Industry 4.0: Building intelligent factories with cloud & AI

3 weeks ago

As the manufacturing sector drives towards digital technologies and Industry 4.0, a good IT infrastructure is necessary to get up-to-date information on equipment status, improve performance and quality of production.As the manufacturing sector drives towards digital technologies and Industry 4.0, a good IT infrastructure is necessary to get up-to-date information on equipment status, improve performance and quality of production.

Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), cloud and Internet of Things (IoT) have seen high adoption in telecommunications, retail, FMCG, BFSI and healthcare in the last decade. One crucial learning for manufacturers in the Covid-19 era is that cost-effective digital manufacturing solutions can keep factories and supply chains running effectively to cut costs. Industry 4.0 is redefining digital technologies, business strategies and operational execution for businesses.

“Manufacturing companies have realised that optimising costs with digital solutions is necessary to keep production and supply chains operating smoothly while maintaining high-quality products,” says Rohit Pande, AI Applications Sales Leader, IBM India/South Asia. “Today, an average production line can generate around 70 terabytes of big data on a single day; however, most of it is not analysed.” According to him, manufacturers are now beginning to combine AI, hybrid cloud, and automation to draw value from such data and obtain more mission-critical insights like prediction and prevention of equipment failure, improving reliability, reducing downtime, and applying data insights to upgrade product quality and lower manufacturing costs.

The current push by manufacturing companies towards Industry 4.0 is due to the inherent multiple benefits. Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages recently collaborated with IBM to deploy ‘Maxpro’—a collection of several IT solutions that includes IBM Maximo—at its Sanand plant in Gujarat. These solutions are powered by cloud, AI, analytics & IoT and provide fact-based real-time analysis of data, instant availability of information & interconnectivity of machines. According to the company, this collaboration is helping the factory redefine efficiency and become more agile.

Sampath Kumar Venkataswamy, senior research manager, IDC Asia Pacific Manufacturing Insights, says, “Over 38% of Indian manufacturers are looking at digital offerings that can generate new revenues streams through a combination of product innovation drives and ecosystem integrations that pivot on real-time data visibility. Technologies such as AI, IoT, cloud and analytics will be the key enablers that aid in the creation of a digital thread that runs across the organisation and value chain.”

Importance of IT infrastructure in Industry 4.0
As the manufacturing sector drives towards digital technologies and Industry 4.0, a good IT infrastructure is necessary to get up-to-date information on equipment status, improve performance and quality of production. Building a hybrid multi-cloud IT infrastructure is a a key component in digital transformation for manufacturers seeking to take advantage of Industry 4.0.

“IT infrastructure’s primary goal in a manufacturing set-up is to enable zero-latency within and between business processes with stakeholders distributed across the organisation. As successful manufacturers are on an on-going journey from a standard to automated factory set-up, with some organisations even ramping up to intelligent factories, RISC processor based servers and storage continue to provide the building blocks of a next-generation IT architecture.” says Ravi Jain, director, Server Sales, IBM India/South Asia.

Many companies in the manufacturing sectors use IBM Systems to understand real-time analytics and increase operational efficiencies. Kanpur headquartered JK Cement moved its IT infrastructure for its core ERP to IBM Power and IBM Storage to reduce operational costs and increase business efficiency in supply chain management. Jitendra Singh, president and CDO, JK Cements says, “We are in the business where our supply chain management has to be very efficient. We require a high-performing infrastructure to access real-time information and analytics. This shift helped us optimise operational decisions, improve processes, bring in supply chain efficiency, drive better cost and increase our overall efficiencies.”

Industry 4.0 is no longer about tailoring modules to implement a set of fixed processes or waiting for one to two years to go live. Firms are defining and deploying use cases in small chunks, enabling benefits in three to six months. IBM’s Jain says, “Enterprises are under pressure to innovate and make smart investments in IoT, mobility, cloud computing and analytics to improve production efficiencies.”

As manufacturers’ business strategies and operational execution get redefined, Industry 4.0 thus assumes a greater relevance in the post-pandemic era.

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