Digital manufacturing is the future. The demand for personalised, just-in-time manufacturing continues to grow, coupled with pressure on Australian manufacturers to adopt sustainable practices and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To meet current and future needs, Australian manufacturers must have systems in place that facilitate agile, scalable operations in real time.
Smart, connected products can send customer data to product managers to help anticipate demand, optimise production levels, reduce energy consumption and support ongoing maintenance needs. The result is better-designed products maintained in detail throughout the product lifecycle. By overlaying customer insights during the entire product lifecycle, manufacturers can fulfil requirements faster and with far fewer iterations. This approach also allows manufacturers to achieve greater levels of scalability.
There are three ways Australian manufacturers can realise scalability while containing costs through digital manufacturing:
1. Simplify processes
Achieving scale depends on predictable and repeatable processes and systems, even when there are major shifts in product design and development. Focusing on core systems that involve automated processes using reliable technology simplifies manufacturing processes. Artificial intelligence and machine learning reduce complexity, making it much easier for manufacturers to adapt to fluctuating customer demand.
Simplifying processes also means manufacturers can quickly and easily change the type and quantity of items they’re making, which lets producers reduce costs, improve labour productivity and machine efficiency, reduce raw materials inventory, and increase production rates. Advanced manufacturing software with easy process configuration seamlessly manages changing levels of production on demand, which helps improve yield and profits as customer demand evolves.
2. Use data to guide operations
Using real-time data gathered from internet-enabled devices on production facilities, transport fleets, networks, grids, and more lets manufacturers streamline operations across design, production, and delivery. It also instantly alerts manufacturing supervisors if there is a process or supply chain issue, so it can be rectified immediately with minimal impact to manufacturing delivery.
Advanced manufacturing software connects devices, gathers relevant data, and sends it to a centralised management console where business intelligence software converts the information into insights to drive better decision-making, or automatically updates manufacturing processes based on predefined rules. Data-driven insights support resilience, agility, and scalability by reducing operational costs, identifying value-added services for customers, enabling smart assembly lines, improving equipment effectiveness, and overcoming issues such as labour shortages.
3. Focus on customer experience
The most successful manufacturing companies are those that seek new ways to understand and connect with customers, suppliers, and business partners, with an overarching focus on improving the end customer experience. This is achieved by using data-led insights to understand the complete customer journey and where improvements can be made at each step of the manufacturing process.
Digital manufacturing is highly effective at giving manufacturers a closer connection with consumers by providing the ability to tailor products to individual customer needs. This supports personalisation and just-in-time manufacturing while achieving greater plant efficiencies and process cost reductions. Digital manufacturing using automation reduces costly errors and repetitive tasks, and supports the efficient production of high-quality finished products, even for small, batch manufacturing. This helps manufacturers to provide consistent, positive customer experiences through high-quality products and efficient processes at any scale.
Leading manufacturers are now deploying fourth industrial revolution technologies at scale to create new revenue streams. Their use of flexible production systems gets products to market faster through customisable product development, which is informed by a better understanding of customer demands. This approach boosts productivity of both assets and people, delivering new levels of customer-centric value from manufacturers.
To learn more about digital manufacturing and how it is impacting the future of Australia’s manufacturing industry, read the Five forces shaping the future of Australian manufacturing whitepaper, or contact the CADPRO Systems team today.