There’s a famous line from the 1975 movie “Jaws,” when the characters finally see the killer shark they’ve been chasing in their boat for days—a huge, 25-foot monster. The sheriff takes one look at the shark and says, “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
I think that’s how manufacturers are going to feel—if they don’t already—when they look at the coming 4th Industrial Revolution.
A Connected World
To understand what will be required, we can start with the essential feature of the Industrial Internet: its connectedness.
Instead of the traditional silos of operation that have existed since the first industrial revolution, everything and everyone in the Industrial Internet will be connected in close collaboration and synchronization, mostly through the Internet. This is what is meant by the Internet of Things (IoT), or when we talk specifically about the manufacturing world, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
With the arrival of IIoT, there will no longer be separate silos for corporate planning, product design, manufacturing execution, supply chain logistics, quality management, manufacturing intelligence, analytics and so on. Rather, there will be a single seamless system with information flowing upstream and downstream, and across organizational structures, throughout the lifecycle of production operations.
If you’re tempted to think this is in the distant future, consider AT&T, a member of the Industrial Internet Consortium. According to an article on techradar.com, AT&T already has more than 18.5 million machines connected to the Internet.
Connectedness is a requirement, but it’s not the only one. People, systems and machines need to do more than exchange information. They must be able to do it in meaningful ways. They must understand each other. They must communicate. This will require a new kind of manufacturing platform.
Manufacturing 2.0: It’s Time for a Bigger Platform
The concepts of Manufacturing Execution System (MES) and Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) have evolved over the years as the importance of automation, performance improvement and globalization has grown. MES was initially developed to manage production processes at a single plant. Over time, plant-based MES applications evolved into MOM platforms, suitable for global management of a wider scope of operations. These platforms take a broader view of execution in the enterprise, managing activities like quality, maintenance, and warehouse, as well as production.
Increasingly and to varying degrees, MOM platforms also provide visibility into manufacturing intelligence as well as external connectivity to supply chains. I’ll take a deeper “dive” into this topic in my next post.
Now, with the advent of the 4th Industrial Revolution, we are actually seeing the manifestation of what Gartner first coined as “Manufacturing 2.0” back in 2010. Roll back your time machines to a day when much of the world was still reeling from a global recession, and investment in manufacturing systems was at an all-time low. During this time, the need for greater visibility, control and synchronization was acute – especially across global operations. It looks like the IIoT might just be an impetus to help drive this initial vision forward to fruition.
The concept of Manufacturing 2.0 is that of a platform—or a connected set of platforms—that reaches both deeply into manufacturing activities, and broadly across organizations including enterprise planning, product design, all manufacturing-related systems, and the supply chain.
This new world demands full digitization of the value chain, breaking down the barriers between engineering and manufacturing operations, through the virtualization of shared processes. This virtualization will help manufacturers in standardizing the digital repository so that processes and workflows can be simulated and implemented faster, leading to significant business advantages such as ease of continuous improvement and accelerated New Product Introduction.
The idea of a Digital Twin, first proposed by Dr. Michael Grieves at the University of Michigan in 2003, is a great example of how this concept is quickly becoming a reality.
A Short List of Requirements
So far, here is a high-level list of requirements we have discussed in order for the vision of Manufacturing 2.0 to actually be achieved, which includes manufacturers being able to:
- Provide integration across the “silos” of operations, machines and people
- Work across manufacturing operations, both internally and externally (e.g., ERP, product planning, logistics, workforce, supply chain, customers)
- Gather and process virtually all manufacturing-related data (e.g., parts, warehouse, process, assembly)
- Interface to all devices, fixed or mobile
- Do all of the above continuously, and in real-time
I ended the last article by saying that manufacturers should ask themselves: “What should I be doing to get ready? What will the platform requirements be, and how can I start building it?”
This post has detailed the platform requirements. As for getting started, manufacturers can take any step in the areas mentioned above as soon as possible, so long as the technology chosen is part of a clear path toward the requirements of Manufacturing 2.0. Even if you don’t need all of those capabilities today, you soon will. If you want to participate in the benefits of the 4th Industrial Revolution, to borrow the movie phrase, you’re going to need a bigger boat.
In my next article, I’ll address what may be the most important issue of all: the role of the user.
If you liked this article, here are others you might also find interesting:
- The 4th Industrial Revolution is Coming – But What Is It?
- The 4th Industrial Revolution is Coming – It’s Like Déjà vu All Over Again!
- How the 4th Industrial Revolution Impacts Warehouse Management
- IoT and Energy Efficiency Spur Automation Investments – with MOM in the Middle
- Leveraging the Industrial Internet for Operational Excellence