Smart manufacturing made smarter with M2M
16 Apr 2014 m2m General, Connectivity Hub
The manufacturing process has always been prone to implement technological changes that improve production efficiency through cost and time to market reductions, which give manufacturing companies the competitive edge in their markets over competitors.
At the same time the irruption of M2M technologies is yet to massively penetrate the factory realm. Laura Stotler of M2M Evolution Magazine believes that “the traditional world of manufacturing, is a vertical market that hasn’t changed much in general over the years. M2M has the potential to revolutionize the way manufacturers do business”.
Companies like business process management (BPM) Pega, normally involved in helping transactional companies such as banks or credit card companies streamline their business processes, are now looking at the different challenges manufacturers face and how M2M can make them more competitive.
“The complexity of manufacturers, managing diverse production lines involving suppliers and physical elements is different to those of managing bank accounts or insurance policies”, stated Bruce Williams, vice-president of Pega at a recent ITEXPO Miami 2014 interview.
“M2M and the Internet of Things have been around for almost 30 years but the difference is that Moore’s Law is slashing the price, while boosting the technology making it widely available. This allows for a measurement device and a controlling circuit to be installed just about anywhere”, continues Williams.
In this manner, products and pieces in the manufacturing process become actors thanks to this new capacity to present themselves, announce their state, receive orders and so on, through the M2M communications. “This allows for people, complex systems, and now things, to combine as part of the business processes”, concludes Williams.
Another view that confirms this future of manufacturing comes from consulting firm McKinsey’s Markus Löffler. “The IoT has already set in motion a Third Industrial Revolution, technological changes that will decentralize production control and trigger a paradigm shift in manufacturing. How will this paradigm shift affect classic production processes and manufacturing value chain?”, asked Löffler.
“It is highly likely that the world of production will become more and more networked until everything is interlinked with everything else. And logistics could be at the forefront of this shift”, replied Siegfried Dais, deputy chairman of the board of management at German engineering company Robert Bosch GmbH.
“This paradigm shift will make logistics and the supplier networks grow enormously more complicated”, added Andreas Tschiesner from McKinsey. Löffler expects a complete consolidation of devices and process management. “Process and device will be inseparable; physical things become part of the process. What this means for the plant is that machines and workflows merge to become a single entity”, concludes Löffler.
The new reality in a competitive market will allow for manufacturers to “speak” to their products, and even product pieces during the production process allowing better products to reach the market. IoT is about the physical world, as the creator of the expression, Kevin Ashton, said.
Not only private companies see the strategic importance of M2M in manufacturing. The European Union believes that the factories of the future have a key interest for maintaining the competitive edge in a globalized and highly industrialized world.
To address member country counselling a report has been released detecting the main areas of improvement and providing an extensive roadmap up to 2020. “SMEs are the backbone of manufacturing industry in Europe. Micro, small and medium enterprises provide around 45 % of the value added by manufacturing while they provide around 59 % of manufacturing employment”, says the EU report.