Manufacturing industries were the early adopters of automation with distributed control systems (DCS) and programmable logic controllers (PLC) but are way behind in embracing cloud computing platforms.
Consequently, they are devoid of cutting-edge technologies like AI that can enhance their production workflows.
Manufacturing industries often think the latest technologies are for IT firms and are tedious to implement them in production processes. However, these companies need to be forward-thinking and deploy machine learning capabilities through cloud computing.
To help production companies in integrating the latest technologies into their workflows, various companies are collaborating and offering services through the cloud. Most recently, Baker Hughes, an oil field services company, collaborated with Microsoft and C3.ai to develop and offer AI services for oil and gas manufacturing firms.
The Current Landscape
While the adoption of DCS and PLC has helped the manufacturing sector to increase their efficiency and productivity, only a few companies have been able to completely automate their production processes.
One of the primary factors that impede the implementation of DCS and PLC for automation are abrupt breakdowns and malfunctioning of sensors, thereby, in most cases slackening the automation initiatives.
To mitigate such pressing issues, companies have now moved on to embracing solutions from different vendors for forecasting sensor breakdowns. However, with such practices, firms are only able to witness incremental advancements as those solutions do not address the specific needs of different production industries. Mostly, these solutions are one-size-fits-all and fail to deliver the desired results.
Manufacturing processes are strenuous in nature and require an in-depth understanding to determine correlations between several factors for deploying best practices.
Therefore, the implementation of machine learning capabilities is the best way forward for companies in obtaining insights into data to make informed decisions.
How Can They Leverage Cloud Computing
Cloud computing has become the backbone of IT organisations success, and it has the potential to transform the manufacturing industries too. Firms can utilise services such as the AWS IoT Analytics for analysing and managing services to enhance their processes. This and other similar solutions from the cloud providers also offer notebook instances that can be used to address personalised problems and deploy machine learning capabilities.
As per reports, machine learning is able to enhance product quality by up to 35% in discrete manufacturing industries. Integrating advanced innovations will allow companies to train machine learning models with their historical data and evaluate them for further improvements.
As we have not reached a point where we train a model with specific data and evaluate on another, individual manufacturing companies should trust the ML models that are trained with their data rather on some other companies data.
Imbibing above discussed practices can result in advantages that can be summarised as follows:
- Maintenance and Automation: Will help manufacturing companies to reduce the downtime by precisely predicting the instance when sensors might stop sending feedback, determine the factors responsible for failure in sensors, and assisting them in devising best preventive maintenance schedule. This will also result in increased production throughput, and in turn, higher revenue for companies.
- Supply Chain: Apart from assisting in production, cloud computing can also help production industries in optimising the supply chain, and identify the best sensors for particular processes.
- Protection from Hazards: Every year manufacturing industries witness fatal injuries due to chemical spills and other unsafe practices, which can be avoided by using computer vision technologies. Microsoft Azure, AWS, and Google provide computer vision technology through their cloud services, which can be used for notifying abnormalities in the workplace to avoid potential misfortunes and save many lives in an around the factories.
Production companies need to adopt these new technologies through cloud computing to gain operational resilience and have a competitive edge in the manufacturing landscape. Companies across the world are slowly striving towards equipping machine learning abilities into their workflows, and in turn, revolutionalising their production facilities to achieve smart manufacturing.