When it comes to manufacturing, industries have taken significant strides to improve their manufacturing process. And they are backed by state-of-the-art technologies. The inclusion of digital technologies in the industrial manufacturing process is coined as digital manufacturing.
Digital manufacturing involves several digital tools and techniques, such as data analytics, real-time process control, cyber-physical systems (CPS), 5×10 CNC router, additive manufacturing (3D printing), machine learning, IoT, and artificial intelligence (AI).
These tools and techniques can improve the overall industrial operations that include product design, management, production, post-sales service, etc. And this is not it! There are many other aspects of digital manufacturing that remain undiscussed. Let’s take a look at them!
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How do Digital Technologies help in Enhancing the Manufacturing Process?
As listed above, countless technologies streamline and ease the process of manufacturing and post-manufacturing of products. Let’s take a look at some of them and how they help make the process simpler.
1. IoT (Internet of Things)
The manufacturing process in industries requires machinery, whether it is a food factory or a heavy-duty parts factory. As there can be countless machines in a single plant, it is evident that at some point, they may have technical issues. This is where digital technologies like IoT can help.
Unlike traditional methods, where field technicians needed to analyze the machine after it had gone bad. Today, IoT sensors can be integrated into manufacturing machines to provide real-time updates about its performance and potential issues, if any. If any mismatch in the conditions is observed, the machinery can be repaired or serviced beforehand. This can help in reducing machine downtime and increasing production efficiency.
2. Digital Twins
The digital twin concept is at the center of a manufacturing revolution, driven by significant advances in computing power and internet speeds. It can digitally replicate the operation of any physical system simply by capturing its characteristics (i.e., dynamics) via sensors or other input devices.
This replicates every part – sub-assemblies, coupled systems & assemblies, or even entire plants. This virtual simulation of the machines results in meaningful insight, allowing us to understand better and improve industrial processes’ performance while saving time, resources & money during development phases.
3. Big Data Analytics
With the use of smart devices and sensors, the amount of data will be massive. However, if you are not getting any valuable insights from the data right now, you surely will in the future, which will be made possible with the help of big data analytics.
Big data analytics uses advanced technologies and techniques to uncover patterns, trends, and associations from very large volumes of structured and unstructured data. It can also be thought of as a subset of business intelligence that provides insights by analyzing massive amounts of semi-structured or unstructured data.
Siemens is the best example of this. It uses big data analytics to analyze the data sets related to the produced units. Based on this, they interpret which unit is faulty. Earlier, they used to scan each unit with an X-ray to know if it is good to go, which took a lot of time.
Also Read : How Small Businesses Can Take Benefit of IoT
4. Augmented Reality
So far, you must have heard about AR applications in the entertainment industry. However, it is not just limited to that. AR is an integral part of the post-sales services phase these days. How?
AR technology creates a superimposed computer-generated image on the user’s device while also keeping real-world objects in it. Many firms worldwide are leveraging AR’ to help their field technicians troubleshoot issues without being there.
For instance, an industry expert sitting at a remote location can instantly help a field technician or a customer via AR video streaming. They can guide the technician by making annotations and providing step-by-step instructions regarding troubleshooting.
5. 3D Modeling Software
Digital transformation in manufacturing is not just limited to optimizing the on-floor or post-sales services. It also has a vital role to play in the planning stage of the manufacturing process. For instance, to manufacture different products, an industry needs different machinery. This is where digital design tools like 3D software can help.
3D CAD software like TinkerCAD, FreeCAD, and others can help design the machine parts or the entire machinery. Further, you can also use them with simulation software to check if the part or machine works as intended. This helps in the faster and efficient production of machines.
Benefits of Digital Manufacturing
Other than these, countless more technologies fuel digital transformation in manufacturing today. Here are some of the benefits of digital manufacturing!
- Improved quality control and faster lead times
With 3D design software, the manufacturing processes can be validated before they are used to produce parts. This means companies can see exactly how a part will look and get it right the first time. With the time saved on producing prototypes that do not need to be made, companies will have more time to produce the final product.
- Low System Downtime
Digital manufacturing systems are designed to remain online. It means that when one machine is offline for maintenance, another can take over its work, and the production line does not have to stop for long periods. In addition, digital manufacturing technologies like IoT allows companies to plan and schedule production tasks ahead so that shutdowns can be minimized.
- Faster Repairs
With technology like AR, a company can repair a part and get it back up and running more quickly. Moreover, with accurate computer models created from 3d scanning, companies will be able to produce new parts faster. It means downtime due to repairs will be shorter than ever before.
In a fast-changing world like today, industries leave no stones unturned to boost and retain their customer base. The backbone of the top corporations today is the adoption of top-notch technologies. And the above-listed technologies are some of the best ones.
Also read about: Smart Manufacturing: 5 Things To Expect