Today, we’re in the midst of a Fourth Industrial Revolution, driven by intelligent automation. The significance of this revolution is not only about increasing productivity and decreasing costs in manufacturing; it’s in how it’s changing the way we work, communicate, and interact with the world on a global scale. In the past, the management of industrial technology in manufacturing has been divided between IT and operational technology (OT). But in recent years, advances in connectivity, the growth of big data, and the expansion of the IoT with solutions like Dynamics 365 have opened the door for a new breed of intelligent manufacturing tech that is impacting both IT and OT. Today, data-optimized smart machines can receive input from a wide range of sources to enable more agile manufacturing, improve production efficiency, and provide greater visibility into operational performance. For the modern manufacturer, data is no longer just the purview of IT; from supply chain management to the operations floor, data is now ubiquitous across the organization. As data becomes unified across the organization, IT and OT can no longer operate independently and, as a result, are converging. Through the integration of IT and OT data, business leaders can get access to live dashboards that provide visibility across all parts of the organization. As technological advances in cloud computing, remote sensors, and connectivity improve, it is becoming faster and easier for manufacturers to integrate the management of industrial technology and integrate new systems with their legacy systems.
Cloud computing is revolutionizing the way manufacturers do business, but there are some cases where cloud computing can have concerning disadvantages, including outages or slowdowns, security risks, limited control, and high cost. To solve these limitations, many manufacturers are turning to edge computing. Edge computing allows manufacturers to run applications and store data with on-premises infrastructure that is connected to the cloud, as opposed to in a centralized data storage warehouse. Manufacturers are embracing edge computing for several reasons. First, using edge technology reduces the amount of data that has to be sent over the network. This speeds up decision-making, reducing response times, as well as cloud computing costs. And by retaining data and analytics on-premise, edge computing minimizes the risk of security threats and increases reliability. Going forward, expect to see manufacturers embracing edge computing, especially where speed, continuity of operations, or privacy are of the essence, and where it’s also necessary to analyze large volumes of data pulled from disparate sources across the supply chain.
Intelligent Planning and Procurement
By leveraging new technologies, modern manufacturers can now capture an amazing amount of data from each phase of the value chain. With such granular data, manufacturing leaders now face the challenge of figuring out how to best turn these data into actionable insights that provide meaningful business results. To help them aggregate, analyze, and act upon this data, manufacturing leaders are turning to sensor technology, the IoT, AI, and ML. Paired with other emerging technologies, such as cloud computing and 5G, these technologies are collectively known as digital supply networks (DSNs), and they’re enabling more intelligent planning and fulfillment. By monitoring a host of variables, from real-time inventory levels, production status, and warehouse capacity to weather, upcoming holidays, and social media, manufacturers are able to generate more accurate forecasts and plan more strategically. Generally speaking, planning should precede implementation, but the breakneck speed of technology development has many leaders in the manufacturing field playing catch-up. It remains to be seen whether planning teams can keep pace with technological breakthroughs. Going forward, the way these technologies are implemented, and the full scope of their value, will undoubtedly be influenced by advances in quantum computing, the next significant evolution in tech.
Evolution of the Manufacturing Business Model
Manufacturing has long been driven by a push for engineering excellence and operational efficiency, and over the last decade, this push has only accelerated. Lower cost of entry and new technology has pushed companies to compete on product features and functionality. The pressure to cut costs has made its way upstream, with manufacturers being pushed to deliver products faster, for less. As a result, manufacturers have turned to technology to improve operational efficiencies, reduce waste, and support lean production initiatives. Even that may not be enough. With a market full of feature-saturated products and costs cut down to the bone, manufacturers are now shifting to a more customer-centric approach, exploring new service-based business models to build value and grow relationships with customers in a modern, connected world. Adding services to their portfolios allows manufacturers to differentiate their offerings and gain a competitive edge in a rapidly changing industry. New technologies, such as IoT, AI, and ML, are providing companies with greater connectivity and visibility across their products and operations. Forward-thinking companies are leveraging this connectivity to create digital services that allow them to serve customers in new ways. Cloud-networked operations open up a broad range of services for companies to explore, including Manufacturing-as-a-Service, Design-as-a-Service, Experimentation-as-a-Service, Equipment-as-a-Service, Simulation-as-a-Service, Management-as-a-Service, Maintenance-as-a-Service, and Integration-as-a-Service.
If you are interested in learning more about how manufacturing becomes more intelligent with D365 as well as maximizing the use of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Supply Chain Management contact us here to find out how we can help you grow your business. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (312) 345-8817.