Digital technology has brought significant impacts upon the business process. It also brings about manufacturing transformation, which involves inter-connections among manufacturing, business, and supply chain systems. If transformation is always related to “digital things,” businesses may question it. They have been doing such transformation for many years. So, what kind of transformation are they waiting for?
It may be true that manufacturing transformation has been around since the first Industrial Revolution. However, the new era comes with Industry 4.0 technology, which is characterized by the use of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. The new transformation enables the businesses to solve problems by means of technology. AI and ML are able to deliver insights, predict, and recommend solutions for problems faced by businesses. This is what earlier technologies could not do.
Two Ways of Manufacturing Transformation
In a post on Forbes, Willem Sundblad identifies two ways to transform manufacturing process. They are traditional way and intelligent way.
Traditional Manufacturing Transformation
This may be a time-consuming approach to problem-solving process. Traditional way to transform manufacturing process involves problem solving by an engineer. Examples include single database system, which the engineers can access anytime to analyze the root cause of problems and find the solutions for them. With automation, they can actually solve more problems every day.
Faster problem solving process is actually more beneficial for the organization. With automation, the engineers can deliver more values on their tasks. Of course, this type of transformation still has some limitations. The single database is not able to give prediction and recommendations. In other words, it is only useful when the organization is faced with problems.
Intelligent Manufacturing Transformation
Unlike the traditional way of manufacturing transformation, this one allows businesses to solve not only the existing problem but also ongoing ones. Intelligent way to transform manufacturing process allows the business to mitigate ongoing problems. They can take immediate steps to prevent the problems, or at least to mitigate the risks.
For examples, a business can analyze environmental aspects of the business. By using intelligent digital transformation, they can recommend new operations to produce environmentally safe products or to recommend new technology to process the waste. As the analyses are very complex, even the smartest engineers cannot do them. Such recommendations are only available from the intelligent technology.
Another example of intelligent transformation is found in electronics industry. In this industry, fault detection is very crucial. Even a small fault may lead to product failure. The companies can use AI-enabled cameras to detect any problems earlier by using machine-learning algorithms. Of course, no manual database can identify flaws as efficiently as the AI-enabled technology.
What Kind of Manufacturing Transformation Do You Need?
The answer to the question depends upon the nature and size of the business. A startup may depend upon traditional way of transformation. The company may not have adequate resources to implement AI-enabled process. However, when the business grows, intelligent transformation becomes necessary. The two systems have different requirements, different steps, and different ways of operation. Therefore, the businesses need to analyze the pros and cons before making a decision.