Joining the dots: how to connect digital manufacturing technologies

how to connect digital manufacturing technologies In a recent survey by McKinsey & Co, nearly 70% of business executives say that their Industry 4.0 initiatives are stuck at the pilot stage, unable to be rolled-out company-wide. Further, respondents say that only 15% of their Industry 4.0 initiatives are rolled-out within one year, with a quarter of these initiatives spending longer than two years in pilot mode.  

Some companies are struggling even to get a pilot in place, with another UK survey showing that almost three quarters of companies are relying still on disparate legacy systems and spreadsheets to manage their data.  Despite this, 86% of the 1,030 respondents claim to be data-informed and 76% trust data enough to complete tasks. The reality is, however, that they could be basing business-critical decisions on old, out-of-date information. 

Recognising this problem, Joakim Johansson, Head of CRIBWISE says, “Many companies have recently started to implement Industry 4.0 technologies or are certainly looking to do so in the near future. They might only just be starting their digitalization journeys, with easy-to-adopt systems, such as cloud-based tooling inventory management solutions. Or they might be diving-in headfirst by connecting and digitising the entirety of their shopfloors. It is likely, however, that the technologies these companies will select will also be disconnected from one another, which means that they will not be realising their full potential.” 

Suppliers of digital manufacturing technologies often develop their systems in isolation, meaning that they do not readily interact with one another. This leaves manufacturers with the challenge of devising ways in which the technologies can be integrated so that the data they gather can be captured and interrogated holistically. Such integration can be costly and time-consuming to carry-out. 

CRIBWISE is collaborating with its partners to address this problem. CRIBWISE is part of Sandvik Group, which has established the Lighthouse programme to help its customers connect their various siloed digital technologies, including those for metrology, robotics and digital tool management.  

Through the Lighthouse programme, Sandvik is developing an ecosystem of digital manufacturing technologies that can work in concert with one another. These technologies include tooling inventory-management software (CRIBWISE), machine-monitoring systems (Comara), CAD/CAM software (SigmaNEST, Cimatron and Mastercam), CAM software (GibbsCAM) and tool-management software (TDM).   

how to connect digital manufacturing technologies Two Lighthouse Factories have already been established. These aim to highlight pioneers that are showcasing best practices and ways of working using new technology and capabilities offered by its suppliers and partners. The first is Fårbo Mekaniska, a Swedish Low Mix High Volume (LMHV) manufacturer who is collaborating with Sandvik to introduce and enhance digital solutions that can improve efficiency in daily operations, to support ambitious growth targets. Fårbo started the initiative by utilizing CRIBWISE to improve inventory control and reduce time spent looking for tooling, seeing significant returns as a result. Over time, more partners have added their capabilities to collectively help Fårbo to manage its increasing growth.  

Mikael Vetterskog, CEO of Fårbo Mekaniska says, “Being a Lighthouse gives us great possibilities to reach more people and tell the story about what life in a mechanical workshop can be like.  We value the strong focus on finding ground-breaking and innovative solutions to the most challenging problems. We hope this can lead to more business with customers as well as attracting future employees.” 

The second Lighthouse Factory is BAM, a Germany-based contract manufacturer supporting several industries. Like Fårbo, BAM is looking to advance its connected manufacturing environment, with the aim to increase production possibilities, improve quality and shortening cycle times. Progress to date has included setting a common metric for its many varied machines and utilizing simulation software. BAM is also in the process of installing CRIBWISE for tooling inventory management.   

Joakim Johansson concludes: “I am proud that CRIBWISE is a part of this pioneering collaboration. The Lighthouse programme shows how companies can align and galvanise to reach common goals, solve interesting problems for industries and use their collective capabilities to break new ground.” 

Read more about the Lighthouse programme in this article from Sandvik: click here 

Further, you can also watch the latest recording of  CRIBWISE’s series of webinars, Connect your business IoT solutions to get the best from your Industry 4.0 initiatives. The webinar provides insight into the issue of disconnected digital technologies, helping manufacturing and engineering businesses to apply virtual solutions to their everyday business problems. Watch here