How Big Data, Mobile Technology and Robotics are Making the Factory a Digital Space

With as many as 47% of manufacturing companies expecting big data to have a significant impact upon their factories, plus 36% who say that they expect mobile technology and applications to boost their financial outlook, and a further 49% who believe that advancements in analytical capability will bring down costs, it is safe to say that the future of factories is heading in the direction of digital.

The figures presented are part of a joint report by SCM World and MESA International about the digital factory, headed up by Pierfrancesco Manenti. The intention was to define the future landscape of tools for manufacturing technology, helping companies to define an investment strategy.

Members of the two groups were sent a digital survey, and the departments of software and professional services were not permitted to take part, perhaps due to a vested interest. The mainstream of respondents came from Manufacturing (22%), IT (21%), Engineering and Operations (14% each) and the General Mangers (8%). The survey received respondents globally from Asia, Australia, Europe, The Middle East, Africa and North and South America. Key points included:

• Mobile technology and applications (75%), big-data analytics (68%) and robotics (64%) are expected to be the main disruptive technologies by manufacturers currently.

• Big-data analytics (42%), robotics (30%), mobile technology and applications (36%), IoT (36%), plus digital manufacturing processes (29%) are combined as the top five technologies that manufacturers are depending on to boost how agile, responsive and reliable their operations are.

• A comparison between the investment prioritization timeline and amount of technological disruption makes clear the impact of individual technologies on manufacturing.

• Real-time performance analytics (57%), real-time MRP and factory planning (53%), real-time supply chain feedback (42%) and quality of production and yield management (40%) are four of the most probable use cases for big -data analysis in digital factories of the future.

• The big data strategy implemented by Intel is paying off.

• GE aviation predicts that big-data analysis can provide ‘in process’ inspections insights that could boost productivity by 25%.

• The tracking of production and remotely monitoring the factory (60%), tracking and tracing of the supply chain (46%) and extensions in the automation of the plant floor facilitated by machine to machine communications (40%) are the three most probable applications of IoT technologies as factories become more digital in the future.

What do you think? Are the future of factories entrenched in the digital world? Share your thoughts by commenting on this post, or on our Facebook or twitter pages.