Manufacturing Leaders’ Summit: Connected Manufacturing – shop floor to top floor

Posted on 22 Nov 2018 by Jonny Williamson

Digitalisation is no longer just a concept, it is now a core concept of any successful manufacturer’s business strategy. Whether you are looking for differentiation or to fend off disruptive challengers, you need an integrated vision of your Digital Transformation.

Derek Thompson, vice president for EMEA for Dell Boomi, took to the mainstage to share some practical techniques to support your connected manufacturing journey.

Thompson began his presentation by sharing some facts and figures which demonstrated the incredible pace of change and the challenges businesses face:

  • Disruption – By 2018, 33% of all industry leaders will be disrupted by digitally-enabled competitors (IDC)
  • IT/OT Convergence – 48% of manufacturers say lack of collaboration across departments is a top operational challenge
  • Aging Workforce – 83% say a lack of skilled workers hurts business, 7% of skilled ‘baby boomers’ will retire by 2030 (NIST)
  • Priority of Partnerships – 90% of manufacturers say partnerships form the future of innovation (The Manufacturer)
  • Speed of Change – 74% of manufacturers are trying to become responsive to demand (The Manufacturer)
  • New Technologies – 80% of manufacturers agree 3D printing is reducing New Product Development lifecycles (The Manufacturer)
  • Global Perspectives – 50% of manufacturers are trying to achieve a globally integrated supply chain (The Manufacturer)

“There are several ways that digital technologies are transforming manufacturing workstreams,” noted Thompson. “A Connected Workforce is more agile, mobile, transparent and flexible; process automation drives speed and efficiency across an organisation, and data and artificial intelligence are driving predictive analytics and business optimisation.

“Infrastructure modernisation, such as embracing cloud or hybrid cloud platforms, drive cost efficiencies and further increases speed, and creating a seamlessly secure environment provides ease of use for users and confidence for the business.”

Turning the promise of IoT into reality

The Internet of Things is already helping businesses to reduce unplanned downtime, increase equipment availability and overall agility, improve product quality and defect traceability, optimise decision-making, provide real-time data to operators, and increase worker safety.

“To gain the greatest benefit from the IoT, manufacturers need to collect asset data from multiple sources, systems and locations, apply statistical models and algorithms, attain insights through detailed analytical calculations which in turn recommend corrective actions.

“In short, manufacturers need to start thinking and acting like a software company,” Thompson noted.

Manufacturing Leaders’ Summit: Connected Manufacturing – shop floor to top floor

Addressing the global food crisis

Derek Thompson welcomed to the stage David Rosenberg, co-founder and CEO of AeroFarms – a clean-technology company that builds and operates advanced vertical farms in urban environments.

The business was established to transform agriculture by building and operating responsible farms throughout the world to enable local production at scale and provide safe, nutritious food.

AeroFarms’ patented, award-winning ‘aeroponic’ technology provides the perfect conditions for healthy plants to grow, taking the concept of vertical farming to new levels of provision and productivity with minimum environmental impact.

Since 2004, Rosenberg and his team have been disrupting traditional supply chains by building farms on major distribution routes and near population centres. According to the CEO, AeroFarms “sets a new standard for traceability” by effectively managing its produce from seed to package. All while reportedly using 95% less water than traditional field farmed-food and with yields almost 400-times higher per square foot annually.

AeroFarms has partnered with Dell EMC to harvest insights from ‘the edge to the distributed core to the cloud’. The business leveraged Dell EMC’s IoT Vision Workshop to define its objectives, identify use cases and determine the best technologies to implement.

It is also using Dell IoT Edge Gateways and Dell Rugged Workstations and Tablets to collect sensor data in order to deliver more in less time, alongside PowerEdge for Deep Learning to automatically adjust lights, nutrients, humidity and other environmental factors.

AeroFarms grows produce without sun or soil in a fully-controlled indoor environment - image courtesy of AeroFarms.
AeroFarms grows produce without sun or soil in a fully-controlled indoor environment – image courtesy of AeroFarms.

Manufacturing Leaders’ Summit has been bringing together senior industry executives for more than a decade, and is the biggest manufacturer-to-manufacturer conference in the country.

It is the ‘jewel in the crown’ of Digital Manufacturing Week, an annual celebration of UK manufacturing excellence that takes place every November in Liverpool. This year saw 887 delegates attend Manufacturing Leaders’ Summit (up 45% on 2017) and 5,322 visitors to Digital Manufacturing Week (up 36% on 2017).

Clear your diary and join us next year: 13-14 Nov 2019!