What is the manufacturing (r)evolution?

This year’s Hannover Messe event will see companies from around the world demonstrate how the manufacturing industry is adapting to the demands of customers. Colin Masson discusses the areas in which Microsoft’s business solution portfolio is making a critical difference

Guest
By Guest on 20 April 2016
What is the manufacturing (r)evolution?

This article first appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of OnWindows.

Hannover Messe has long been an eagerly anticipated annual occurrence on the global manufacturing calendar, and the 2016 event is no exception.

Attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, Hannover Messe features dedicated areas focusing on research and development, industrial automation, IT, industrial supply, production technologies and services to energy and mobility technologies. 

2016’s event seems to have a certain star quality to it. US President Barack Obama will speak at the opening ceremony on 24 April, and is set to tour the fair with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on 25 April. Microsoft’s technology and manufacturing stars will also be there, showcasing the customers and partners that are leading the digital transformation of manufacturing. 

Hannover Messe is about evolution, and the occasional revolution – it is after all the showcase event for Industry 4.0, or the 4th Industrial Revolution. There will no doubt be smarter robots, and further evolution of industrial automation at Hannover Messe 2016. 

The real revolution on show in 2016 will be around customer-obsessed manufacturers who are connecting the dots between ­well-informed and fickle digital consumers, and digital design and manufacturing capabilities. Today’s manufacturers are taking an ‘outside-in’ approach to digital business and using new systems of intelligence – powered by the internet of things (IoT), advanced analytics and the cloud – to connect marketing, sales, and service ­operations, with intelligent manufacturing and supply chain operations.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, described a new era of systems of intelligence and the digital transformation of manufacturing at Microsoft’s business solutions conference just over a year ago. Since then, a growing number of companies in the manufacturing industry have been reimagining their businesses, using data from the products they have made and shipped to their customers. Combined with customer relationship management (CRM) data such as customer complaints, new feature requests, service calls, and sentiments expressed by employees, partners and customers, these manufacturers are getting real insights into product usage and customer opinion. Not only does this provide a holistic view of the customer experience, but also enables manufacturers to innovate with new products and services that their customers will value. 

Remote monitoring of smart products is enabling new business opportunities in the context of predictive maintenance and proactive field service. IoT is also a path to connected product innovation – not just by connecting devices, but connecting research and development, engineering, manufacturing and supply chain operations with marketing, sales and service.

Hannover Messe 2016 provides an opportunity to discuss manufacturing challenges and their corresponding solutions with Microsoft leaders, and its customers and partners. It offers the opportunity to dig deep into IoT and machine learning technologies with Azure IoT Suite and Cortana Analytics Suite, or see the potential of augmented reality with Microsoft HoloLens. It’s also an opportunity to see end-to-end business solutions bringing these technologies together in a new generation of systems of intelligence, by Dynamics AX and CRM, and by Microsoft partners.

Colin Masson is global industry director for Manufacturing at Microsoft Business Solutions

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