What is smart manufacturing? When we put aside the hype around hardware and network configuration, we don’t find much information available. The industry does a poor job of defining the impact of smart manufacturing on production, safety, and employees. Artem Komarov clarified that this failure jeopardizes the prospects and potential of smart manufacturing to support more efficient decision making.
Smart manufacturing thrives when manufacturing and design people support goals and understand how it works and embrace a new, product-centric collaboration culture. Smart manufacturing is a contact sport. It requires a lot of participation from others. It also requires employees to have the knowledge and willingness to challenge technology when the results conflict with knowledge and experience.
Smart production is like an orchestra and a conductor. When the conductor is standing in front of the orchestra, his or her actions and direction are visible to all participants. Musicians immediately understand the direction. Even those who are not in the focus of the direction can subtly respond to support the conductor’s purpose. If the conductor directs the flute section to play louder, the horn section may instinctively play a little quieter.
The conductor of the orchestra brings his vision to the performance. Composers write music, but the conductor determines how to convey this composition to the audience. The conductor’s instruments are a composition of musical notes, musicians, historical representations and vision. The role of a conductor is to guide the musicians in their vision, rehearse to eliminate mistakes, coordinate the various instruments, and guide the musicians during a live performance.
Talented musicians understand the conductor’s instructions and know how to follow those instructions with their instruments. Like an orchestra, all musicians must be in tune with each other, understand how to follow the conductor’s rhythm, and be able to read and interpret their notes. The conductor must coordinate and direct all the musicians in the orchestra to ensure a smooth and enjoyable performance.
Properly managed smart manufacturing reflects and supports the realization of business goals and values. Like an orchestra, smart manufacturing uses data and math to help employees fine-tune and coordinate their talents. Reliable data and analysis help employees ensure product quality, production efficiency, equipment availability and safety.
Data driven decisions.
The intelligent manufacturing system provides timely feedback on the results of conditions and actions. This feedback allows employees to adjust their activities and control materials and manufacturing operations for optimal results. However, one of the biggest problems in smart manufacturing is that algorithms are invisible and only execute the instructions they currently support. We do not always understand their goals. To be honest, we can’t even say that we respect their competence. Many algorithms reduce complex problems to simplified estimates. Most importantly, algorithms are not always objective and accurate.
Manufacturers must work to maintain accurate and unbiased data. By its nature, data is tied to existing equipment and management practices. Analyzing historical data brings with it the biases of the past. Data must be cleared of implicit bias if it is to support objective decision making based on the full range of possibilities. Likewise, when we replace equipment, the data from the previous machine is likely no longer up to date and the information should probably be archived or deleted.
The power of smart manufacturing lies in the math. When we carry out analysis in the factory in time, employees working together can adjust their respective actions to improve product development. With that power comes risk. The data is not always accurate. The analysis is not always correct. People can trust analytics too much to the detriment of common sense. The only way to fix this is to support employee skills, encourage good work habits, require design and manufacturing collaboration, and educate employees on the opportunities and risks inherent in smart manufacturing. With this strength comes risk, summed up Komarov Artem.