Manufacturing is fundamentally about innovation. It boosts economic capacity, strengthens workforces, and opens doors to progress and opportunities. Since the industrial revolution, a lot has changed, and the industry has become much more complicated. Changing customer demands, labor issues, supply chain disruptions, technological breakthroughs, and sustainability requirements are all driving the industry’s once-in-a-century revolution right now. In this blog, we will talk about four crucial trends that are reshaping manufacturing on the lines of innovation:
- Empowering a connected workforce
- Nurturing intelligent engineering and factories with the industrial metaverse
- Establishing agile supply chains
- Accelerating sustainability
According to Dominik Wee, CVP of Manufacturing and Mobility at Microsoft, AI has more tremendous potential for the manufacturing sector than any other field, and he ascertains that we have merely glimpsed the tip of the iceberg of what is possible!
Top trends shaping Manufacturing Industry in 2023
Let us explore how Artificial Intelligence solutions advance the manufacturing sector by bringing forward these four impactful trends, which can be genuinely transformational.
Empower the connected workforce with more power.
A connected workforce is essential to enabling intelligent factories, and 63% of frontline manufacturing employees are enthusiastic about the job opportunities that technology creates. AI solutions enhance operations by streamlining daily tasks, boosting efficiency, safety, and productivity, and supporting the development of an engaged workforce from the front office to the manufacturing floor.
Manufacturers face many unprecedented and unique challenges, which can be answered by developing AI solutions to solve specific difficulties. With solutions such as assisting in streamlining frontline operations, enhancing communication and cooperation, boosting the employee experience, and strengthening security across shared devices, AI can take care of several pain points. Let us comprehend the new improvements and workforce capabilities based on the latest Microsoft technology.
- It is exciting to know that a public preview of the native integration of AI-enabled Power Virtual Agents (PVA) into Power Apps is presently available. Frontline manufacturing workers can quickly obtain intelligent solutions within the context of their industrial applications thanks to the readily available AI-infused virtual agents in Power Apps.
- Manufacturers can leverage Teams as the calling solution to get in touch with co-workers, clients, and suppliers. Workers on the factory floor will be able to make and receive calls using shared mobile Android phones later this year, no matter where their jobs take them.
Constructing agile and resilient supply chains
Although supply chain disruption is nothing new, organizations are finding it increasingly difficult to deal with because of its complexity and velocity of change. Nearly 90% of supply chain experts intend to invest in strategies to make their supply chains more robust since manufacturers are under pressure to prevent and minimize interruptions.
Several Microsoft solutions, such as Supply Chain Platform and Supply Chain Centre, leverage data and AI to help manufacturing enterprises. These products lower risk in complicated supply chains and offer a pre-built “command center,” enabling businesses like Kraft Heinz to meet their specific requirements without upgrading their current systems.
Additionally, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Copilot offers enterprises generative AI-powered real-time predictive insights across materials, inventories, distribution networks, and more, preventing possible disruptions before they occur.
Utilizing Microsoft Azure high-performance computing (HPC), the semiconductor business STMicroelectronics revolutionized its supply chain, enhanced research, and development, and scaled manufacturing. They can now market their goods more quickly, double capacity by 2025, and achieve carbon neutrality by 2027. Let us consider another use case for Toyota. With autonomous guided vehicles that can swiftly and accurately carry out repetitive operations, Toyota Material Handling Europe integrates warehouse automation into Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management, leading to enhanced efficiency and production. In addition, Microsoft is collaborating with clients to increase the resilience of their supply chains.
Collaboration of people and AI- Intelligent engineering and factories with the industrial metaverse
The development of intelligent factories has been one of the most considerable advances in manufacturing. Consider a networked industrial environment where users can view and engage with complex operations in real-time using data from the actual world. The industrial metaverse—constructed with foundational technologies like AI, Digital Twins, Mixed Reality, ML, and Cloud-To-Edge can truly transform how businesses operate and manage their proceedings. It generates real-time value by leveraging remote operations, upskilling, AI-driven processes, optimized assets, robotics, automation, and autonomous operations.
Similarly, the Industrial Metaverse is opening new ways to enhance collaboration and immersion in product engineering. In a market that is becoming more competitive, this helps manufacturing organizations shorten and quicken their time to market.
Some of Microsoft’s latest technology that supports manufacturers and frontline workers are- the introduction of Windows 11 to HoloLens 2, which strengthens security, and provides the latest tools for developers. Additionally, there are new updates to Dynamics 365 Guides, involving the capability to annotate anything within reach, a unique security feature called “Restricted Mode” that gives organizations more control over their mixed reality apps, and new updates to Teams calling within Guides to improve the user experience.
Latest from Hannover Messe
Siemens is harnessing generative AI to support industrial firms in fostering innovation and enhancing efficiency throughout the product’s design, engineering, manufacturing, and operating lifecycles. It will offer a Teamcenter app to Microsoft Teams that use the language models in Azure Open-AI Service to improve cross-functional cooperation.
At the latest Hannover Messe 2023 (global industrial trade show for industrial transformation), Microsoft showcased how an Azure AI Service powered assistant can improve the writing, refining, and debugging of software for factory automation, as well as how we can leverage industrial AI to provide visual quality inspection on the shop floor. Similarly, NVIDIA’s Omni-verse Cloud simplifies the digitization of workflows for teams across various domains, including design, engineering, and frontline operators enabling tasks such as digital twins creation and closed-loop simulations.
Sustainability, energy optimization, and fuel cell innovation are more significant now than ever.
Sustainability is emerging as one of the important trends in manufacturing which had earlier followed mostly a linear ‘take-make-dispose’ model. Manufacturers implementing eco-friendly practices and initiatives, such as employing renewable energy sources, adopting circular economy principles to reduce waste, and optimizing manufacturing processes to minimize environmental impact, place high importance on sustainability. Tech giants like Microsoft are also working towards sustainability by laying the groundwork for an energy-efficient and sustainable future.
With the help of its technology, such as the Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability, and its extensive ecosystem of partners, it is aspiring to build sustainability.
Many of society’s most challenging sustainability issues are chemistry and materials science concerns that can only be solved by a scaled quantum machine. But with the ongoing improvements in classical computing power, we can now resolve more quantum chemistry issues by utilizing cutting-edge cloud services. Johnson Matthey, a leader in sustainable technology worldwide, has partnered with Microsoft’s Azure Quantum chemists to create new predictive modelling tools using Azure HPC’s supercomputing power and streamlined workflows to speed up chemical simulations, investigate the possibilities of AI, and prepare for quantum technology.
A lot of manufacturers are dealing with the compelling scenario of rising energy costs on the factory floor and in the production plant. Microsoft and its partners are researching along with manufacturers to prioritize the top use cases that will assist manufacturers in gaining visibility into where energy loss is occurring and triaging the problem through targeted assessments.
How can we help you in becoming an agile manufacturing enterprise?
These fantastic developments are taking place right now- all to support our efforts to forge a stronger, more resilient, and more sustainable future ahead. If you are a manufacturer looking for a technology partner to implement these latest manufacturing trends into practice or if you want to start your digital transformation journey, we at Saxon can assist you. Having in-depth subject expertise and Microsoft-based solutions, we can support you according to your business needs. We also have specialized programs such as InnovAIte that will help you leverage AI to solve your business challenges and drive growth.