Excerpted from IIC Tech Brief Digital Transformation in Manufacturing: Key Insights & Future Trends
By Howard Kradjel, VP, Industry Programs, Industrial Internet Consortium
Digital Transformation in manufacturing has been an inevitability for quite some time. In an industry where scalability is everything, digital transformation paves the way for the advanced solutions that make rapid scalability realizable. Organizations can either adopt change willingly and proactively, or forcibly by market demand. Any choice in the matter faced an unlikely dictator this year in the form of a worldwide pandemic. One that some organizations had no choice but to scale in ways they had only previously envisaged, within the context of a long-term strategy.
On the flip side, some manufacturers faced the tough decision of how to move forward and to prioritize investment strategies when the markets they serve had grounded to a resounding halt. In this scenario, organizations could have remained idle, and attempt to shoehorn existing practices into a drastically changed world. The forward thinkers reinvested in technologies that will allow for future growth, reduced risk, and reduced overhead. Results which will become increasingly important as the market becomes more and more attuned to the reality that no one is insulated from natural disaster.
For example, automotive manufacturers currently confront tremendous disruption from companies like Tesla, at a time when their balance sheets have been weakened by reduced vehicle sales during the pandemic. As automotive manufacturers retool their facilities to support market demands for key technologies for autonomous vehicles and vehicle electrification, they depend on digital technologies and must be bold, while at the same time avoid series missteps in their transformation efforts.
The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) was established in 2014 to look ahead to these inevitable changes in business practices, and to form a blueprint for making them realizable. Representing industrial organizations across over thirty nations, our role is to bridge the gap between technology vendors and the industries they serve.
Equipped with a foundational library of horizontal digital transformation expertise, the IIC has enlisted industry to assist in creating solutions that will optimize efficiency, improve business practices, and deliver return on investment. In Q2 2020, the IIC held its Manufacturing Industry Leadership Council (MILC) to draw in the expertise of technology users, who are driving the need for scalable solutions in manufacturing across multiple vertical markets.
A rich tapestry of technologies is being developed to support digital transformation for manufacturing. These include:
- Edge computing and artificial intelligence (AI) to support capabilities such as condition monitoring and predictive maintenance
- Connectivity technology robotics and autonomous systems to enable agile factory automation
- The convergence of operational technologies (OT) with information technologies (IT) to enhance workflows and drive factory efficiencies.
Since the rich tapestry of technologies that underpin digital transformation are complex, the IIC has collaborated with its members to develop a range of testbeds and test drives for industrial companies to establish digital best practices. These collaborative efforts are a rising tide that lifts all ships, in the wake of challenges and opportunities that face us all.
IIC Testbeds are where innovative opportunities can be initiated, thought through, and rigorously tested to ascertain their usefulness and viability before going to market. New technologies, services, processes, and applications can be trialed in a live environment by one (or more) member companies, with the guidance of the IIC Testbed Working Group. Below are some examples of IIC Testbeds that have been making waves in manufacturing, described in the TechBrief:
- Smart Factory Machine Learning for Predictive Maintenance
- Smart Factory Web
- Time Sensitive Networks for Flexible Manufacturing
- Negotiation Automation Platform – future Tech Brief
- INFINTE - SERENA Predictive maintenance use case – future Tech Brief
- Smart Printing Factory – future Tech Brief
- Factory Automation Platform as a Service – future Tech Brief
IIC Test Drives are short-term, rapid-engagement pilots for technology end users to employ and adopt Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technologies. They stimulate IIoT adoption across industry through accelerated implementation. The IIC’s neutral collaboration platform fosters partnering to address leading-edge IIoT use cases in three to six-month projects based upon technology end users' real problems. Below are some examples of IIC Test Drives for manufacturing:
- Intelligent Video
- IoT Sensor Implementation – future Tech Brief
The IIC Tech Brief “Digital Transformation in Manufacturing: Key Insights & Future Trends,” was designed to help manufacturing leaders keep pace with the rapid emergence of new technology. It highlights advancements driven by the IIC’s Manufacturing Industry Leadership Council (MILC), IIC working groups, and IIC members.