Series: upcoming challenges for smart manufacturing (4)

CELTIC-PLUS Chairman Jacques Magen on the importance of data collection, data security, data processing and enhanced human machine interfaces, and on the advantages of standardisation for SMEs.

Jacques Magen identified five areas that he sees as significant for the development of smart manufacturing. 

Vertical sector specific needs

Each vertical sector has specific manufacturing processes and therefore needs tailor made solutions. Specific platforms and gateways should be developed to collect data from different types of sensors with different sensitivity levels.

Security

Smart manufacturing operational data should be stored in the cloud to allow stakeholders to monitor the performance of every workspace. This also ensures a robust control over every manufacturing process for adapting productive measures using real-time information; smart factories need to be designed with security in mind. Today, a wealth of information on the internet has helped hackers to detect the weak spots and vulnerabilities of "smart businesses”. The transfer of data from factory equipment to the cloud server should be fully secured.

Standards

There are currently too many different proprietary solutions and custom integration methods. Manufacturers are using different vendors' solutions for different aspects of digital manufacturing (CAD, NC or CMM). Therefore, connectivity and standards are big challenges for smart manufacturing. Standardisation would lower the cost of entry for small and medium manufacturers to implement more digitalisation in their operations. A standards objective could be achieved through both collaborative projects and some alliance initiatives.

Intuitive and efficient human machine interfaces

The future smart manufacturing should benefit from enhanced human machine interfaces. Vocal and gestural commands and immersive experiences (such as augmented reality and virtual reality with real time information) would benefit from enhanced telecommunication services.

Closer to customer needs and better sustainability

Smart manufacturing will have to adapt more and more to customer needs in real time. Cloud platforms with feedback communication loops on customer usage and preferences and artificial intelligence and big data processing will allow better customisation of future products. ICT platforms and services should support sustainable production cycles in smart factories: like in smart cities, smart manufacturing should benefit from the control of energy consumption, smart micro-grids and smart transport.