AI Will Amplify The Manufacturing Workforce

AI Will Amplify The Manufacturing Workforce

Jul 5, 2017

By Jeff Kavanaugh, Manufacturing Business Technology Every day, we hear of new examples of artificial intelligence (AI) being used to support, or supplant, the human workforce. Many of these discussions revolve around consumer-facing situations. However, the AI wave could have an even larger impact on the manufacturing sector, with its complex processes and machine-to-machine interactions spanning products and assets, within factories and across global supply networks. This was highlighted in a recent study that investigated the approach of senior decision-makers in large organizations toward AI and its future applications. Consider the digitization of factories. Flush with data from a sensor-enabled landscape, they’ve had a chance to join the ranks of the information intelligentsia and effectively drive rich floor output. Unfortunately, some in the manufacturing sector have ignored or even denied the disruptive impact of digital technologies. It took leaders like GE to envision how the Industrial Internet could become real for manufacturers.  Smart Manufacturers are Automating Data According to Oxford Economics, the Industrial Internet, with its connected sensors, represents more than 60 percent of the gross domestic product for the top 20 national economies. So for those using data automation to make more informed decisions, the opportunity — and also competition — is exploding with the emerging Industrial Internet binding products, equipment, and systems in a web of communication. Eventually, Industrial IoT will permeate global supply chains, allowing manufacturers to accelerate product launch, coordinate demand-supply planning, and optimize production, in ways not possible without such advanced collaboration. Currently, the Industrial Internet is still in early development, but early adopters are seeing anecdotal successes as proof of concept projects continue to mount.  Smart Manufacturers Can Automate Processes, too The recent Infosys study, Ampliyfing Human Potential: Towards Purposeful Artificial Intelligence, surveyed 1,600 IT and business decision-makers from organizations of more than 1,000 employees with $500M or more annual revenue and from a range of sectors. The research was carried out in the U.S. and six other manufacturing and industrial nations. It found companies planning to or currently using AI technology, such as robotics, anticipate a nearly 40 percent boost to their organization’s revenue by 2020. The economics of investing in robotic efficiencies is not lost on manufacturers. An example is...

Why Smart Manufacturing Can Be a Dumb Idea

Why Smart Manufacturing Can Be a Dumb Idea

Dec 19, 2016

By Steven Blue, President & CEO of Miller Ingenuity Featured on IEN Don’t bother with smart manufacturing if you have a dumb workforce. And if your workforce is dumb, it’s your fault, not theirs. Someone asked me recently my thoughts on Smart Manufacturing. The so-called IT revolution in the factory. They couldn’t believe that I didn’t see Smart Manufacturing as the salvation of American manufacturing. Don’t misunderstand me. Smart Manufacturing has a place in reviving American manufacturing. I have a smart factory. We employ the latest in pick to light systems, automated CNC machines and seamless integration from order inquiry to accounts receivable. But that isn’t where I started my revolution. And you shouldn’t either. The problem with many CEO’s today is they have turned away from the astonishing potential of the workforce and turned toward automation instead. Big mistake. But I hear it all the time. What is the sense in spending millions on automating your factory if our workforce could care less? What is the sense in buying expensive machine tools if your workforce can’t wait to get to the bowling alley, yet drag themselves to work? I’ll tell you why. Because too many CEO’s view their employees as expendable assets. They should view them as renewable resources. And renew them. Don’t bother with smart manufacturing if you have a dumb workforce. And if your workforce is dumb, it’s your fault, not theirs. Don’t bother with an IT revolution. Your revolution has to start with a “Smart Workforce”. You have to make a new compact with your employees. You need to ignite the human spirit in your workforce. Imagine this. What would happen if every day your employees came to work excited to do better today than they did yesterday? Imagine how your company would soar if your employees were absolutely dedicated to supporting the mission and each other in attaining it? Imagine what it would be like if your employees were like Cirque de Soleil performers? This is the place where I get blank stares from many CEO’s. They don’t like the “soft stuff.” “Give me the hard stuff,” they say. “Tell me how to build a smart factory, not a...

