There is no denying that technological innovation is moving faster now than ever before, and getting on board with the changes is the mark of a successful business. At first glance, manufacturing might not seem like an industry that requires much change: after all, we have been mass-producing things for over a century and have become pretty damn good at it. However, manufacturing software development, machine learning, and other forms of digital transformation have the potential to boost the evolution of the industry even further.
Digital transformation in manufacturing is what we call the use of digital technologies for the betterment of manufacturing processes: from the very first stages of planning to the end results of production. It can boost manufacturing efficiency, quality, and accessibility with a range of solutions of different scope. For example, it could be a single app used by a production supervisor or an entire software ecosystem integrated into each business process.
To get a better grasp of the phenomenon and what it can do for businesses, let’s explore the topic more thoroughly.
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Types of Transformative Solutions
Digitizing your business does not simply mean setting up computers and running a certain program: the variety of solutions in this field is vast, and some of the main types include:
3D product visualization
For product-oriented companies, product visualization has several internal and external benefits. It usually involves an interface where a rendered product model is featured with certain interactive options, such as rotation, color modification, and zoom. Sometimes, an entire configurator is made for the product, so the user can customize it to their liking. When used for internal purposes, company staff can use the visualizations to aid future development or even boost the efficiency of their operations.
For example, these models can be integrated into a PLM (product lifecycle management) system, which optimized the different stages of a product’s lifecycle from the acquisition of materials to distribution. As for external uses, they usually include presenting products in a much more accessible way to customers and creating a more engaging shopping experience.
Training and simulation
Some people in the industry believe that the only proper way to train real workers and prepare them for various situations that occur during production is to put them in the driver’s seat of equipment and let them pick up needed skills through practical experience. However, this is rarely the safest approach available, and can be a hindrance to the overall operation of the facility.
Thankfully, modern technologies allow us to create digital training programs and simulations that are much safer and offer an analogous level of practical knowledge. For example, a user can be asked to run a program where they control an avatar operating heavy equipment. They still see and perform the relevant movements, but there is no risk to them and they don’t need to be anywhere near the equipment.
Digital twins are virtual representations of real-life objects, systems, and processes. One of their defining traits is accuracy: they are typically created using real physical data and measurements. For example, a twin of a pump may attach several sensors inside measuring the flow of water, levels of pressure, etc.
Building a twin of this type can help a business prototype changes to their products or new models altogether. It can also help identify issues with the function of machinery and integrated systems while finding ways to improve efficiency. To make the data more accessible, it is common for twins to feature visualizations of the object or system.
Virtual and augmented reality have a wide range of uses in manufacturing, stemming from their ability to create immersive experiences and successfully mimic real settings and things. In the context of factories and plants, the technology can be applied from the earliest stages of building planning and extend to actual production.
For example, wearing AR glasses or a VR headset, workers can have a much easier time designing new models or preparing for equipment maintenance. The hardware can also be used to examine existing equipment and products, learn to work with them, and find various areas of improvement.
Working at a plant might not be anyone’s idea of having fun, but the work doesn’t have to be boring. Adding gamification (game elements to a learning or work setting) to certain jobs can make them much more interesting and engaging to workers, thus boosting their productivity and making the position more appealing. For example, someone standing on a production line can log their performance on a mobile app and earn bonuses from the company.
Should You Outsource This Service or Keep it In-house?
If you have been enticed by the benefits of digital transformation in manufacturing and opted to modernize your business with a digital approach, it may not be as simple as you expect. For example, if you choose to implement the changes in-house, you will probably need to look at time-tested strategies in this field and choose a plan that works best for you. You will surely need solid knowledge of the chosen tech stack and what it can do for your business. Furthermore, as most transformations happen with the help of specialized software, you will need to assemble a team of software developers, designers, and other specialists to get it done.
In contrast, hiring experts skilled in digitization will spare you much of the hassle that you would experience if you went at it alone. These experts (preferably a whole firm) should have experience in implementing digitization strategies and can apply the same successful expertise to your project. Furthermore, they normally offer talented software developers, business analysts, and specialists of other callings to push your business into a new era of innovation.
Transformative Solutions from Program-Ace
Program-Ace is a company ready to cater to a wide range of transformative needs. This includes all 5 types of solutions listed above as well as others, including certain aspects of machine learning. Below are some of our digital transformation examples in manufacturing:
- Emergency Evacuation
- Fruit Procurement
- Crop Scouting
- Oil Platform Simulator
This is a training application accessible to many users at once. It simulates a situation when workers must quickly escape from a facility due to a fire or other emergency situations.
A gamification strategy is implemented in this app. It is meant to be used by both farmers and distributors of goods to make their cooperation more entertaining and meaningful.
Using a wide range of technologies (MR, ML, Cloud, Drones), this platform helps survey farmland, collect data, and identify issues when they occur. While the app is not directly linked to manufacturing, the same scouting and big data solution can be applied in an industrial setting.
The Oil Platform Simulator is another training program built for the benefit of employees. It models a platform where oil is collected and teaches workers how to handle the equipment on the platform, similar to the kind of work done in factories and plants.
We Can Help Your Business With Digital Transformation!
If you browse through our portfolio, you can find many more examples of products and services geared towards modernizing industry. As we continue building enterprise solutions for a multitude of partners, we are always eager to pick up new and exciting projects. If you are considering modernizing your business, you can contact us and we will show you how it can be achieved, and make it happen if you choose our services.