ccording to McKinsey’s Digital Manufacturing Global Expert Survey from July, nearly 70 percent of respondents say digital manufacturing is a top priority. And a McKinsey whitepaper introduced at the World Economic Forum in Davos states that across sectors and diverse manufacturing types, there are around 40 proven innovations ready for immediate scale-up that major manufacturers can use to drive their digital transformation. Fully integrated into global manufacturing, these new technologies could create up to $3.7 trillion in additional global GDP by 2025.
“Industrial robots are a crucial part of the progress of manufacturing industry,” says Junji Tsuda, President of the International Federation of Robotics. “Robots evolve with many cutting-edge technologies. They are vision recognition, skill learning, failure prediction utilizing AI, new concept of man-machine-collaboration plus easy programming and so on. They will help improve productivity of manufacturing and expand the field of robot application. The IFR outlook shows that in 2021 the annual number of robots supplied to factories around the world will reach about 630,000 units.”
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Canadian brewer, Sleeman, teamed up with McRae Integration, a Toronto firm that helps factories automate, and Rockwell Automation, a Milwaukee provider of manufacturing technology, to streamline its production process. The need was compelling: Large brewers like Sleeman have been losing market share to craft brands. To compete, they need to boost productivity and increase yields while developing smaller-batch beers.
Today, Sleeman can control the line through a digital console. The new system also automatically assesses which parts of the plant can continue operating while he has stopped one portion to alter the recipe. “All of these small intuitive processes can add up to a significant reduction of the brew-cycle time,” says McRae president Andrew Bentley, who estimates four to eight hours is saved per day.
One of the key drivers of accelerated adoption of industrial robots through the 1980s and beyond was worker safety. We hear much about job losses due to robots, but little about improvements in injury rates thanks to robotic handling. Strenuous and repetitive tasks such as palletizing, or hot and dangerous part handling in metal fabrication, were given over to robots.
Every industrial robot currently requires mechanical, electrical, and software care that wasn't required by older technology. So while unskilled labor may slowly dwindle, higher-level (and therefore higher-paid) opportunities will expand.
Despite enthusiasm for digital manufacturing, few companies have realized its potential at scale, according to a new survey by McKinsey. While there is significant importance placed on the topic and many pilots have been launched across a range of use cases, less than a third of respondents cite having moved critical use cases—such as digital performance management—into large-scale rollout. At the same time, more than 90 percent of surveyed companies believe that they are either at the forefront of digital manufacturing in their industry or, at least, on par with the competition.
Capgemini found that the successful manufacturers have mastered the use of data from smart, connected products to build actionable insights. 93% of digitally successful manufacturers have mastered the ability to use data from smart, connected products to gain insights into how they can improve product designs and manufacturing techniques.