With digital manufacturing, manufacturers will build a factory that is connected, networked and fully automated, allowing them to use real-time data analytics to optimize the entire manufacturing process and achieve productivity gains of 10 to more than 1,000 percent.

Fremont, CA: In short, digital manufacturing is when an organization leverages digital technology to support its manufacturing operations. With digital manufacturing, manufacturers will build a factory that is connected, networked and fully automated, allowing them to use real-time data analytics to optimize the entire manufacturing process and achieve productivity gains of 10 to more than 1,000 percent. Those extra zeros are not typos.

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Problems and People First

At the end of the day, people will be critical to driving your Industry 4.0 progress.

Before implementing any digital manufacturing technology, manufacturers should recognize the business issue that they are trying to solve, such as more efficient production or quicker time on the market. Then set observable, incremental objectives for ROI. Some early adopters purchased digital factory technology with just a vague understanding of what they wanted to do, and then blew up.

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People will be the next goal. A powerful, innovative leader who understands digital manufacturing will keep digital manufacturing projects moving forward. Above that leader, the board also needs to be engaged and informed about the benefits. Below the boss, listening to frontline employees on their job duties, bottlenecks and priorities will make a difference between technology that increases the bottom line or sits in a corner.

Digital Manufacturing Use Cases:

• Predictive maintenance to prevent costly failures.

• Performance sensing and detection of visual analytics equipment and products for tracking and testing in real-time.

• Optimizing work stations for the benefit of the entire production line.

• Smart conveyance for automating moving material, maintaining consistent material movement and minimizing backups.