April 15, 2022

Source: Claudia Jarrett, US Country Manager | EU Automation | Manufacturing Tomorrow

Here, Claudia Jarrett, US country manager at automation parts supplier EU Automation, explains how big players can learn from local businesses, using the IoT to their advantage.

Harvard Business Review reports that multinational companies are finding it difficult to optimize their products, services and culture to local markets. The article says that big players are finding international growth costly and cumbersome, especially in countries where they don’t have staff who are familiar with local cultures and customers or reliable local supply chain partners. 

Local companies understand the culture, language and compliance issues, of course, which raises the question: is there a better and more cost-effective way for large manufacturers to integrate local businesses and workers into their networks? Let’s look at some steps big manufacturers can take, and why the IoT will prove essential.

Going local

Three quarters of German manufacturers surveyed in Pricewaterhouse Cooper (PwC)’s Digital Factories 2020 report named regionalization as their main driver for investing in digital factories. The interviewees cited several benefits of Industry 4.0, including better customer proximity and more individualized, flexible production. 

One way large manufacturers can achieve better regionalization, or localization, is by integrating Manufacturing Execution Systems (MESs) into Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) infrastructure. Not only can companies plan and control production in real-time, processes can also be digitized and communicated across the entire value chain — including between headquarters and local facilities.

One example, also cited in PwC’s report, is the electronics giant Philips that has increasingly integrated robots, 3D printing, big data analytics and digital twin capabilities into its manufacturing site at Drachten, Netherlands. Not only does the site itself employ 2000 workers of 35 different nationalities, with an understanding of the culture and languages of those countries, the plant itself is also within a large network of 16 high-tech manufacturing companies across Northern Europe.

According to Philips, the IoT systems facilitate better communication and worker collaboration throughout the network. In addition, they also support better localization of Philip’s products including vacuum cleaners, coffee machines and hair stylers that now have first time right designs for local markets.

Future work 

By expanding into local markets, manufacturers gain access to a new pool of potential workers with unique skills. However, there are obstacles too, including differences in business culture, operations and languages. While companies like Philips use IoT systems to help their multinational employees network with one another, how can manufacturers guarantee that all workers feel included or brought into the fold? 

Some answers can be found in the 2021 paper by Masood Rangraz and Lena Pareto published in the International Journal of Lifelong Education, Workplace work-integrated learning: supporting industry 4.0 transformation for small manufacturing plants by reskilling staff”. Rangraz and Pareto studied a small manufacturing plant transitioning from a manual assembly line to one that operates 24 hours a day with automated robotic systems. Crucially, its shopfloor employees had no experience of working with robots or automation. Instead, the small manufacturing plant invested in reskilling its workers, giving them new competences to work with IoT systems. 

Rangraz and Pareto write of how automation is “transforming the duties, work arrangements, distribution of roles and division of labour to accommodate the needs of the automated assembly process.” The study adds: “Although the manual assembly required more human physical labour, the automated assembly process required more human monitoring labour for additional shifts.”

In this case, we see how automation can provide learning and working opportunities for employees, both new and existing and low- and high-skilled, or even unskilled. This is where IoT systems with easy-to-use human machine interfaces (HMIs) can play a vital role in getting everyone in an organization onboard and directly involved with more accessible data share through customized reports. That includes onboarding staff from local markets and local cultures.

Digital transformation 

We’ve looked at how large global manufacturers can bring local talent into the fold. But what about establishing reliable supply chain partnerships? Tata Steel is setting an example by establishing better networks with suppliers with the IoT and big data. 

Serkan Sarioglu, customer engagement manager for Tata Steel, writes: “There is immense amount of data which could be used for improvements in supply planning, steel manufacturing, steel forming and many other fields. Even relatively simple solutions like material traceability could unlock a wide range of applications from quality management to circular business models.”

Sarioglu gives the example of a global manufacturer using feedback from OEMs or suppliers in local markets to fine-tune its supply and products. Tata Steel has turned to blockchain, the IoT, virtual reality (VR), machine learning and more. That includes a recent partnership with World Economic Forum with view to developing a blockchain platform that will address transparency issues in the mining and metal industries. With its capability to store encrypted blocks of data in chains, shared securely and chronologically along a peer-to-peer networks, blockchain could play a vital role in tracking and tracing materials. 

Sarioglu believes that the system could also help with product localization and even win the reporting of carbon emissions as part of a sustainability strategy. He writes: “It is exciting times to be involved in this digital transformation.”

