The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) or Smart Manufacturing, promises to transform the sector, streamlining operations, reducing downtime and improving profitability. From modernizing factory infrastructure to upgrading or integrating legacy systems, plant managers are struggling to prioritize which investments will deliver the promised higher outputs at lower cost or new business models.
But as the machinery on the factory floor becomes more connected, the volume and variety of data being produced becomes increasingly more complex, often leaving production managers with more questions than answers.
Blockchain in Manufacturing
Blockchain technology will establish trust in global supply chains, manufacturers can dramatically reduce production costs, improve efficiency and unleash new business models and opportunities.
Easing the Burden of Trust
Using blockchain, players in the manufacturing ecosystem can satisfy multiple areas of trust, including the following:
- Protection of design files during and after the journey to the remote printing location.
- Assurance that the 3-D printer can precisely meet desired specifications and quality requirements.
- Verification that the correct original design has been referenced, the right raw materials were used, the 3-D printer operated corrected, and shipping/delivery was timely.
- Assurance of payment and the ability for partners to hold each other accountable.
- Validation of product information through immutable records that verify the ownership of the product’s intellectual property as it moves along the value chain — such as proprietary manufacturing methods and digital rights (to provide ownership and enforce royalty payments, if required).
- Reduced reliance on third-party participants, such as banks, escrow agents, lawyers and even internal accounting functions to measure, minimize or manage risk.
- Reduced need for middle management employees who currently handle much of the above information. In their place, smart contracts can automatically negotiate payment terms and conditions (such as letters of credit).
IoT and Manufacturing
Industrial Camera Systems
Image processing systems built around industrial cameras are already an essential component in automated production. Throughout all steps of production, from the inspection of raw materials and production monitoring (i.e. flaw detection) to final inspections and quality assurance, they are an indispensable part of achieving high efficiency and quality standards.
Deep learning and Manufacturing
Material flow is at the heart of the deep learning-powered factory of the future, taking shape here. AI is literally the vehicle of the transition to Industry 4.0.
How to implement the technology
Applying AI to manufacturing requires a number of key, foundational technologies and process innovations. A smart factory is a networked factory, in which data from supply chains, design teams, production lines and quality control are linked to form a highly integrated, intelligent creation engine.
“If you don’t have the right sensors and the right data, you can’t even begin to get on this journey…this is where the insight is going to come from, and you cannot build a brilliant factory without insight,”.
The ideal intelligent factory, looks something like this. Software captures order data from customers. If, say, an auto maker is running low on fuel nozzles, the software can automatically order production on new units. If an entirely new part is needed, the order is dispatched to design teams. Using 3D printing technologies, they can design, prototype and test a new part in hours instead of days or weeks.
The part then goes into production on a line that’s mostly ‘staffed’ by highly intelligent robots. Each stage is monitored by sensors that feed data to AI and analytics software. If a defect is spotted, or a new part needs to enter production, the software orders the part and the process begins anew.