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Last Updated : May 29, 2018 06:23 PM IST | Source:

Here are four trends transforming the manufacturing industry

Thanks to dramatic advances like automation, robotics and IoT, IT and manufacturing are now inextricably linked, the progress manufacturers have made in the past year is tremendous

Moneycontrol Contributor @moneycontrolcom

Jean-Philippe Courtois 

With each passing century, the face of manufacturing has seismically changed. From steam powered textile factories, to mass production and now AI, manufacturers are embracing and pioneering new technologies.

Thanks to dramatic advances like automation, robotics and IoT, IT and manufacturing are now inextricably linked, the progress manufacturers have made in the past year is tremendous. Some of the key trends we are expecting to see this year– all are powered by the intelligent cloud.

Increased Monetisation

According to IDC, manufacturing companies that take advantage of their data have the potential to generate nearly $400 billion more in revenue than their peers who are not data-driven. Technology has opened the doors to digital revenue streams, enabling them to create new business models and services that didn’t exist five years ago.

These additional ‘services’ have allowed them to establish digital SWOT teams that identify Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Businesses are also better positioned to open new plants and monetize new services, such as predicative maintenance, 3D modelling, and smart operations.

A great example of this is Tetra Pak. Sensors on more than 5,000 Tetra

Pak filling machines at customers’ sites, feed real-time performance data \ to the company for monitoring and analysis – nearly 700 million data points each year. As a result, maintenance can be scheduled precisely and efficiently.


Artificial intelligence is everywhere: in our networks, our data centres, our devices and in every application enabling collaboration between people and machines.

In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, 75 percent of organizations believe that their future success will depend on collaboration

between human and machine intelligence.

Traditional robotics manufacturers are creating new and evolved ‘lean’ processes, which will help service technicians to optimize tasks, lowering waste and inefficiencies, while providing better service to customers.

For example, forklift truck manufacturer Toyota Materials Handling Europe is evolving its traditional lean processes as part of its 10-year plan to create a visionary factory of the future. Its goal is to find more efficient ways to distribute intelligent logic across the factory and its robotic systems. Using AI and mixed reality it can train pallet drones to recognize patterns, automate processes and learn the flow in a manufacturing factory floor.


Over the past three plus years the industry has been abuzz with discussion about digital twins which is the ability to physically or digitally manipulate a piece of machinery or equipment using mixed reality technology and 3D imagery.

New data-driven manufacturing capabilities are lowering costs and reducing waste, and also keeping people safer and mitigating our impact on the planet.

Thanks to the explosive expansion of the IoT, digital twins have become cost-effective to implement, enabling companies to head off problems before they even occur, prevent downtime, develop new opportunities and even plan for the future using simulations. The future of digital twins will be about sending commands to machines in response to those forecasts.


Manufacturers today not only create products, but also help address some of society’s greatest challenges, including making food safer to eat and making our planet more sustainable. Bühler, a Swiss leader in food processing manufacturing systems, has developed a revolutionary data-driven optical sorting system that can significantly improve food cleaning practices.

We also believe technology advances can help us better understand and address the environmental issues facing our planet. The manufacturing customers have already moved to a state of fast adoption and scale. These companies are a dynamic part of our globalised economy that already represent 17% of global GDP.

It’s truly humbling to see what these visionary manufacturers can achieve, not just for their own organisations but to have a positive impact on their communities and wider society.

We are always looking for extraordinary examples of digital transformation in manufacturing and believe that we are on the cusp of a big evolution in the world of manufacturing.

(The writer is EVP and President, Microsoft Global Sales, Marketing & Operations at Microsoft)

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First Published on May 29, 2018 06:23 pm
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