Specifically Defining Big Data in Manufacturing

In the article What Is Big Data Analytics in Manufacturing?, the author defines Big Data in a manufacturing sense and also examines how big data has evolved in a manufacturing environment.  Interestingly, some of us think of Big Data as exactly as it sounds, a very large amount of data, say a petabyte of data as collected from sensors on an engine.  Big Data Analytics, in this mind frame, would then be the analyzation of this data using mathematical and statistical techniques.  But the author makes a key point – running reports on large data sets does not qualify as Big Data analytics in manufacturing.  If what I’ve just explained does not qualify as Big Data Analytics, then what does?

The article defines Big Data as follows, and I quote,

“Big Data Analytics in manufacturing is about using a common data model to combine structured business system data like inventory transactions and financial transactions with structured operational system data like alarms, process parameters, and quality events, with unstructured internal and external data like customer, supplier, Web, and machine data to uncover new insights through advanced analytical tools.”  This definition is certainly covers all the bases one could think of when it comes to understanding Big Data Analytics in manufacturing.

The transition of older technologies to a Big Data platform is happening right now.  One previous technology for collecting manufacturing data that is currently transforming to Big Data is enterprise manufacturing intelligence (EMI).  The author notes that two of the three ways this transition can happen for EMI is the ability to use structured and unstructured data as well as new analytical tools such as image, video, and geospatial data.

As big data usage in manufacturing continues to mature, it will become part of the IIoT Platform for delivering both legacy applications and Next-Gen systems.  Data will eventually be able to be taken from anywhere and delivered to anywhere while is usability will be simplified so that floor personal can use it.  In a connected, smart manufacturing environment, there is the possibility that any data collected can become useful to the process, personal, and ultimately, the bottom line.


Are most readers familiar with older technologies like EMI?

What do you think of the definition of Big Data as presented by the author?

Has anyone seen the industrial IoTs at work and if so, does this article portray a realistic picture of how manufacturing is changing?


3D Printing for the Non-Industrial Consumer?

The article “3D printing and the Future of Manufacturing” (http://www.industryweek.com/emerging-technologies/3d-printing-and-future-manufacturing-infographic) is an infographic that breaches the norm of 3D printing discussions. Instead of talking about how 3D printing could influence the industrial manufacturing industry, this article focuses another potential user; the non-industrial consumer. As stated in the article “Today, almost anyone can become a manufacturer or contribute to the manufacturing process.” “If applied correctly, that point might be the biggest business opportunity presented by the technology to date.” The article displays ten major characteristics of 3D printing, three of which will be discussed today.

  1. The range of materials is exploding: 3D printing is no longer limited to plastics or the recently added metals, but can now be incorporated with ceramics, concrete, food, and other biological substances, among others. This opens the 3D printing market to virtually every business today.
  2. New major players: As stated above, almost anyone can become a manufacturer or contribute to the manufacturing process. The possibilities are endless.
  3. The consumer possibilities are also endless: 3D printing enables customization at no additional costs, giving a sustainable solution to the “thirst” of personalization.

These three main points, along with many other aspects and benefits of 3D printing, create the perfect storm for 3D printing to flourish. As the technology grows and improves, the impact of 3D printing will only continue to grow.

3D Printing; The New Future

The article “Why 3D Printing Could be a Manufacturing and Logistics Game Changer” (http://www.manufacturing.net/blog/2013/10/why-3d-printing-could-be-manufacturing-and-logistics-game-changer) reviews the capabilities revolutionary characteristics of 3D printing. The article highlights five main benefits of 3D printing:

  1. Three-dimensional printing increases production speed while reducing costs: For any company it’s beneficial to either increase production speed or reduce costs, but to be able to do both would change the industry completely.
  2. Consumer demand will have more influence over production: The possibilities of customization with 3D printing could “re-establish how manufacturers respond to customer demand. Manufacturing could become more consumer-based and responsive to the current market and its needs”.
  3. Instead of outsourcing, we could return to “near-sourcing” and U.S. production: With lower costs, outsourcing labor could become unnecessary. In contrast, manufacturing facilities “would be located closer to the consumer, allowing for a more flexible and responsive manufacturing process, as well as greater quality control”.
  4. The need for global transportation is significantly decreased: As discussed in #3, with manufacturing sites located locally, global transportation would become unnecessary, which again would help reduce costs even more.
  5. Logistics companies could offer more comprehensive, start-to-finish services: “With 3D printing technology in-house, logistics companies could take on more of a fourth-party logistics (4PL) approach instead of a third-party logistics (3PL) approach.

Before 3D printing can have a drastic effect on the manufacturing industry, it will need to be scaled up for mass and mainstream use. But as summarized above, the possible benefits of 3D printing are staggering.

