How newer technology is helping manufacturing industry
Technology is moving at a very fast pace, driving economic growth and in some cases, unleashing disruptive changes. Manufacturing industry too, is not left untouched from it. From the First Industrial Revolution in the 1780s till the present day, the manufacturing sector has grown stronger with the advent of new technological advances, the latest being, the introduction of IoT and Big Data Analytics.
The First Industrial Revolution started with manufacturing based on mechanical production equipment driven by water and steam power. Then came a time, when manufacturing was based on mass production achieved by division of labor concept and the use of electrical energy. The third industrial revolution focused towards the use of electronics and IT to further automate production. All the phases helped the manufacturing industry to grow at a higher pace and strengthen its stand as strong pillar for any economy. Now a new era has been initiated which addresses some major concerns of the manufacturing industry- What is the value loss on the production floor in the last 15 minutes and the top 3 causes? What differentiates the production floor from that of competition, other than production? What is the business contribution made by the initiatives and decisions taken on day-to-day basis?
The above challenges require a manufacturer to have a full view of the manufacturing floor, and to be able to take correct decision in correct time. Manufacturing operations which are centered on ‘zero latency in decision making’ now require to eliminate delay in decision making. This requires Quick Analysis and Same Analysis (QASA), which in turns is based on three important aspects, i.e., Acquisition of Data, Complete Data and Real Time Data.
The need of the hour is a decision support system which provides all relevant details proactively rather than the conventional reactive report mechanisms. This transition requires the convergence of Big Data with Internet of Things (IoT).
With the Industrial revolution came automated machines for manufacturing processes. The machines communicate and generate huge amount of data. Processing and analyzing this data holds the key to reform manufacturing practices to not only carry out the manufacturing processes efficiently, but also make sure that these processes are implemented in a manner which proves beneficial to organizations in financial terms as well. Big Data Analytics (BDA) has the capability to change the entire manufacturing value chain from acquiring raw material, to processing it into final product, to more effective disbursement of the product in the market.
The data generated and analyzed provides information at a granular level, giving a 360o view of the manufacturing floor. BDA enables the manufacturer to have a clear view on how the machines are performing, how much energy and other utilities are utilized, which section of the plant is financially more susceptible, what are the financial implications of the manufacturing process undertaken. This information gained through analytics of big data provides the ease to define the methodologies as per the need and requirement of the organization.
BDA, though being very effective can lose its efficiency, if the accumulation, analysis of data and its disbursement is not done on a real time basis. A mechanism here is required which connects all the disparate machines and systems on the manufacturing floor, and is capable of transmitting the information in real time. Such a mechanism is provided by IoT (Internet of Things).
With the focus towards reliable information gathering and sharing in real time, Internet of Things (IoT) or Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has gained huge popularity lately. Its capability of connecting discrete devices located at different geographical location enables a manufacturer to stay connected with his manufacturing floor in real time, on the go. IoT when equipped with BDA proves out to be a lethal combination, as it facilitates a unique system for a manufacturer to get real time 360o view of his manufacturing floor, enabling him to take proactive rather than reactive decisions and improve upon the manufacturing operations.
This combination has already started providing value to various manufacturers all around. Recently a leading chemical manufacturer was facing losses incurred over a period of six months by poorly performing areas (i.e., crude flow and reflux flow) on the production floor. They deployed BDA and IoT solution and identified frequent fluctuations in column bottom vacuum which directly affected the rate of crude flows and hence resulted in lower throughput. This cause when tracked back to the root indicated that the column bottom vacuum in the plant’s fractional distillation column needed to be replaced at the earliest. Implementing on the suggestions the organization was able to save INR 48 lakhs in six months.
There cannot be an excruciating example of how new technologies like IoT and BDA is transforming the manufacturing operations. Together they are proving out to be a boon for the manufacturing industry enabling them to take a leap forward, analyze in real time and predict the possibilities in future with respect to their floor operations.
The writer is Mr Tarun Mishra, CEO and Founder, Covacsis.