Let's not sugarcoat this. The world's manufacturing base is at war with COVID-19 and its destructive, disruptive effects on everything from supply chains to daily production levels and, ultimately, the health of everyone. Getting ahead of this curve will require a much more aggressive approach to using data.
Like the rest of the world, the factory is rapidly becoming more interconnected. In the factory of the future, data sharing occurs across a complex network of machines, parts, products and value chain participants, including machinery providers and logistics companies. As a result, today, more than ever, manufacturers face the challenge of securely sharing data within and outside the factory walls.
Those of us who have been long-time football fans recall years ago seeing coaching staff treading the sidelines holding clipboards with sheets of paper flapping in the breeze. As players came back to the bench, the coaches would scribble out plays or flip through play sheets to diagnose what just happened out on the field.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industry 4.0 are transforming the world of manufacturing. The two terms are relatively interchangeable and basically mean the same thing: Manufacturers using internet-enabled technologies to improve their business strategies and outcomes.
"Out with the old, in with the new" is a catchy idiom. But, it can also be costly advice, especially for a manufacturer. Replacing its numerous older machines can cost anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars.
Robots are an important piece of the Industry 4.0 puzzle. Tomorrow's smart factories will depend on new types of machines, such as collaborative and mobile devices that are interconnected. Artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing and data analytics will also make industrial robots more reliable than ever.
Sir Humphry Davy did more than just invent electric welding in 1800 when he created electric arcs between two carbon electrodes using batteries. He set a precedent for welding innovation that continues to this day.
Maybe the greatest benefit of a new technology is its lack of historical baggage, thereby enabling industry professionals to approach it with an open mind and a clean slate. Edge computing currently enjoys this status in manufacturing.