What is digital manufacturing?
Digital manufacturing, also known as Industry 4.0, is the integration of technologies into the production process to make plant operations more flexible, efficient and resilient in the face of changing market demands.
Enabling the factory of the future
As new technologies become available, manufacturers have new opportunities to enhance their competitiveness. Digital manufacturing initiatives can help companies optimise operations and gain faster time to insight from their manufacturing data. Thanks to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and edge computing, manufacturers can now digitise plant floor operations, processes and even the products themselves.
Bridging the digital and industrial worlds
As more data is collected from billions of devices in production facilities, the ability to transform it into actionable insights is critical for manufacturers’ long-term competitiveness. The addition of small, low-cost sensors to more equipment and greater network connectivity throughout plant floors increase the level of digital intelligence in production processes available to manufacturers. Incorporating this detailed data with other business systems in real time helps companies have a more accurate understanding of their processes and can enable them to identify new opportunities more quickly.
What are the benefits of digital manufacturing?
By integrating both the physical and digital world, digital manufacturing makes it possible to transform the production process, improve business operations and drive revenue growth. Data from across the enterprise – including the manufacturing execution system (MES), product life cycle management (PLM), supply chain management (SCM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) –can deliver insights and enable more informed strategic decision-making. By leveraging digital manufacturing practices, organisations are better able to:
- Connect workers with data and insights to monitor and control plant floor equipment, products and even the production processes themselves.
- Achieve faster time to insight using data that spans plant floor operations, product life cycle management, supply chain management and business operations.
- Accelerate time to market with faster product design and simulation made possible with digital technologies.
- Enable more efficient operations through improved visibility into plant floor operations and equipment performance, which make it possible to adopt predictive maintenance and condition monitoring practices.
- Gain agility and resilience with an automation strategy based on converged edge computing, which makes it possible to realise adaptive, flexible automation.
Use cases for digital manufacturing
As enterprise IT converges with plant floor operations technology (OT), numerous use cases across the manufacturing cycle become possible. The intelligent factory of the future enables many advances to help manufacturers remain competitive in a dynamic landscape:
Virtual product development: Digital design and simulation technologies, including remote visualisation, computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided engineering (CAE) and electronic design automation (EDA) solutions, make faster, more reliable design, modelling and simulation possible. These virtual processes also reduce the time, expense and materials needed to develop physical prototypes to test new products.
Guided assembly: Augmented reality (AR) can help guide on-site workers through the set-up for different product configurations and assemblies. These AR-based guided assemblies can help reduce defects in output.
Maintenance and repair: “See what I see” technologies put line workers directly in touch with remote experts for faster diagnosis and resolution of equipment issues and make specific expertise more accessible for more plant locations.
Video analytics: Sophisticated sensors and video analytics enable greater speed and accuracy in the quality assurance process, making it possible for workers to more quickly intervene and reduce the amount of low-quality product that must be discarded.
Condition monitoring and predictive maintenance: By monitoring equipment and tracking changes in performance over time, manufacturers can predict maintenance issues before they occur to reduce repair costs and unplanned downtime.
Digital twin: Digitalise plant floor asset performance and processes to monitor and adjust production. And by testing on a digital twin in the design process, teams can run many tests, making design changes with each iteration before testing on a physical prototype.
HPE solutions for digital manufacturing
The IT/OT convergence creates new opportunities to ignite innovation, increase operational efficiency, reduce downtime and improve worker safety and productivity. HPE can help manufacturers achieve these benefits through our edge-to-cloud industrial IoT solutions.
High performance computing (HPC) helps shorten development cycles and keeps iteration turnaround times low. HPE HPC solutions scale easily with purpose-built storage and software to power innovation. HPE Apollo systems deliver purpose-built compute for demanding HPC and AI applications. Our HPC storage is as well suited for the unique demands of AI as traditional all-flash enterprise file storage and is as scalable and cost-effective as traditional parallel storage. We also offer a comprehensive portfolio of software solutions designed to help you get the best performance out of your systems.
Use your data to manufacture more quickly, predict failures, reduce unexpected downtime and increase automation. HPE IIoT solutions bring computing to your data streams and eliminate the expense and risk of sending data to the cloud. Find relationships in your data to determine cause and effect and to improve efficiency and predictability. From ruggedised edge computing systems to edge-to-cloud wired and wireless networking to condition monitoring solutions, we can help you connect, analyse and share data to automate and drive insights from your IIoT data and apps.
With the HPE GreenLake edge-to-cloud platform, IT can now deliver a modernised solution that is adaptable, scalable, secure and streamlined to provide business efficiencies from the shop floor to the executive suite. It offers workload-optimised services and agile infrastructure to enable faster access to data and insights, combining the automation, agility and economics of the cloud with the security and performance of on-premises infrastructure.