GE’s Big 3D Printing Investment

The article “GE Bets Big on 3D Printing with $39M Additive Manufacturing Hub” (http://www.environmentalleader.com/2016/04/08/ge-bets-big-on-3d-printing-with-39m-additive-manufacturing-hub/ reviews GE’s “new era of manufacturing” and the focus they are putting into additive manufacturing. Per the article, GE has opened a $39M hub for additive manufacturing near Pittsburgh. This new endeavor was undertaken with the initiative to “drive innovation and implementation of additive manufacturing across the company”.  GE hopes to use this new additive manufacturing hub for application across all of GE’s business lines. Per the article, GE states that the facility “reflects the company’s belief that the intersection of technology and manufacturing – hardware and software – will change the way products are developed and serviced.

Why the focus on 3D printing? “3D printing increases efficiency and reduces waste, making it a valuable tool in efforts to make manufacturing more sustainable.” GE has already begun its intentions to adopt 3D printing capabilities by announcing a project in November with the Department of Energy that will use 3D printed turbines in a process that could make desalinated seawater 20 percent less costly to produce. With GE being a major player in the manufacturing industry, it will be interesting to see their utilization of 3D printing and how it will affect the industry as a whole.

The Push for Smart Manufacturing

In the article “Five Trends Driving the Movement Toward Smart Manufacturing” (http://www.sdcexec.com/article/11669309/five-trends-driving-the-movement-toward-smart-manufacturing), the top five trends behind the surge of smart manufacturing, and their descriptions, are analyzed. The first of the five trends is “distributed manufacturing.” In the manufacturing industry today, many companies outsource their critical manufacturing process to third parties. This often creates instances of miscommunication, loss of products, or other manufacturing mishaps. With a centralized hub that smart manufacturing provides, verifying all processes being conducted would be effortless and communication problems would be avoided. Smart Manufacturing also instills the ability to do virtual manufacturing, in which “demand fluctuations in Asia can trigger demand signals to devices and parties all the way up to n-tier suppliers.” The third trend analyzed is a “thirst for data and visibility. Essentially, this entails the ability to monitor and track product progress and location in real time. “Managing by Exception” is the fourth trend proposed in this article, and is characterized by the ability to automate process, flag issues, and escalate as necessary. While human interaction will still be needed to solve many of these problems, finding and monitoring progress of these mishaps can be done quickly and more effectively. Lastly, 3D printing is the fifth trend proposed. 3D printing effectively gives the manufacturer the ability to create custom products at a faster and more efficient pace.

Why Smart Manufacturing?

In the article “What is Smart Manufacturing” (http://www.cmtc.com/blog/what-is-smart-manufacturing-part-1a-of-6), the author provides a great overview of smart manufacturing and the benefits of utilizing this new technology. The Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition, or SMLC, defines smart manufacturing as “the ability to solve existing and future problems via an open infrastructure that allows solutions to be implemented at the speed of business while creating advantaged value.” In more simple terms, smart manufacturing is using real time technology and data to complete a predetermined task. With this connection between the physical and virtual worlds, the manufacturing industry is open to an infinite number of potential positive changes. For example, the industry can be optimized to create “higher quality products, improve productivity, increase energy efficiency, and sustain safer plant floors.” The article also stipulates that smart factories will boost employment 2-4 times, with jobs becoming available in both the “direct manufacturing and non-manufacturing positions.” What are the benefits for the manufacturer? Smart Manufacturing gives manufacturers the ability to improve their “performance, products, and design,” and also “offers the ability to collaborate with suppliers, both upstream and downstream, more effectively.”

3D Printing and the IoT

Have you ever thought about the immense amount of potential uses of 3D printing? In the article, “Smart Sensory Prosthetic Links Wearers to the IoT with 3D Printing”(http://3dprintingindustry.com/2015/09/17/smart-sensory-prosthetic-links-wearers-to-the-iot/), the potential of 3D printing is stretched with new use in the prosthetic limb industry. The article is focused on Troy Baverstock, a 3D printing enthusiast and a student at Australia’s Griffith University. Baverstock has used his expertise in 3D printing to develop limbU, a “3D printed add-on for prosthetic legs that is equipped with various sensors to help prosthetic users keep track of their internal and external worlds”. LimbU differs from its various competitors in that it connects to a smartphone via Bluetooth to track the intensity, speed, number of steps, as well as monitors altitude, direction, and GPS coordinates. The data collected by the limbU also assists doctors to monitor rehabilitation efforts on a daily basis. Additionally, the covers of the limbU come in various colors and designs. What other ways can 3D printing have an effect within the medical market? How else can 3D printing and the IoT partner to provide a better customer experience?