The fourth industrial revolution, which is currently unfolding, requires a rethinking of the principles of production organization and an increase in technology penetration. Digital manufacturing is no longer a matter of choice, but a task to be accomplished. It is the main direction of development of modern industrial enterprises – at this stage of development, digital technology covers not only production processes, but also penetrates all areas of activity, including management and planning.
What is digitalization of industry
Digitalization of industry is the transition to fully automated digital production, which is managed by intelligent systems in real time, constantly interacting with the external environment.
Digital production implies the creation of a multi-level integrated IT infrastructure that facilitates the transformation of multiple horizontal and vertical business processes, optimization of operational activities, and changes in established models and formats of interaction between participants in value chains.
The essence of digital transformation of industrial enterprises is to automate processes and transfer information to a more accessible digital environment where it is faster and easier to analyze to obtain accurate decisions.
Benefits of digital manufacturing for industrial enterprises
Implementing digital technology offers a number of benefits to a manufacturing company, among which the following can be highlighted:
- Increased efficiency in production and technological processes, against the backdrop of reduced costs. One aspect of digitalization is the continuous process of improvement and striving for it. Technology allows companies to reduce downtime of production equipment, reduce maintenance costs, increase productivity, reduce production cycle times and reduce inventory costs.
- Increased production flexibility. The enterprise of the future is first and foremost a flexible enterprise, quickly adapting to external changes through rapid reconfiguration and dynamic changes in the characteristics of the production process. Flexibility creates a competitive advantage for the business and improves the quality of service and customer satisfaction.
- Reducing the influence of the human factor. Digitalization in industry allows the maximum automation and robotization of all processes, resulting in reduced loss of working time, fewer rejects, faster information transfer and processing, faster decision-making and higher product quality.
- Increased safety. Digitalization reduces the number of accidents in production by times, thanks to continuous monitoring, allows you to significantly increase the level of protection of workers, reduce injuries and the impact of harmful factors of production.
Key technologies for industrial digitalization
Digital transformation of production implies several directions, including:
- Industrial Internet of Things – complexes of computer networks and related production equipment with sensors and controllers that are needed to gather information and exchange data.
- Digital twins – the creation of virtual models that replicate the physical world, and reliably describe all the processes and interrelationships of an individual object and production as a whole.
- Big data – technologies that allow to process huge amounts of unstructured data, correctly interpret and visualize them.
- Artificial intelligence – intelligent systems that can analyze information, make predictions, find opportunities for optimization and make decisions independently.
Challenges of “digital manufacturing”
The goal of digital manufacturing is to make production more flexible, adapted to the realities of the modern day, and competitive. It enables the company to determine precisely what the market needs at a given point in time, and to adjust production to that.
Digital transformation is designed to solve such problems as low productivity, irrational use of resources, high production costs, and low efficiency of production facilities.
In addition, digitalization strengthens the company’s market position, allowing it to accelerate the market launch of products and improve their quality, to produce customized products, while maintaining the same operational efficiency as mass production.
Digital systems consolidate all internal and external processes of a production enterprise into a single virtual space, helping to obtain information quickly and track work in real time, which makes management more efficient, easier and more visible.
Artificial intelligence as the main direction of digitalization
At the moment, many manufacturing companies have already completed the first stage of digitalization by automating technological processes. The task of the next stage is to introduce modern technologies into all levels of enterprise management. At this stage, the key factor of digital transformation is artificial intelligence.
China and the U.S. are leading in the use of artificial intelligence technology, and the Chinese government has made the development of AI a strategic priority.
The real-time tracking of the situation in production, the high speed of information processing and the speed of calculations make it possible to adjust plans when the situation changes, while maintaining high efficiency.