In the 1970s and 80s, we witnessed a revolutionary wave of productivity improvements in manufacturing. New technologies, including personal computers (PCs), numerically controlled (NC) machines, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), combined with new process improvement ideas like Total Quality Management (TQM), Just-In-Time, and Six Sigma yielded great new levels of productivity and efficiency in many manufacturing industries.

Now, in this decade, we are seeing a similar convergence of technologies and process improvement initiatives with the potential to radically improve the way manufacturers thread processes and systems in the entire product value chain in order to deliver more options and new service models to customers.

Several organizations that bring together manufacturers, technologies and information systems, organizations like MESA (Manufacturing Enterprise Systems Association), the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC), and the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition (SMLC), are working on initiatives including the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Smart Manufacturing to coordinate this convergence of technologies and realize the process improvement potential sooner rather than later.

The Smart Manufacturing Landscape ExplainedSmart Manufacturing is an initiative to bring about a revolution in manufacturing business strategy, turning traditional factories from cost centers into profitable innovation centers, through the integration of industrial automation, IIoT, and information technology (IT) including cloud services, 3D models, mobile computing, intelligence, and integration platforms.

Smart Manufacturing will enable proactive management of the manufacturing enterprise through informed, timely (as close to real-time as possible), in-depth decision execution. Smart Manufacturing initiatives share the following goals:

  • Ability to receive published data from equipment using secure open standards, analyze and aggregate the data, and trigger process controls back to equipment, systems of record and process workflows across the enterprise and value chain connected via A2A and B2B open standards.
  • Autonomous and distributed decision support at the device, machine and factory level.
  • Ubiquitous use of mined information throughout the product value chain including end-to-end value chain visibility for each product line connecting manufacturer to customers and supplier network.
  • Enhanced information- and analytics-based decision making on large amounts of raw data gathered from the smart manufacturing equipment and processes.
  • New levels of efficiency to support new services and business models including mass customization (highly configured products) and product-as-a-service.
  • Provide a broad portfolio of these advanced capabilities to manufacturers of all sizes and in all industry sectors, at acceptable levels of cost and implementation complexity.