Hitachi America vice president and Hitachi Astemo chief architect for Smart Manufacturing, Sudhanshu Gaur, said robotics, AI and other data-driven technologies are bringing sweeping changes to manufacturing plants worldwide, at The Assembly Show in Chicago on 27 October.
“We are standing at the cusp of a fourth industrial revolution driven by exponential growth in IT technologies,” Gaur said in his keynote speech.
“There is a great opportunity for manufacturers to embrace these changes and unlock greater business value, while bringing more flexibility and resiliency into their operations.”
Gaur is responsible for the digital transformation of Hitachi Astemo’s global manufacturing operations, to improve overall productivity and ensure the company’s continued leadership in the pursuit of an Industry 4.0 vision. He recently was named one of the top 25 leaders in the transformation of manufacturing by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.
Gaur predicted that manufacturing operations at Hitachi Astemo’s 140 manufacturing plants around the world would benefit from access to their Global IoT platform and services within the next four years.
Hitachi Astemo envisions digital platforms that connect all aspects of manufacturing operations, including production, engineering, quality, inventory and supply-chain management.
Digital platforms introduce additional flexibility into the production process and allow companies to more quickly deal with disruptions due to VUCA – volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, Gaur said.
“Fully automated plants are more efficient, but they also pose risks since tightly linked systems generally aren’t designed to handle unpredictability, complex situations and rare events,” he said.
“We think a gradual adoption of advanced digital technologies is the best way forward, bringing necessary automation where needed, while ‘upskilling’ the workforce to manage and leverage these complex systems.”
The changeover to a digital platform will come with a price tag, although future savings will be substantial. Although costs will vary depending on location and a variety of other factors, Gaur estimated that the cost for a data-driven system – at a medium-size US manufacturing plant with 1,000 employees and annual sales of $200 million – might total $20,000 in one-time implementation charges with annual running costs of $60,000 or more.
The cost for a much larger global enterprise with about 100 plants, 60,000 employees and annual sales of $10 billion to implement a fully digital platform could total $1 million or more in one-time charges, with over $3 million in annual running costs.
Successfully implementing smart manufacturing strategies would involve different layers of the IIoT, including fog computing and edge intelligence, as well as 5G and cloud computing.
Hitachi Astemo is a global automotive technology company formed by the recent merger of Hitachi Automotive Systems with Honda’s Keihin, Showa and Nissin groups. Hitachi holds a 66.6 share of voting rights in the company, with Honda holding the remaining 33.4 per cent.
The newly created company has 90,000 employees and leadership positions in a wide range of product areas including AD/ADAS, software, powertrain systems, chassis systems and motorcycle systems.