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Apr 01 2019

Everybody’s talking about digital manufacturing. But what does it really mean?

Most people in manufacturing today tend to have a rough idea of what concepts like Industry 4.0 and digital manufacturing mean. But rough ideas can be hard to implement. At Nokia, we’ve simplified the concept of digital manufacturing down to a set of key attributes that paves the way to practical deployment.

We see digital manufacturing as the combination of four essentials: business intelligence, automation and analytics, and virtualization — all delivered over a secure and reliable high-performance network.

Some companies today may already have one or two of these in place — automation or data analytics, for example — but it’s the combination of the four that delivers the full benefits of digital manufacturing and Industry 4.0. It’s not about any one application, model or technology: it’s about bringing together complementary capabilities to become more flexible, enable new ways of working, and generate new revenues.

More than the sum of their parts

Each element adds something unique to the mix:

  • Business Intelligence enables predictive decision making, helps maintain quality and improves situational awareness for devices and processes — from an individual machine to a production line to the whole factory and beyond. It allows manufacturers to quickly adapt to changing customer demands, improve productivity and safety and drive higher revenues.
  • Automation goes hand-in-hand with intelligence — through industrial IoT and using deep analytics from the data collected from sensors, devices and machines to provide “intelligent agility.” This streamlines operations with “zero touch” capabilities, optimizes and increases the efficiency and safety of complex systems and processes.
  • Virtualization makes process innovation much more affordable and achievable — for example, by allowing companies to leverage digital twins to pre-test and prove new assemblies and feature enhancements. This enables rapid, lightweight creation of prototypes and agile adjustments to manufacturing operations before going into online production. The result is time savings and faster implementation of innovations for maximum competitive advantage.
  • A secure, reliable, high-performance network provides the sheer capacity needed in today’s digital manufacturing environments. Reliable wireless is a key component, enabling fast, flexible adaptations of factory operations to meet new business demands and delivering dedicated, universal broadband connectivity. Beyond supporting every kind of communication and information exchange, the fact that the network is dedicated means it can provide data privacy and security for business-critical operations.

All together, these digitalization essentials — plus leading cybersecurity protections — define the platform for better-controlled, efficient, optimized operations that can bring the increased productivity, maximized margins and unprecedented agility promised by Industry 4.0.

Putting private wireless networks to work at BMW

Wireless networks, public and private, each play a critical role in providing the connectivity required through the entire lifecycle. The innovation work happening today between BMW, China Unicom and Nokia is a great example of where automotive manufacturing is headed.  BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd. is using high performance private-LTE mobile network technology to bring the low latency requirements needed for their business critical applications such as object tracking, video surveillance and analytics. 

Enabling digital manufacturing with the Future X industries

Our Nokia Bell Labs Future X industries for manufacturing provides all four prerequisites for true digitalization. Leveraging key Nokia technology enablers including Industrial IoT, edge and cloud computing, artificial and augmented intelligence, machine learning, robotics, 4G/LTE, 5G and more, Future X brings the intelligence, automation, virtualization and secure, high-performance networking manufacturers need to realize the promise of Industry 4.0.

Nokia will be at Hannover Messe in Hall 6, Stand H10.  Come visit us and we can show you how to transform and make your digital manufacturing future a reality.

Share your thoughts on this topic by joining the Twitter discussion with @nokiaindustries using #HM19 #Industry40 #NokiaforIndustries #GoAllwhere #IIoT #digitaltransformation

About Manish Gulyani

Manish is VP Global Enterprise Marketing at Nokia. He was raised in India, educated in Ireland, and now lives in Canada’s capital city, Ottawa. Manish happily devotes himself to family, kayaking & running, and the never-ending business of getting people, places and things connected.