Digital Reinvention

Digital Overhaul : Dawn of the age of digital manufacturing and operations

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Digital Overhaul

Dawn of the age of digital manufacturing and operations

While Internet of Things (IoT) provides a foundation for digital technologies to transform manufacturing, robotics and additive manufacturing are also rapidly changing the industry dynamics. Together these technologies are forcing a global value chain redesign as they change the nature of jobs in industries that supply, support and serve manufacturing.

IoT’s Role in Manufacturing Transformation

IoT represents an evolution in which objects are capable of interacting with other objects without human intervention. After the advent of IoT, there has been a shift from human monitoring and decision making in manufacturing to real-time predictive insights and automated decisions. IoT systems enable autonomous asset management via predictive maintenance, statistical evaluation and measurements. Intelligent IoT systems enable real-time optimisation of manufacturing production and supply chain networks through interconnectivity of machinery, sensors and control systems. In Supply Chain Logistics, IoT and cloud-based GPS solutions are enabling increased visibility of goods in transit.  In short, IoT is transforming the manufacturing enterprise both within and outside.

BigData, Analytics and Cloud

While IoT provides the data, it is BigData Analytics enabled through Cloud that is creating the value out of those vast data streams. Manufacturing Operational executives are already realising that collecting and analysing real-time data from all aspects of the value chain can be much more powerful than previous generation IT which involved only transactional, ad hoc data collection and analysis. Analytics allows inventory and production decisions to be made without human intervention. Analytics also help determine the root cause of recurring defects or repeatedly late deliveries.


The use of robotics in manufacturing are found across the value chain – from production to warehousing, distribution and the customer. Robotics helps companies reduce or eliminate defects, optimise productivity and localise supply chains in a cost-effective manner. Emerging Robotic technologies such as driverless trucks, ships and drones will transform the logistics value chains as well.

By decreasing human labour needs, Robotics enables assembly plants to be built anywhere including high costs countries like US and Europe triggering global supply chain re-organisation.

Additive manufacturing

Additive manufacturing includes all technologies such as 3D printing that generate three-dimensional physical objects from a digital model. Though it was used only for the rapid production of prototypes for form and fit testing, additive manufacturing applications are evolving towards the manufacture of final products.  New design advances and raw material availability make the economic production of near final components more realistic. Recent research conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value indicates that 3D printing is reinventing the design, production, transportation and consumption of products around the world, and is making local manufacturing a real option.

Global Impact of digital overhaul

By eliminating traditional jobs, advanced manufacturing technologies are rapidly transforming the global manufacturing landscape. While direct manufacturing jobs might be eliminated, the need for high-tech service, IT support, heavy analytics and higher-end equipment will generate a “ripple effect” that can create millions of jobs in other sectors. Soon Smart manufacturing hubs would be emerging, surrounded by layers of dynamic supplier networks, external support firms and outside service organisations. Manufacturing Ecosystem re-alignment will be creating waves of indirect jobs necessary to supply, support and serve them.

Industry leaders need to understand the pivotal role of manufacturing jobs in the society and play a constructive role in the coming re-alignment of global workforce in the era of digital manufacturing and operations.

IBM digital operations leverages cognitive computing to effect innovative supply chain transformations. Learn How 

>> To read about how Cognitive Computing and IOT can be combined together, read the blog “Manufacturing in the age of Cognitive & IoT”.



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