Manufacturing in the age of Cognitive & IoT

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Manufacturing boomed for the first time in what is known as the Industrial age. The advent of the steam engine, alongwith cheap access to labour, capital and natural resources in Great Britain in the 1800s fueled that era. This was the first time several manual tasks were mechanized and goods were mass produced. Mankind has continued the pursuit of improvisation in this process, with continually improved systems to monitor quality, process adherence and speed of production. The advent of computers in the 20thcentury fueled the next big shift in Manufacturing and the seeding of information technology into this industry hasn’t looked back since then. Cognitive systems and IoT are among the latest technologies to embed themselves firmly into manufacturing and are once again turning the industry on its head!

Industry 4.0 – the digitization of manufacturing

Today’s manufacturing era is termed Industry 4.0, characterized by the digitization of manufacturing with cyber-physical systemsincluded in the process. Cyber-physical systems like IoT Sensors, Big Data Analytics, superior predictive and prescriptive analytics and cognitive computing are driving large strides in operational efficiencies.

The Internet of Things (IoT) in Manufacturing

With sensors embedded in most machines and machine processes, factories are being increasingly instrumented and interconnected. IoT brings the ability to capture valuable data fromf all the “things” in our factories. From monitoring and assuring the quality of produced goods, to the condition of assets and equipment, IoT provides live, real-time data from the manufacturing environment to our fingertips.

This data however, needs to find itself a place to be stored and processed. Big Data analytics has made massive advances in helping factories make sense of all this data at a fast pace, enough to almost instantaneously identify patterns, model behaviors of equipment and predict failures before they happen!

Cognitive in Manufacturing

Computer systems that can process all this massive influx of data and make decisions for us are now available and continue to evolve. Systems that are a part of intelligent equipment and assets, can source data from the embedded sensors, and process the information to self-administer next steps based on history and thus reduce downtime.

Other systems not on the manufacturing line can monitor the very processes and operations, constantly fine tuning and optimizing resource utilization, workflows and production quality while still allowing the company’s workforce to benefit from the insights gained.

Manufacturing for the individual

Organizations can now aspire to achieve what was thought impossible at the advent of the manufacturing age. Individual customization was long sacrificed for mass production and Henry Ford is famous today for saying that he was willing to provide any colour (of his car), as long as it was black! Cognitive manufacturing can easily combine market demand data with the production side of the operation and deliver personal customizations to the individual, all the while maintaining production quality and health of equipment. It is indeed an age of smarter machines that we are just ushering in!


To an individual, the effects of IoT go beyond purchase decisions and customization. What was once a buzz word, is now making inroads into our homes and offices.

>> IBM IoT utilizes the power of analytics and cognitive to help improve process and product quality, automate inspections, optimize maintenance schedules and resources. Learn how.

>> To read about connected ecosystems and platforms of tomorrow, read the blog “The True Potential of IoT!”.

Product Marketing Leader - Industry & Services - IBM India/South Asia

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