Everything about manufacturing is changing thanks to lower barriers to entry for funding, production, fulfillment and service. However, the real driver of all of this disruption is increased value to the customer. That’s what IT brings to the digital enterprise as it takes on an even larger role in transforming the manufacturing value chain.
A manufacturing digital enterprise is one where all manufacturing processes, from the supply chain to the factory floor to the logistics functions are all securely and robustly connected in real-time at all points along the manufacturing cycle.
"The infrastructure that you need to connect customers, suppliers, devices and employees that allows them to communicate, collaborate and work effectively is the network, which is the central nervous system of what's going on in the organization."
“The infrastructure that you need to connect customers, suppliers, devices and employees that allows them to communicate, collaborate and work effectively is the network, which is the central nervous system of what's going on in the organization,” said Gary Cantrell, Jabil’s Chief Information Officer. “On top of that, it provides a series of technologies that generate a common language that allows everyone to globally communicate.”
Thanks to the ease through which sensor networks can capture and communicate data, information about machine health, component quality, process irregularities and much more can be captured continuously throughout the manufacturing process. Furthermore, all of this information can be analyzed to help our customers make better decisions about the entire production cycle.
In the digital future, it is IT operations that will ensure communication networks are optimized for sensor data collection, communication and analysis.
In many ways, IT provides the backbone or the foundational piece of the Smart Factory, providing a secure, efficient and widely connected information pipeline capable of delivering real-time insights to everyone along the manufacturing journey. For the customer, this value is transformational, providing insights that deliver shorter time-to-market, increased product quality and lower costs through digital supply chain optimization.
New emerging technologies of interest to some of the best known networking and information technology companies promise to bring even more power to the digital enterprise. For example, innovations that bring the cloud closer to the network's edge promise to reduce latency through technologies such as network virtualization and software defined networking. And Cisco recently purchased ParStream, a company that offers an analytics database that can be used to analyse large amounts of data and store it in near real time anywhere on the network. ParStream touts that its technology allows Internet of Things applications to run twice as fast while using 30 percent fewer resources. Putting this technology to work in a digital enterprise, specifically manufacturing, promises incredible value for customers. But it will require foundational IT architecture to take advantage of these new technologies.
Then, there is the data opportunity. As digital enterprises begin to gather and store information about operations, products, suppliers, etc, they’ll build a digital library of information with incredible value to the organization. Again, we look to IT to help harvest the data in order to make meaningful, actionable insights that could transform the way we do business.
With the explosion of sensor data connected at the edge of the network in real time, the next logical step is to understand the data. That’s where Big Data Analytics can help. Connected through secure networks, sophisticated analytics will make use of past data to provide insights and predictions about the future state throughout production.
However, IT isn’t just about networks, sensors and data. It is also about people. Next generation enterprise systems will incorporate social networks to enable better employee communication and collaboration, transforming how people work in the front office and on the factory floor.
What if we can give suppliers a quality rating? What if, through analytics, we can provide insights that help customers design a better product with lower costs? Thanks to IT, the manufacturing industry’s transformation to a digital enterprise means unprecedented value to customers.