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Overcoming Industry 4.0 Challenges to Improve Connected Manufacturing

There are a number of roadblocks preventing manufacturers from achieving true Industry 4.0 processes, and at the same time, there are a number of emerging solutions bringing production further into the future.

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Radwell International Promotes Industry Leading Services Through a Virtual Exhibition

Radwell International is using the IndustryExpo Virtual Exhibition as a ‘permanently open platform’ to demonstrate its range of industry leading automation parts and repair services to 500,000+ visitors.

Today, Radwell International operates globally as one of the largest industrial repair and distribution facilities in the world. Visitors to its virtual stand are presented with a visual browsing experience that makes it easy to find information and view the complete range of services offered by Radwell International.

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Why Augmented Reality is Set to Change Manufacturing in the UK

In the digital age, what is the best way to grow a business? Adopting the newest and best technologies, of course. For this reason, enterprises and manufacturers in the UK have ventured into what is now known as Industry 4.0. These are 'smart factories' which incorporate cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT) and cyber-physical systems, among other tech advancements. In addition, many manufacturers have started to realize the benefits of implementing augmented reality (AR) to assist their production lines.

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What is Machine Vision and How Can It Help?

People are often confused about what machine vision can and cannot do for a manufacturing line or process. Understanding how it works can help make decisions about if it will resolve problems with the application.

So exactly what is machine vision, and how does it work?

Machine vision is the use of a camera or multiple cameras to inspect and analyze objects automatically, usually in an industrial or production environment. The data acquired then can be used to control a process or manufacturing activity. A typical application might be on an assembly line; after an operation is performed on a part, the camera is triggered to capture and process an image. The camera may be programmed to check the position of something, its color, size or shape, or whether the object is there or not. It also can look at and decipher a standard or 2-D matrix barcode or even read printed characters.

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Robotics as a Service Gaining Traction in Manufacturing

Robotics as a Service (RaaS), which allows manufacturers to leverage the benefits of industrial and collaborative robots in their facility without having to buy them, is becoming popular.

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What is a PLC?

A Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) is an electronic device used to monitor or control production processes. It is a device that a user can program to perform a series or sequence of events. These events are triggered by inputs received at the programmable logic controller through delayed actions such as time delays.

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Managing Your Obsolescence in the Manufacturing Industry

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” The words of legendary innovator Alexander Graham Bell. And, of course, we know this to be true both in business and in the manufacturing environment. It is critical to plan ahead, but some things are harder to plan for than others, even when we know they’re coming. 

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How Industry 4.0 Can Be Implemented In An Affordable Way

In the world of manufacturing, Industry 4.0 is bringing exciting changes to how companies operate. When implemented correctly, the initiatives that go along with Industry 4.0 have the potential to make manufacturing safer, more cost-efficient and more effective. The combination of traditional manufacturing with the modern Internet of Things and a holistic approach is a big move forward for companies.

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Robotics and Al in the Manufacturing Environment

Smart Manufacturing: The Autonomous Future of Industry

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Three Technologies Redefining Services in Manufacturing

Manufacturing is in transition. Given the current geopolitical events surrounding the UK economy – it’s an uncertain time, not least within the UK manufacturing sector which is under immense pressure, having recently fallen in the global ranks when it comes to total output.

Beyond the need to adapt to the changing economic climate, there is also a growing demand to keep pace with the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) which is transforming the sector, as well as adapting to ever changing customer demands. Within this changing landscape, manufacturers are up against it to meet and exceed these expectations.

To succeed, manufacturers are increasingly focused on enabling their service teams to drive increased productivity and capabilities to deliver a differentiated customer experience. Our research found that manufacturing firms are pulling on the three technological areas of Mobile, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) to maximise their service offering:

Mobile: the manufacturing ‘app economy’

The app economy has been talked about since applications were initially launched in 2008. Now the industry is worth upwards of £8.8bn in the UK. While the concept is by no means new, it has become an integral part of our day-to-day lives, both working and social. Hence why manufacturers must ensure they have adapted their business cultures to embrace a mobile-first approach that industries such as retail and entertainment have adopted for several years now.

This shift underpins a change in the times. Mobile apps in the workplace are no longer a luxury, they are a necessity. Employees need access to comprehensive data, that is up-to-date and easily visible. It is essential that service teams have access to high quality mobile customer service apps that provide the insight they need, in real-time. The use of applications ultimately makes it easier and quicker for technicians to retrieve their work schedules, log activity or product information in real time, which can make a big difference to the quality of service offered. Today, it’s not acceptable for a technician to turn up on site without access to the relevant data or product information, especially when face-to-face with customers.

AI: proactive, predictive service

AI is one of the most talked about and transformational technologies disrupting multiple industries. From case classification and intelligent routing to forecasting resolution time and service capacity, it can bring game-changing opportunities for the manufacturing sector and its service models.

More than 53% of companies are using predictive analytics. By pulling on AI, manufacturers are able to offer a proactive, not reactive, service. The technology can anticipate faults before they even happen, flag issues to customer service teams or agents and resolve the issue before it evolves. For example, Salesforce’s Einstein AI layer can analyse an impending technical fault and compares it with previous work orders. The insight is used to recommend tools, parts and techniques to solve the problem based on past experiences.

These steps are being replicated across the industry. Once a customer experiences this level of predictive service, they will no longer accept anything less, emphasising the importance of keeping pace.

IoT: helping manufacturers address issues before they arise

In the UK, 68% of manufacturers expect companies to start providing internet-connected products and services by 2020, according to our State of Service report. The expectation is there, but manufacturers are moving with caution. Understandably so given the current macro-environment.

Yet, McKinsey predicts the IoT market to be worth upwards of $517bn by 2020, with industries such as manufacturing, transportation and utilities set to spend $40bn on IoT platforms in that period. This is a clear indication of the steady, but growing, influence IoT is having on manufacturers and their service offering.

IoT brings operational efficiency. For example, imagine your washing machine breaks down, connected sensors can determine where the issue is occurring and trigger a request to an engineer. In a similar fashion to AI, it can initiate a request to an engineer on their mobile device to respond to the repair or assign someone else to the job. It's about taking a preventative maintenance approach instead of putting the manufacturer or the customer at an expense to deal with unexpected repairs or replacements.

Modern technologies, like AI and IoT, are introducing new services to customers with ease and speed that wasn’t possible before. There is a direct correlation between the adoption of these technologies and customer expectations, and customers will no longer accept anything less.

Time is now

Connected technologies bring the service offering together. With pressure mounting and digital disruption a constant challenge (and opportunity) manufacturers must invest in their service offering to bring a personalised experience to meet customer expectations.

It's certainly a time of significant pressure and economic challenges. Industry boundaries are being redefined. For those who fail to adopt such models risk falling behind, and ultimately being disrupted. However, manufacturers who recognise these opportunities and adapt accordingly to change, will thrive in this new era.

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