With the arrival of Smart Factories and a growing awareness of Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things, manufacturers are making better use of product information to increase profits.

The goal previously was often staying afloat in today’s ever-changing economic climate. Fresh thinking suggests that organisations able to improve manufacturing workflows, connect better with customers and deliver products on time and on budget will prosper.
To achieve that, it’s time to embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). That’s no longer the future; it’s about manufacturing agility, innovation and thinking. More organisations are turning talk into actions.

Data gathering, how that is done, and the subsequent analysis and distribution of product information is a significant factor in changing the manufacturing processes that have been in place for decades.

Smart devices can capture more data at key points across the whole product life cycle – as part of the design and testing phase, during manufacture within factories, as a product is used and even when disposed.

Importantly, that data can and should be visible to all decision makers – across all relevant parts of a business.

Responding to informed and demanding consumers is now a priority…

 

Embracing Product Information Management (PIM) is part of the journey as the age of industrial digitisation dawns. At Epitomy Solutions, we see these developments as part of manufacturing evolution rather than revolution.

Sure there is disruptive thinking, and the introduction of new technologies and deep learning software solutions is both frightening and exciting for many stalwarts of the manufacturing sector.

However, when the outcome is leaner processes, less errors, greater efficiencies and products getting to market quicker, well, few industry figures will complain.

There will be improved utilisation of valuable information, reduced maintenance and longer life for parts and machines.

Ultimately, consumers should also have increased visibility of product information. Being able to identify specific parts, quicker, using any device will give benefits on many levels. It will also increase customer loyalty.

Shifting traditional manufacturing thinking

Making use of IT has been part of the manufacturing landscape for many years. Whether those systems, the hardware and software involved has been put to best use is another topic altogether.

Even now there are stories of duplicate data, of information being manually copied from one part of an organisation to another. Other criticisms involve siloed data; information has been inaccessible for too many employees and customers, and allowed to become dated and, ultimately, useless.

Data will flow as and when it is required to empower users.

In the background there have been concerns about the futuristic solutions tabled by entrants to the high-tech manufacturing field. Putting systems online, and using the power and flexibility of cloud computing has worried senior figures who fear losing sensitive company information to rivals.

Such mindsets need to change. Responding to informed and demanding consumers is now a priority, and older production facilities only geared up to enjoy significant economies of scale through large-scale production are likely to miss out.

Consumers have enjoyed increasing choice for some time. The Internet makes any product visible to any potential buyer anywhere in the world. As trends change, customers want the latest products and enhancements immediately.

Producers of complex and customisable goods must exploit new technologies to keep pace. With connected, smarter factories they will be able to produce smaller batches of goods but still at competitive prices. Investment in the right IT will help to deliver this.

Benefits of efficient use of data

The obvious benefit of Smart Factories will be greater use of automation, in conjunction with an increasingly skilled workforce – not necessarily replacing workers, but certain skills. This will help to increase productivity and reduce a manufacturing plant’s overheads.

Printed parts will also feature, offering real-time production as demand changes or the supply of other parts and assemblies falter.

Predictive maintenance environments will enable manufacturing organisations to benefit from monitoring and machine learning capabilities that can predict likely component failures on production lines. While this concept isn’t new, with the IoT greater accuracy can be achieved and much guesswork and human error removed.

Data will flow as and when it is required to empower users.

PIM enables organisations to pull all information together, managed from a central location, easily updated and distributed to the people that need it.

For all the chatter about Smart Factories and Big Data analytics, it’s important to remember that businesses need to extract real value from the new systems they roll out. The commercial benefits should be apparent, and certainly reflected in the bottom line.

If you’re investigating opportunities to maximise the value of your manufacturing data we can help.

From online demonstrations that show the power of the Epitomy Platform, to examples of how we have implemented solutions for a range of companies across different industry sectors.

We can help you visualise the benefits of PIM.

Call 0114 258 0404 or email enquiries@epitomy.com to start the process…