Industrial and agriculture machinery manufacturer Vermeer has teamed with researchers at Iowa State University on a project to develop methods for reducing wear and tear on heavy machinery. In the first phase of the project, the team developed a method of detecting and correcting rotor imbalance in machinery and in phase two researchers will extend the research to other aspects of machinery malfunctions.
3M last year became more collaborative with external partners such as Ford and Cummins, and the company also rethought research and development for a distributed working environment, says Chief Technology Officer John Banovetz. "As a scientist, I've said 'I don't know' and 'I think' more than ever," he says.
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Michael Grieves, the originator of the digital twin concept, believes the technology is headed toward a future marriage with artificial intelligence. AI can enhance digital twins by sifting through large quantities of data to help engineers avoid silos and confirmation bias, Grieves says.
Nimbler front lines in factories that quickly highlight and address line stoppages and make it possible for workers to transition to previously unfamiliar tasks are among the benefits of digitally connected and instructed workforces, says Parsable CEO Lawrence Whittle. "The quicker you can get every worker visibly competent, irrespective of their tenure, or that skill, you just raise the competency of the business," he says.
Cybersecurity exercises "can provide verification that your defensive strategy is effective or highlight weaknesses that require immediate attention," writes Steve Durbin, CEO of the Information Security Forum. Durbin lists 10 benefits to be gained, including increased awareness of potential threats.
While noting that OT and IT come from different places with differing objectives, Emerson's Rich Carpenter explores how these systems are blending to tap the strengths of each, driven in part by the demand for insights from a common data set.
Smaller manufacturers can struggle to find enough resources to add robotics and hire the technicians needed, according to an MIT study. What's needed now is more flexible ways to introduce robotics, such as in a service form, and a workforce development strategy that matches skills learning with employer needs, writes FedEx robotics and automation specialist Aaron Prather.
Collaborative robots have become more mobile and flexible, allowing metal fabricators to maneuver them to press brakes and use them to form parts. In the future, finishing and other physically demanding tasks could be more capably performed by cobots, freeing up employees for other duties.
An effective asset maintenance strategy begins with assigning every piece of equipment a "criticality rating" based on how important it is to operations, writes Hank Kocevar. An effective management plan requires buy-in from the whole operation and should cover not only production equipment, but also systems like fire prevention and environmental controls.
IoTco CEO Mo Abuali writes that predictive analysis can help manufacturers achieve zero downtime and zero defects. He lays out six steps that begin with selecting machines and determining data parameters and end with issuing recommendations for decision-makers.
Appointing a chief digital officer and having a dedicated function for transformation efforts can smooth the path to Industry 4.0, according to this Deloitte analysis that reviews four different types of CDOs. "The digital function is the enabling force that drives strategy and owns execution of the road map to enable digital capabilities, with the overall objective of realizing the CDO's vision and goals," the authors write.
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