The 4 big technology trends for manufacturing

As we move into 2015, it is clear that manufacturers can’t
just stick with their old ways. Technology-savvy, alert and agile businesses
will come out ahead, Jo-Anne Ruhl reports.

BY 2020, it’s predicted there will be 33 billion connected
devices on the planet– nearly three times the 10 to 12 billion estimated today.

Manufacturers need to be a part of this growing technology
evolution, and take the time to carefully consider their business goals, and
focus on market opportunities and pain points that need to be overcome.

It’s important manufacturers research the various new
technologies available to them, while considering the short-term and long-term
benefits of each.

Smart organisations need to adopt new technology processes
to be successful now and in years to come.

Monitoring in real-time

Utilising the information from embedded sensors to
transition from preventative maintenance (regularly inspecting and maintaining
equipment), to predictive maintenance (such as infrared thermography which
monitors equipment’s operating temperature and detects thermal anomalies), is
one proven way to lower costs and improve service.

Most equipment is still maintained today on a time or volume
basis. However, real-time monitoring of equipment performance, which considers
factors such as operating temperatures, flow rates and energy usage, is a far
better indicator of when equipment is in need of maintenance. This gives you
options to service earlier in the cycle, avoiding machine breakdowns, or later
in the cycle, lowering repair costs.

This flexibility in service scheduling can create new
revenue opportunities by taking advantage of demand spikes while also safely
re-scheduling maintenance plans.

In addition, think of how much time is lost today by
multiple engineering visits to remote equipment, first to diagnose the problem
and then repair it. Sophisticated self-diagnostic sensors on equipment make it
more efficient to identify the fault immediately, so that the right engineer
with the right service pack and repair parts are dispatched the first
time.

Making a shift to the cloud

“Anytime, anywhere” access to critical business information
is a key driver of cloud adoption. Companies that have adopted the cloud are
able to move much quicker, with faster time to market, and much faster time to
benefit.

Organisations are constantly pressed to automate, integrate,
and extend their business processes. Cloud solutions deliver new automation,
but also come with new integration and extension models for cloud services.

With data available from anywhere with a web browser
connection, manufacturers can improve planning and business decision-making. A
cloud solution is scalable, easily accessible from multiple locations, and can
eliminate costly annual maintenance and infrastructure costs.

As the equipment industry learns to better adapt to a global
economy, they will undoubtedly also need to better monitor a global network of
suppliers, contractors and partners. A complete real-time view of the
end-to-end value chain is essential to creating the collaborative and
customer-centric approach – which cloud technology can offer.

The ability to scale quickly will be paramount to success in
2015. Rapid response is critical when unforeseen events take place – such as
new competition that can come out of nowhere and steal market share within
months.

On-premise applications aren’t as quick to rapidly
structure, expand, and scale up operations, like cloud solutions are, which can
put a company at a disadvantage when faced with other fast growing businesses.

Embracing a mobile workforce

In today’s environment, users want to be able to work the
way they live. Because of this, they have so many options in the marketplace.

This in turn creates more pressure on organisations to
develop clean and beautiful looking interfaces that can be used at a desktop or
from a mobile device like seen with Facebook. Applications now should be
intuitive, fluid, and natural to use, as well as able to be accessed anywhere,
at any time.

This is especially important for service engineers who need
to be on the road maintaining expensive assets, not stuck in an office. Social
and mobile technologies allow service enterprises to boost their workers’
productivity.

Connected devices are making diagnostic data available
remotely, delivering the possibility to identify, diagnose and even repair
equipment, via software updates and remote fixes.

Every avoided trip represents a significant cost savings and
a boost to equipment utilisation and profitability.

When software anticipates what companies need, it makes
everything easier, freeing companies to focus on the bigger picture.

As well, business specific applications for the equipment
industry allow organisations to boost efficiency by providing more tailored
solutions for sales, the floor, supply chain and logistics.

Users need to be able to access critical information from
their own personal device in order to see results in real-time and make better
business decisions.

Encouraging a social business

Social collaboration is part of the growing convergence of
business and personal technology. As data continues to explode and decisions
have to be made faster and more intelligently, social media has a pivotal role
to play in the enterprise, not just for marketing but in the systems which underpin
crucial back office functions. Through driving user engagement, empowerment to
make better, more informed decisions, and boost productivity, organisations
that can successfully harness this trend would be able to focus on what matters
most, customers.

When employees are able to follow critical data, events, and
people, every touch point across your enterprise becomes organised and
actionable. Integrated tracking allows users to filter key enterprise data and
events between disconnected forms of in-office communication eliminating
obstacles to effective and timely communication that decrease efficiency and
productivity.

As the manufacturing industry looks forward to 2015, it is
clear that the technology-savvy, alert and agile businesses will come out ahead.
Embedded sensors, real-time information, mobility and cloud deployment will be
major factors that manufacturers will utilise to their advantage. The sooner
organisations get on board, the sooner they can reach the next level of
customer satisfaction, service innovation and profitability.

[Jo-Anne Ruhl is General Manager Australia with Infor]