How Technology And Digitalisation Are Transforming UK Manufacturing

Technology and Digitalisation are changing the way UK Manufacturers operate, at an incredible rate.

Companies are producing or are expected to produce more product for less and this is being felt across a number of different industries. Companies are also growing at a faster pace too with technologies from 3D printing to Robotics and a variety of advanced software tools.

Our recent Blog gives an interesting insight into the 4th Industrial Revolution and the impact this will have on manufacturing businesses.

The key areas identified or earmarked for this transformation are:

  1. Big Data and Predictive Analysis.Predictive analytics is simply a name given to datasets but has four main benefits for manufacturers:Quality improvement – databases can be aggregated, cleansed quicker and stored in smaller spaces than ever before. Not only that but predictive analysis means that these can be performed automatically.Demand Forecast – This helps manufacturers in identifying what type of products, quantity required and when these products are required. In the past this was reliant on years of past history. Rather than deciding on when the seasonal trends are, analysis will be able to capture data to identify these trends, anomalies or events automatically meaning fewer resources required.

    Machine Utilisation
    – A machine is a machine and parts get worn, the break down but with the modernisation of these equipment, with predictive analysis using sensors alongside the automation of use, manufacturers are in a better position as they can identify when a machine needs to be shut off or brought online.Preventative Maintenance – this aims to reduce issues found by raising alarms and indeed potentially signalling the repair of, say, a torn belt or reducing the load etc.
  2. Social and Collaboration Tools;Lots of manufacturing companies are learning that there is a growing need to collaborate with colleagues. With software such as Yammer and Microsoft Sharepoint it allows manufacturers a platform to harness collective knowledge, to discover information through to complex files and workflows.A place to communicate with sister companies, internal departments and even contractors and more importantly avoid repetition (doing the same job someone else has already done!).
  3. Mobile Devices and Business Tools Apps;Some of the stand-out benefits according to Forbes, for the way manufacturing companies are seeing the transformation with mobile devices are:
    Integrating mobile CRM systems to improve response times;
    Integration of Configure, Price and Quote (CPQ) allowing a sales rep to quickly submit a proposal within hours of leaving a prospect;
    Replacing manually intensive inventory management systems with mobile inventory tracking;
    Improving supply chain co-ordination and logistics
    , benefitting the likes of companies who have rapid inventory turns and tight schedules.
  4. Cloud based IT software;More manufacturers are changing over to a cloud based infrastructure where all files and data are held remotely via the internet.
    Four main benefits:
    Visibility – use of a single system to coordinate multiple operations centrally; Productivity – it allows the process to run seamlessly and allows better productivity due to the ease of use;
    Efficiency – it increases efficiency in every department: being able to convert a quote to order, to production and allowing companies to ensure parts arrive in time to produce;
    Mobility – being able to operate from any device from anywhere in the world, allowing companies with an international presence or a chain of companies to collaborate;
  5. Internet of Things (IoT);

This forms part of the industrial revolution we spoke about in our recent Blog but it involves the network of physical devices or any appliance which has software and sensors and these can be controlled remotely.

We are developing a more connected manufacturer than ever before.

Manufacturers can now track data such as energy consumption patterns at device level – by individual machine. As well as insight into waste, available efficiencies, identify anomalies, regulatory compliance etc.

Manufacturers will see many benefits of IoT in every department, from supply chain analytics to marketing automation and intelligence at the periphery of the network.

  1. Cyber Security;The problem of hackers is a major concern to manufacturing companies. Hackers can penetrate the IT network and gain access to a robot’s controller software, exploit its vulnerability, download a tampered file and then all of a sudden instead of drawing a straight line, it’s now 2mm out.This would have a massive impact if it was producing an important part for a car manufacturer. It could lead to mass recalls and even fatalities.This may sound far-fetched but in reality, this could happen. It’s important to make sure your company is prepared. Refer to our Blog for an in depth look.
  2. Artificial Intelligence;Artificial Intelligence (AI) or essentially robots or co-bots has seen a breakthrough in its development allowing real time decisions to be made on the production line.Let’s picture the scene.A factory is producing a car chassis and the sensor spots a defect in the part. The data is then fed to a computer in the cloud which immediately pulls the defective chassis from the production line and immediately orders a replacement.This is real time problem solving that will save millions of pounds in lost time and resources.

Where and how can you see the future of manufacturing changing in the future? Let us know your thoughts.