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Is Smart Manufacturing The Silver Bullet?

Is Smart Manufacturing The Silver Bullet?

Smart manufacturing continues to gain momentum, and is having a huge impact on the computer electronics industry. While the market tries to transition into the new trend, it is not a silver bullet to up a company’s competitive edge — at least not without proper protocols in place. 

Declined demand for traditional computer electronics, such as personal computers and laptops, can be attributed to the increased adoption of cloud computing and edge computing in smart manufacturing. If not, big ticket purchases for cash-strapped consumers are halted in anticipation of a global recession. Just like many businesses, they are struggling with excess inventory and compelled to sell at losses.

Getting Around The Conundrum

However, manufacturing cannot afford to stop. Yet, pertinent measures are needed to keep operations leaner and productive.

Hence, “Smart Manufacturing” became the buzzword along with the hype about cloud and edge computing. Essentially, it is about having a centralised data storage for processing. The only difference between the two is proximity between storage location and processing.

The benefits of smart manufacturing cannot be ignored. It certainly lives up to its name in terms of streamlining processes and offering real-time data accessible anywhere.

The gap of people interacting with robots is narrowing rapidly and shop floors continues to shrink. The perfect scenario of a smart manufacturing facility is when people analyse the data correctly and present with transparency, plus swift strategised decisions.

Last but not least, reduced manpower needed to manage a shop floor. Labour can be freed to focus on other tasks. That results in efficient shop floor utilisating, accurate planning plus adequate resource allocation and cost savings.

With smart manufacturing, comes artificial intelligence (A.I.) and predictive maintenance. This trio is touted as the ideal counter against wastage and downtime, with the latter as the bane for all machine shops.

The union also enables flexibility in terms of product customisation in accordance to clients’ requirements, including volume. This advantage trickles down to significant cost savings as resources can be allocated and utilised efficiently.

The Drawbacks

Notwithstanding, this trio is an investment not many businesses can afford as it requires substantial resources plus shop floor (workers) training to ensure the systems are operated correctly. Operating a smart factory requires specialised knowledge and experience as it may call for quick strategised decisions, instead of run-of-the-mill calls which may potentially result in repercussions.

It would also be realistic to note not every member in the shop floor gets to be trained in operating a smart manufacturing system. The organisation will naturally select the most suitable candidates to undergo smart manufacturing system training with the aim to be prudent with resources.

The purpose of such training is to minimise operating errors. The system is a tool to aid production, yet controlled by humans. The richer experience the worker has, the more beneficial it would be for the shop floor.

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