How Does Quality Intelligence Enable the Factory of the Future?

In our ongoing exploration of the future of manufacturing, we’ve outlined how the manufacturing world is on the cusp of the next Industrial Revolution and how humans may work alongside machines in the forthcoming Factory of the Future. We will see collaborative robots, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), and cloud computing converge to form “smart factories” where internet-connected machines not only execute the majority of production on the plant floor, but also produce and collect quality data across the supply chain.
 
While these new autonomous, cyber-physical environments can operate with far greater speed, safety, and accuracy than traditional plants, they don’t delve deep enough into quality data to fully optimize processes. This level of process and quality improvements requires a Quality Intelligence solution that can capitalize on the advances in automation, IIoT, and cloud computing. Quality managers can then attain organization-wide visibility and enact global transformations.
 
Unparalleled Data Visibility
In recent years, people have fully embraced the internet of things (IoT) in their personal lives. From thermostats to fitness trackers, smart devices capture and process data on how we interact with the physical world every day. To their credit (and profit), an increasing number of manufacturers are adopting the industrial internet of things (IIoT): devices, sensors, and robots that are mutually connected via the internet and installed on production lines to gather extensive data on manufacturing processes. According to a report by Accenture, spending on the IIoT worldwide is expected to grow from $20 billion in 2012 to $500 billion by 2020. And by 2030, it’s projected to reach $15 trillion.
 
When deployed across all operations, IIoT technologies produce unprecedented amounts of data. A Quality Intelligence platform brings all this information together to give manufacturers a “big picture” view of process quality across all of their plants, production lines, products, processes, shifts, and suppliers. Organizations can then use this level of visibility to mitigate weaknesses and magnify strengths in their manufacturing operations.
 
Strategic, Intelligent Insight
In the future smart factory, intelligent machines, devices, and applications will be able to use the data racing across the plant floor to “make decisions” on their own. Through advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning, these components will be able to autonomously analyze the data and make adjustments to machine settings or processes to continuously improve efficiency and optimize operations. What’s more, with less human intervention on the production line, there will be fewer defects and errors, resulting in higher quality products.
 
Beyond the plant floor, quality professionals, operations managers, and C-suite executives can use the enterprise visibility attained through the quality intelligence solution to analyze dashboards that present essential data and insights according to each user’s role, access permissions, and level of responsibility. They can apply optimal adjustments and best practices from top performing plants to all sites for enterprise-wide benefits. They can also compare quality across multiple sites, products, processes, lines, shifts, or production runs to identify continuous improvement opportunities that lead to global transformation and exponential cost savings.
 
Evolution to Digitization
If the smart factory sounds like a distant pipe dream that is out of reach for your organization, you’re not alone. But, this doesn’t mean you can’t start taking steps forward. After all, a digital transformation of this magnitude doesn’t happen overnight. You can employ an iterative approach at a pace that is better aligned with your financial and human resources.
 
Manufacturers of all sizes and IT budgets can turn to a Quality Intelligence solution today, even if they haven’t implemented any new-age factory technologies. Affordable and scalable for a single site or 300, a Quality Intelligence solution is easily deployed and configured to automatically deliver the right data to the right people – when and where they need it. A Quality Intelligence solution can help to aggregate your data–whether collected automatically or manually–find strategic and actionable insight, and identify opportunities for significant transformation.
 
By starting with a Quality Intelligence solution that unifies your data in a centralized repository, you can see the benefits of enterprise-wide visibility, operational intelligence, and consistent process quality improvements as you prepare your organization for the next steps in its digital transformation. These transformative benefits will ready your organization to embrace the future of manufacturing quality. That way, when you do adopt Factory of the Future technologies, the results will be tenfold.
 
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