Smart Manufacturing – A Competitive Necessity: Industry Report Part One

This is the first of three Smart Manufacturing Reports from SME.

Three years ago the world was introduced to Amazon Echo, and its now popular intelligent personal assistant, Alexa. Today, millions of Americans interact with Alexa (or Google Home or Nest) to play a favorite song, turn on the lights, change a thermostat or even see who is ringing the doorbell.

Increased network bandwidths, widespread mobile technology, falling prices, and increased capabilities of sensors and wireless networks have enabled objects in the home to ”talk” with each other and fetch data from outside sources to create the smart home. A similar smart technology revolution is taking place in manufacturing. While still early in the adoption stage, companies are starting to recognize that operations pain points can be alleviated through technology — and the integration of that technology — by embracing Smart Manufacturing.

Actionable data is changing the game. Sensors, enabled by the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), collect information, and cloud-hosted software analyzes it, providing operations managers with intelligence to better manage processes and grow margins. Now is the time for manufacturers to deploy a Smart Manufacturing strategy. There is plenty of opportunity. According to Jonathan Van Wyck, Partner & Managing Director, The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), only 3 percent of companies, based on a BCG survey, are ready for large-scale deployment. However, more than half (56 percent) are already in an experimentation phase.

Also compelling is that 50 percent of organizations are projected to lack sufficient Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data literacy skills to achieve business value by 2020. (Source: “Fostering Data Literacy and Information as a Second Lanaguage: A Gartner Trend Insight Report,” Gartner, February 23, 2018)

While adopting these technologies may seem daunting, it is the only option for manufacturers intent on future growth and innovation. Success by early adopters demonstrates that IIoT technologies add value for facility managers, helping them move beyond data collection to Smart Manufacturing.

This volume discusses the necessity and advantages of moving to a smart facility – or enterprise – in order to thrive in this competitive environment.