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Small can be Smart(er) too: Steps for SMEs in Manufacturing to win in the Era of Industry 4.0
By Cheng Jang Thye, Chief Architect and Head, Digital Experience Center, Fujitsu Singapore
SMEs can harness the power of smart factories to increase manufacturing productivity, quality and innovation at a reduced cost
Putting Artificial Intelligence to work: The ultimate in Smart Factory would be to exploit human-like intelligence to improve factory operations. In today’s manufacturing environment, there are still stages in automation that require human intervention. This may be for quality inspection (using our eyes), traceability (using our trouble-shooting abilities), or resource optimization (using our judgement and experience in complex interactions). Recent advances in artificial intelligence research have demonstrated human-like ability in image recognition, pattern learning, and search optimization. The technology is now ready to provide supplementary assistance to human workers. For example, instead of having human inspectors doing visual scans of a product’s surface, we can use deep learning-based image recognition software to look for defects in the initial scan. Subsequently, we can then have a secondary scan by the human inspector to confirm the defect. This will result in faster and better quality inspections. SMEs can harness the power of Smart Factories to increase manufacturing productivity, quality and innovation at a reduced cost. The result is a highly optimized, lean manufacturing operation, where data can be acquired and analysed more quickly and effectively. As technology solution providers support companies, including SMEs, to become smart, connected and future-ready enterprises, Industry 4.0 will bring with it technology to address constraints and open up new opportunities for innovation, and truly integrate digital transformation for growth and success.