Things (IoT) regional events, along with visiting all types of manufacturing customers. Earlier this month, I was at a customer advisory where we met with industrial thought leaders eager to share experiences (see Tony Shakib’s blog, “The Digital Factory: Real Solutions and Real Outcomes”). In the meantime, several of my colleagues exhibited Cisco industrial solutions this past week at Hannover Messe in Germany. Across the globe, manufacturers are wrestling with how to capture the opportunity and value associated with IoT and Internet of Everything (IoE) strategies. The good news is that the industry is thriving, alive and well and at the forefront of IoT adoption.
At the IoT Regional Forum in Atlanta last week, I had the opportunity to meet some manufacturing companies from the region and hear first-hand the challenges and address questions they had regarding automation and networking and the convergence of IT and OT, from technology to culture to organization. What I hear repeatedly are questions on how to tie together the various islands of automation and information that exist throughout most factories and across manufacturing enterprises. In addition, the lack of one integrated view results in delayed decision-making and responses to issues and problems that arise, and inhibit the introduction of new products and business models.
Often, we will assist our industrial customers with this IT/OT convergence by recommending a pilot or proof of concept approach to adopt wired-and-wireless networking architectures for use cases that demonstrate quick results and impact, and then more broadly adopt the technology across that and other plants within the enterprise. Interestingly, ARC analyst Greg Gorbach recently wrote up a blog proposing a “Let’s Just Try it” approach in profiling our customer Stanley Black and Decker.
I recently participated in a Cisco advisory board meeting attended by some of our leading manufacturing customers. There was a lot of discussion about the tough challenges the industry is facing. Flexibility, agility, and managing costs were hot topics. Traditional manufacturing environments with manual processes, independent systems, and siloed data create a lack of visibility into real-time operations and result in delayed responses to quality issues and inventory waste. Many manufacturing organizations are starting to take their first steps towards becoming digital. Let’s take a look at what that means and why making the transformation to a digital factory is the next wave of evolution. Read More »