How U.S. Manufacturing Is About to Get Smarter

How U.S. Manufacturing Is About to Get Smarter

Nov 15, 2016

By Christopher Mims, Wall Street Journal The aim is to make factories more productive, less costly to operate and more reliable Here’s a paradox of America’s highly automated, increasingly labor-independent manufacturing: While sophisticated, for the most part, it isn’t all that high-tech. Picture metal-stamping machines in an auto-parts factory that can easily have a long useful life of up to 40 years. Now picture the assembly line just outside Austin, Texas, where Samsung Electronics Co. makes core chips for Apple Inc.’s iPhones. I toured the facility last summer. It is a pristine white environment filled with WALL-E-like robots ferrying boxes full of silicon wafers from one station to the next. Every detail of the factory is measured by sensors pouring data into a centralized repository where it can be processed to optimize production. The only humans present are there to fix the machines doing all the work. But that means there is still a big opportunity to use in manufacturing all the learning Silicon Valley has applied to, for example, advertising. “People are really thinking about applying venture capital and technology innovation to things that are 10 times the size of the ad market,” says Jon Sobel, chief executive of Sight Machine Inc., which helps companies process all the data coming off their assembly lines. Manufacturing is a $12 trillion industryglobally a year. Annual spending on ads globally is just north of a half a trillion dollars. This transformation in the way we make things has many names—the fourth industrial revolution, the industrial Internet of Things, smart factories—but at base it is about harvesting as much data as possible from all the machines in factories, shipping it to the cloud, parsing it with artificial intelligence, and using the results to make those factories more productive, less costly to operate, and more reliable. The goal is to break data out of its silos—the machine, the factory floor, the shipping and logistics system—and pool it in a way allows for real-time decision-making. Here are examples of what this “revolution” can accomplish: deciphering how ambient air temperature affects productivity of an entire factory. Or ramping up and down production in a way that is more responsive to...

Pratt & Whitney Searching for Products, Services to Ramp…

Pratt & Whitney Searching for Products, Services to Ramp…

Nov 9, 2016

“Pratt & Whitney Searching for Products, Services to Ramp Up Monthly Engine Production” By Brett Brune, Editor, Smart Manufacturing Manufacturing Engineering CHICAGO—Pratt & Whitney is aggressively searching for smart manufacturing solutions that will allow it to successfully ramp up monthly production of engines for military and commercial aerospace engines, Kimberley Hagerty, Hot Section Module Center lean transformation manager, said yesterday at the 2nd Smart Factory World Symposium. In 2010 P&W delivered about 55 engines a month. In 2017, that number grows to about 100 engines a month. And in 2024, it continues to climb to about 158 engine deliveries a month, she said.  “And I’m doing that with 20-year-old technology and 20-year-old manufacturing processes and a very well-seasoned workforce” that adds significant complexity to the digital manufacturing transformation of the East Hartford, CT-based firm, Hagerty  said during a panel talk on best practices.  “So the challenges ahead of me are steep.” In an interview with Smart Manufacturing magazine after the panel discussion, Hagerty said she is “fresh into the exploratory phase” to find products and services her firm needs. She has mapped out her requirements. “Now, I’m reaching out to the service providers” and scheduling visits to firms using products and services that might well work for Pratt & Whitney. She joined the firm five years ago, after retiring from the US Air Force as the chief of strategic planning and analysis. The only tech move she’s made so far for her division at Pratt & Whitney is to enroll in the Forcam Academy, for shop-floor management. Forcam software was already deployed at a P&W Facility in Middletown, CT, and GKN, one of Pratt & Whitney’s suppliers. “Forcam is one of the resources I reached out to as far as a serviced provider, because they provide a service I need from a machine health monitoring and data analytics standpoint.” Hagerty told the crowd at yesterday’s smart manufacturing conference, which Forcam organized, that she commonly uses over 1,000 machines in four different states to build one customer’s engine. “I’ll start production in Connecticut, do an interim shipment to another facility, do another manufacturing step there and send it to another facility in another state and do another...

Leverage Smart Manufacturing to Succeed in the New…

Leverage Smart Manufacturing to Succeed in the New…

Jul 16, 2015

“Leverage Smart Manufacturing to Succeed in the New Global Economy” By Raj Batra, InTech Magazine To compete, smart manufacturing is going to be vital. According to McKinsey, a global management consulting firm, 80 percent of production costs are determined in the design phase. Waiting to look at production design until a product is being assembled is too late. In our company we talk about integrating the virtual and the real worlds of manufacturing, including all phases—design, planning, engineering, execution, and services—to improve cost and efficiency. Integration of the virtual and real worlds of production has been a priority since 2006. We have made heavy investments in product life-cycle management software to integrate with automation systems. The manufacturing sector is heating up in the U.S. Does the U.S. have an advantage in smart manufacturing? Smart manufacturing plays to the unique strengths of the U.S. The U.S. is the world leader in software development; 79 percent of global software revenue is generated by companies headquartered in the U.S. Software is driving the manufacturing revolution, and this is a sustainable advantage. Energy is also a huge differentiator for the U.S. Last year we became the world’s largest producer of natural gas. Natural gas prices in the U.S. are about one-third of Europe’s and one-quarter of Asia’s. Our natural resource abundance is relatively new, but significantly, what made it possible was our long-standing prowess in advanced manufacturing. U.S. manufacturing renaissance – reality or hype? Manufacturing continues to outperform the U.S. economy overall. In addition, consumers are regaining their appetites for big-ticket items such as automobiles. The automotive space is expected to grow by 5 percent this year, according to the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation. There are many signals of increased investments here in the U.S., including low consumer debt and rising consumer wealth, as indicated by rising stock market values and home prices. Looking to the fundamentals overall, the U.S. is the world’s largest market. Customer proximity to the manufacturing process is critical. There is a realization that manufacturing and innovation/research and development (R&D) need to be co-located. Manufacturing is once again strategic to the enterprise. It is a C-suite topic again, not a black box or...