To make this transformation work, however, manufacturers should seek to apply the latest Industry 4.0 technologies. But this needn’t be costly, and an industrial automation parts supplier like EU Automation can help manufacturers embrace data-driven systems as part of a low-cost digital retrofitting strategy. But, as Rangraz and Pareto write, “The organisations then need to pay equal attention to the change in the competence as they do to the change in the technology.” 

Fortunately, IoT systems can play a crucial role in bringing local manufacturing facilities and workers into the fold. With the IoT, it can be easier for large manufacturers to optimize their products, services and culture into local markets. 

To know more about the range of new, reconditioned and obsolete parts available from EU Automation, visit www.euautomation.com

The post The Future of Work in Developing Nations – IOT Helps Global Manufacturers Break Into Local Markets appeared first on Internet of Business.

March 29, 2022

Source:  Jane Marsh, Editor-in-Chief at Environment.co | Manufacturing Tomorrow 

In the U.S., manufacturing new goods accounts for nearly a quarter of all carbon emissions. By keeping goods in use for as long as possible, businesses can both cut down on their emissions and create economic opportunity.

Circular economy practices that prevent goods from going to landfills – by encouraging reuse or recycling – can help. However, these practices aren’t always easy to implement. Right now, brands are experimenting with Industry 4.0 technology that may streamline the circular approach.

How Technology Can Help Businesses Build the Circular Economy

Developing a circular economy will require a variety of different practices and new business strategies. Technology may make these practices much easier to implement.

For example, design for reusability or recyclability is one way for businesses to keep goods in the economy. If a device or product is easy to reuse or break down into recyclable components, both individuals and businesses may be more likely to reuse or recycle.

Design for recycling isn’t a new concept, but it can be challenging to implement for some devices. New design tools and design automation technology may help make design for recycling much more practical.

Some recyclers and manufacturers are also using Industry 4.0 technology like AI to streamline recycling or the design process. The pattern-finding abilities of AI can help manufacturers create designs that are more recyclable.

In other cases, circular economic practices may look similar to the preventive maintenance that many businesses already perform. Vendors of yard equipment, for example, often recommend certain end-of-year maintenance practices that can keep tools working well.

In other industries, manufacturers can work with their customers to encourage preventive maintenance practices, which can keep tools and equipment running for much longer.

These practices can have benefits for both customers and manufacturers – customers get a product that lasts longer, and manufacturers can develop a reputation for creating reliable tools. Technology like maintenance scheduling tools and equipment management systems may help both manufacturers and customers keep on top of essential maintenance.

Put together, these circular economic practices and technologies may help a wide variety of businesses reduce their carbon footprint or adopt more environmentally responsible policies.

It’s no secret that many major corporations struggle with environmental stewardship. Businesses like Ikea, Apple, Walmart, and Microsoft have all come under fire for policies that generate excessive carbon emissions or exploit vulnerable ecosystems.

Circular economic practices can help these businesses – and businesses of all sizes – adopt greener, more sustainable practices.

These Businesses Are Already Using Technology to Create a Circular Economy

While ideas about the circular economy continue to develop, some businesses have already begun experimenting with advanced technology as a building block for the circular economy.

One major adoptee of the circular approach to manufacturing is Cisco, a multinational technology company best known for its networking and cybersecurity solutions.

Katie Schindall, leader for the circular economy at Cisco, recently spoke with the magazine Tech Monitor about how the company is using technology to develop its own circular economy. According to Schindall, the right systems can have a significant impact.

“Optimising manufacturing processes for maximum reuse and tracing the embedded emissions in components and materials are both information problems that data and automation can help to address.”

Cisco isn’t the only company using modern industrial technology to develop its circular economy.

Ikea, for example, has recently rolled out a new buyback program for used furniture – which could help offset some of the environmental impacts of manufacturing new furniture.

Many footwear brands, including Puma and Adidas, are beginning to experiment with shoes made from fully recycled polyester. Fashion company H&M is exploring both fully recycled clothing materials and the use of recycled food waste in manufacturing clothing.

New Technology May Help Drive the Circular Economy

Sustainability is likely to become even more important in the future – and younger consumers, in particular, want to shop with sustainable brands.

Because manufacturing new goods is typically a carbon-intensive process, businesses can make themselves much more sustainable by building a circular economy.

Almost any practice that keeps goods in the economy can help. Recycled materials, buyback programs, and even initiatives that encourage preventive maintenance can all help businesses reduce their carbon footprint and create new economic opportunities.

The post Leveraging Technology for Developing the Circular Economy appeared first on Internet of Business.