[Germany, October 20, 2020] Digital solutions can make ‘smart manufacturing’ a reality, combining lean production methods with a seamless flow of data and insight, attendees learned at the Huawei eco-Connect Europe smart manufacturing forum.
This virtual session brought together industry leaders from Huawei and its partners in the ICT world to discuss the opportunities Industry 4.0 provides and how to ensure those opportunities become available to the whole market. As well as overall themes relating to digitalization, the forum covered practical steps businesses can take to implement a digital manufacturing ecosystem, and examples of smart manufacturing in action.
Yun Chen, FAW Group Digital Director, outlined the transformation that has taken place at the well-known Chinese luxury vehicle brand, Hongqi.
Key enterprise operations have been digitalized, such as R&D using simulations and digital twins. In addition, data is collected at every stage and used to drive decision-making: R&D analytics aid the manufacturing process, and any issues in manufacturing are immediately captured and sent back to R&D.
Powering the business’s connectivity is a hybrid cloud model implemented by Huawei. As Hongqi’s back-end platforms become more powerful, the digital touchpoints for the customer become more lightweight – making for a flexible, needs-oriented experience. As a brand, Hongqi is now closely associated with the digital future.
“Digital technology drives wonderful travel,” said Yun Chen. “Digital manufacturing is a part of that. The idea is to ensure the business is always online, quickly analyzed and intelligently managed.”
Jinyuan Dong, Senior Industrial Automation Expert at Huawei, spoke directly to businesses who are considering a smart-manufacturing approach, but are unsure how to start or what direction they should follow.
He said there are there overall benefits to smart manufacturing: Better efficiency in the workshop, a shortened production period getting products to market quicker, and the ability to make better products that are adapted more quickly to new customer demands.
Huawei has been applying smart manufacturing principles since 2015. It follows a ‘3+1’ model: three flows and one cloud.
“The engineering data flow integrates manufacturing data with design data, bridging the gap between R&D and manufacturing,” said Jinyuan Dong. “The business information flow is about seamlessly sharing customer order information with manufacturing. When a massively customized order comes in, it automatically triggers the preparation of materials and schedules manufacturing time. The customer gets real-time visibility of their order status.
“The production technology flow is based on machine-to-machine connections across different levels. Key assets are connected to deliver production automation and intelligence. Finally, cloud-based MES embeds intelligence in process design and reduces power consumption for greener manufacturing.”
With Huawei’s established model and 360-degree support, businesses can start to tap into key technologies such as IoT, 5G and AI, and make automation, digitalization and intelligence a reality.
Thilo Stieber, SVP and Chief Digital Officer Manufacturing at ATOS, said that in the digital future, consumers will have more power and will personally drive decisions on what products and services are offered in the market. As a result, we move from a model of “mass production” to one of “mass personalization”.
Supporting this change is a fully integrated digital ecosystem, with businesses, customers, processes and machines all connected. With every asset aligned, we can tackle some of our biggest goals and challenges, such as the decarbonization of manufacturing.
ATOS is currently building a net-zero enablement platform to help make this a reality. “Smart processes are key,” said Mr Stieber. “Supply chains are also a big topic. Even the products themselves, and the way they are used, receive analysis now. And IT systems are important – you need to ensure your IT partner is providing services in the best, most efficient way.
“Bringing all this information together gives you a platform to measure efficiency and deliver the results to customers in the right format.”
A fully digital ecosystem needs to consider four things, said Mr Stieber. First, customers: services need to deliver value to the customer base. Second, flexibility: requirements change quickly and there is a never a ‘final’ version of any solution.
Third, mindset: manufacturers should reconsider old habits and move their technology, data and knowledge out of silos. Finally, vision and leadership: business leaders need to motivate their workforce, attract talent, and align every mind towards addressing the needs of the world.
Eberhard Wahl from TRUMPF Group added that open standards are essential to support universal developments in manufacturing. He told attendees that the technological ‘building blocks’ need to be made available to all customers, so they can combine and configure them according to their own needs.
“The standards have to be open and ensure interoperability,” he said. “They also need to have no restrictions when it comes to replacing elements, or adding technology from other suppliers. This will enable affordable solutions that fit to individual customers.”
Dr. Cesim Demir, CTO for the Manufacturing Industry at Huawei, explained that digitalization can start as a case-oriented solution, before progressing to a full business transformation. Customers need to identify their own digital use cases – the best way to do this is through analysis of ‘pain points’ such as bottlenecks in production or logistics. New technologies, such as 5G, Wi-Fi 6, IoT, AI, edge and/or cloud computing, can help solve these bottlenecks.
Huawei provides all the necessary technologies and platforms – including edge computing, connectivity solutions like 5G, Wi-Fi 6 and PON, as well as Cloud and AI – to enable digitalization. On top of this, Huawei is committed to supporting customers and accompanying them on their digital transformation journey.