How is technology transforming manufacturing?

How is technology transforming manufacturing?
Microsoft’s Esat Dedezade explores how Azure, HoloLens and IoT are getting more from the industry

Elly Yates-Roberts |

In an article for Microsoft News Centre Europe, Esat Dedezade, managing editor, has outlined how technologies such as Microsoft Azure, HoloLens and the internet of things (IoT) are transforming the manufacturing industry. 

Many organisations are turning to mixed reality solutions such as HoloLens to train their staff on using and repairing machinery, such as King County’s Wastewater Treatment Division. It is faster than setting up physical learning opportunities, reduces costs and is safer for the trainees. 

Manufacturers are also using the technology in the field to speed up and improve the quality of repair and maintenance work as technicians can overlay instructions onto the physical world. 

Virtual technology is also improving the developmental stages of manufacturing in the form of digital twins. These virtual representations of physical systems enable manufacturers to test both new and existing designs and see how they would be react in the physical world. 

“There’s no better place for crashes to happen than in a digital twin,” said Åsa Svedenheim, chief digitalisation officer at Siemens. 

IoT is another technology not only improving manufacturing, but also the customer experience. Where previously the manufacturer’s job ended with the purchase of a product, with today’s IoT and connected devices the conversation continues.

IoT sensors in machinery constantly monitor its conditions and communicate with the manufacturer, detecting faults as they happen to enable predictive maintenance. This reduces downtime and costs for the operator and ultimately results in a happy customer. 

“Before, you’d ship a product, and that was that,” says Patrik Sjostedt, lead of EMEA Manufacturing at Microsoft. “Now, machines are constantly communicating back to the head office, giving an overview of their operations. This is a huge opportunity for customer intimacy.”

Siemens Gamesa is using IoT in the same way to ensure the efficiency of its wind turbines. In combination with Microsoft Azure and drone technology the firm is ensuring the quality of the huge machines as well their constant maintenance.  

“The companies that manage to foster the right culture around these new technologies will be the ones with a competitive advantage, improving their existing business models, creating new opportunities, while attracting and retaining new talent,” said Dedezade. “This is truly a future that’s well worth manufacturing.”

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