Guest Author: Surya Kommareddy
As customers, we always desire for things to be more personal to us, better suited to our unique needs, and work exactly as we want. We already see lots of customizable products and services on the market today, and this trend is only getting stronger. Examples include Nike and Adidas letting you customize your shoes, Zazzle allowing you to place an order for customized apparel, and many leading car manufacturers offering a wide variety of features when purchasing a car. This hyper-personalized vision is happening more and more as technological innovations enable more flexible manufacturing, allowing companies to profitably provide customers with exactly what they want.
The clear trend today is customers demanding ever more product variations and rewarding those companies that provide personalized offerings. But customization at mass production levels is a huge challenge for manufacturers. Rigid production lines, inflexible manufacturing processes, and inability to tap into customer needs and dynamically manage production are some of the limiting factors to achieving these personalization demands.
Fortunately, the current Industry 4.0 era has brought us transformative technologies such as cheaper sensors, Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, machine learning, digital twins, augmented reality, and autonomous robots. These and other innovations (such as 3D printing) are enabling manufacturers to increasingly adapt to meet the mass customization demand. Aided by these advanced technologies, manufacturers are going through a digital transformation of their business, changing the way they operate, produce, and respond to ever-increasing customer demands.
Manufacturing firms have been adopting automation as a way to increase their productivity, maintain quality, and to deliver products at an ever-increasing rate. Boston Consulting Group (BCG) predicts that advanced robotics will grow from 2%-3% adoption to about 10% adoption in the next decade. BCG says, “Combining advanced robotics with other technologies, process enhancements, and structural layout changes can yield savings of up to 40%.”
The Industry 4.0 transformative technologies combined with advanced manufacturing automation is enabling manufacturers to greatly enhance their existing operations. The ability to realize fine-grained operational oversight, flexible manufacturing flows, rapid response systems, and direct connectivity of smart factories with its customers and suppliers is essential to realize hyper-personalized manufacturing.
With the advanced digital technologies available today, manufacturers can become more agile and responsive by tightly integrating their manufacturing operations into business systems for fine-grained operational oversight and control, dynamically reconfiguring production systems based on demand, and efficiently managing supply chains.
Collaborative and autonomous robots are key to achieving the flexible operations desired in personalized manufacturing. With more sensors embedded in machinery, tooling, and operator wearables, more data is now available for real-time monitoring and achieving AI-driven predictive insights to improve operations.
All these transformative technologies are enabling the versatile factories of the future and driving the trend toward hyper-personalized manufacturing.
In my next post, I'll share some demonstrations of hyper-personalized manufacturing and discuss the advanced technologies that make these demos possible. For more information about how Oracle is developing best-of-breed manufacturing solutions that leverage technologies like IoT and machine learning, go to oracle.com/industries/industrial-manufacturing.