IT in Manufacturing


Three important technologies to slash manufacturing input costs

July 2018 IT in Manufacturing

Local manufacturing firms continue to face headwinds from heightened global competition from countries such as China and India, to sluggish demand and macroeconomic conditions, to critical skills shortages and labour issues. However, technology can help to relieve one of the most common pain points, the stubbornly high cost of production. By using the right digital tools, manufacturers can sustainably reduce their production costs, breathing new life into their margins and ensuring profitable operations.

Three areas in which this can be achieved are:

1. Raw material inventory and production planning

By using digital tags like RFID, plant operators can gain greater insight into materials, equipment, parts and other assets. Combine this with other datasets and it is possible to build up a rich picture of materials as they flow through a factory to eventually become finished products. By knowing exactly where everything is, it becomes easier to plan production, as data is automatically piped into a manufacturing execution system or production lifecycle management system. This means faster logistics and greater throughput of products, as well as increased levels of uptime and productivity – ultimately driving down input costs.

Rapid advances in 3D printing mean that certain parts and materials that are required urgently can be created on-site and at short notice, even further enhancing the management of materials.

One of the leaders in this space is General Electric. The company is reinventing itself with a variety of strategically connected technologies. These include lean manufacturing, additive manufacturing (also known as 3D printing) and advanced software analytics to enhance productivity. At Grove City, GE has used these technologies to reduce unplanned downtime by 10 to 20%, improve cycle time and reduce costs.

2. Predictive maintenance and predictive analytics

With sensors gathering key data on each machine – from humidity, heat, wear and tear, usage times, oil levels, and various other data points – it is possible to start predicting when a machine is likely to fail or require servicing. This principle, known as predictive maintenance, helps to curtail the cost of managing industrial equipment and reduces unexpected downtime as services, repairs and refurbishments can all be scheduled to avoid interrupting production lines.

With findings suggesting that downtime costs the average factory between 5 and 20 percent of its productive capacity, predictive maintenance can be one of the most crucial weapons in the fight against ballooning production costs.

It is possible to extend the principle of predictive maintenance to encompass predictive analytics across the entire factory operations. With predictive alerts coming in from all corners of the factory, it becomes possible to orchestrate the operations more dynamically, changing the daily plan according to fresh data that comes in from along the production line.

3. Proof of concept prototypes

In traditional manufacturing, creating a new prototype for a particular product was a lengthy and extremely expensive endeavour, particularly when the concept turned out to be the wrong one and never progressed into full-scale production. But with cutting edge digital simulations, 3D representations and holograms, it becomes possible to play around with various new prototype designs, testing them with users and getting a tangible feel. By creating sophisticated prototypes in these new ways, the dramatic upfront costs of producing a single unit on the production line are greatly reduced. In this way, rapid prototyping and proof of concept can cut out another layer of cost.

As traditional manufacturers evolve towards smarter and more digital production lines, it is not always easy to know where to invest first to get the greatest ‘bang for your buck’. But by focusing on these three areas, and then building from these foundations and gradually connecting other technologies, manufacturers can address the most pressing pain point, input costs, and set themselves well on the way to reducing the cost of production.

For more information contact Dereshin Pillay, T-Systems South Africa, +27 (0)84 671 5284, dereshin.pillay@t-systems.co.za, www.t-systems.com/za/en




Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Digital Enterprise offering with ­future technologies for Industry 4.0
February 2019, Siemens Digital Factory & Process Indust. & Drives , IT in Manufacturing
By expanding its Digital Enterprise portfolio and integrating future technologies, Siemens is driving forward the digital transformation of the discrete and process industries.

Read more...
Improved supply chain efficiency and energy saving at Namibia Breweries
February 2019, IS³ - Industry Software, Solutions & Support , IT in Manufacturing
Established in 1920, Namibia Breweries is one of the leading beverage manufacturing companies in Namibia and southern Africa. Today, with the stated vision to be the ‘most progressive and inspiring company’, ...

Read more...
Operators step into the future
February 2019, SKF South Africa , IT in Manufacturing
Recognising the increasingly vital role that technology plays in business, SKF continues to move with the Industry 4.0 tide. In line with its ‘World Class Manufacturing’ initiative, SKF has implemented ...

Read more...
Spresense platform brings sound and vision to IoT devices
February 2019, RS Components SA , IT in Manufacturing
RS Components has boosted opportunities to create smarter IoT devices by introducing Sony Spresense, featuring Arm Cortex-M4F performance and extensive sensing, audio, and imaging capabilities. The low-power ...

Read more...
Towards the Smart Factory
February 2019, Omron Electronics , IT in Manufacturing
With much of the reported paradigm of Industry 4.0 resting on self-configuration of machinery and production lines, Omron’s Victor Marquess looks at what can already be achieved to get on the path to ...

Read more...
Unobtrusive approach to digitalisation
February 2019, Parker Hannifin Sales Company South , IT in Manufacturing
As Industry 4.0 continues to unfold, increasing numbers of manufacturers, big and small, are seeking the best opportunities to increase the automation of their industrial processes and improve productivity. ...

Read more...
Enhanced intelligence at the edge
February 2019, RJ Connect , IT in Manufacturing
A new computing model that helps create autonomous edge nodes is changing the IIoT landscape. Edge nodes are data-aggregation points in an IIoT system, where the physical world of sensors and actuators ...

Read more...
Simple connection of converters supports cloud-based applications
February 2019, Siemens Digital Factory & Process Indust. & Drives , IT in Manufacturing
The new Sinamics Connect 300 from Siemens provides a simple plug-and-play solution for integrating converters of the Sinamics family into the IT world. The new solution is suitable for low-voltage converters ...

Read more...
Yokogawa adds OpreX redundancy
February 2019, Yokogawa South Africa , IT in Manufacturing
Yokogawa has announced a platform that enables software packages to run on general-purpose computers in a redundant configuration, which has been added to its OpreX Control and Safety System family. This ...

Read more...
New performance management ­solutions for intelligent valves and pumps
January 2019 , IT in Manufacturing
While digital transformation has been getting its fair share of hype in recent years, end-users in the heavy process industries actually began digitising their plants decades ago with the introduction ...

Read more...