The Industrial Revolution Continues

By: ARC Advisory Group

Trends and initiatives, such as Smart Manufacturing, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), and Industrie 4.0 are not mere hype; they are initiatives to stimulate manufacturing innovation, with the twin objectives of boosting industrial GDP growth and improving resilience during economic crises. Adopting innovations stemming from these initiatives can therefore be ad-vantageous for all industry stakeholders. Companies should keep abreast of new technologies and innovations that different initiatives have to offer, and choose those that are likely to help in charting corporate strategy and achieving the company’s goals. This paper discusses a series of commonly encountered objectives of smart manufacturing that can serve as a starting point for a company-specific approach. It also provides guidelines for com-panies to create, implement, and maintain a smart manufacturing strategy.

The case studies presented in this paper demonstrate that practical imple-mentations are feasible and can create value today. However, with the pace of innovation in smart manufacturing and Industrial IoT it is imperative for companies to be agile and flexible. Although ideas and technologies un-dergo major disruptive changes in a relatively shorter timeframe, as for example with the introduction of industrial data analytics or Industrial IoT, in practice changes in industrial operations are implemented gradually.

It is therefore important to establish a smart manufacturing strategy that is flexible and adaptable over time. We define requirements for a platform upon which smart manufacturing solutions can be built, and that is likely to be able to fulfill that role over many years. These requirements include scalability in scope, from local, machine specific to global multisite imple-mentations; across devices and networks, from controllers to server parks, across disciplines and industry domains to provide cross-company applica-tions. The e-F@ctory Alliance, founded by Mitsubishi Electric Corporation provides the platform that corresponds to these requirements. The e-F@ctory and the CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA) together unify more than 3000 partners covering a wide range of functionalities to build smart manufacturing applications. Four user case studies are described that demonstrate the versatility, flexibility, and scalability the Alliance brings to the table.

The paper concludes with a recommended process to enable companies to adapt smart manufacturing and industrial IoT to anticipated innovations.

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