How American Manufacturing can become “Smarter”

There are many opportunities today for manufacturers to expand the learnings Silicon Valley has applied to other industries. Through the use of advanced software solutions, artificial intelligence and devices, organizations in every sector from retail to construction are increasing efficiencies, reducing waste and growing profit with smart strategies. Current applications of these types of technologies “is just the beginning.”

True, many American manufacturers are already using technology, data and IoT devices to measure every aspect of operability in a factory. But smart operations are about “harvesting as much data as possible,” putting it in the cloud, processing it with artificial intelligence, and then using the results to make factories reach their full potential of productivity and efficiency. In fully optimized factories, like some operated by Samsung and Apple, virtually everything is measured and analyzed to continually make it smarter.

Every detail of the factor is measured by sensors pounding data into a centralized repository where is can be processes to optimize production. The only humans present are there to fix the machines doing all the work.

“Nearly 70% of all industrial companies will be using some form of digitization by the year 2020. More than 80% expect to see reductions in costs and gains in revenues as a result of their advanced digitization efforts.

Most organizations are starting to achieve some level of smart insight and strategies through digitization. A recent survey by PwC found that nearly 70% of all industrial companies will be using some form of digitization by the year 2020. More than 80% of these companies said they also expect to see both reductions in costs and gains in revenues as a result of their advanced digitization efforts.

A big part of the challenge for manufacturers is properly using their existing hardware. Manufacturers may need to justify the cost of upgrades to new machines equipped with sensors and data ports. But the biggest changes may be in systems and processes. The shift to smart technologies has put “tremendous pressure” on manufacturers to disrupt current business models.

Companies need to integrate siloed data systems to develop integrated assembly lines that seamlessly deliver information from all partners to the factory floor to customers. Front- and back-office solutions also need interoperability to allow sales reps real-time visibility into inventory and production. And data analysis will need to be refined enough to show things like how ambient temperature impacts production or how to reduce unplanned downtime when a machine breaks.

To survive in this environment, enterprises should “focus on connectivity.” This will help ensure that new systems can be deployed quickly and work seamlessly with the company’s existing assets.

Craig Guillot :Craig Guillot is a business writer based in New Orleans, La. His work has appeared in Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, CNNMoney.com and CNBC.com. You can read more about his work at www.craigdguillot.com.