The Record Issue 13: Summer 2019

114 www. t e c h n o l o g y r e c o r d . c om BY J ACQU I GR I F F I THS Transformation is rippling through the manufacturing industry as companies look to advanced cloud and digital communication technologies to empower their business the factory of the Building F E ATUR E A palpable sense of excitement can be felt across the manufacturing industry as the application of advanced technologies creates the factory of the future. “Manufacturing – and the technology that makes it more intel- ligent – is shaping our future in exciting ways,” says Colin Masson, global industry director, manufacturing solutions at Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise. “Manufacturers are embracing new technologies to address core challenges for business differentiation and profitability and to address sustainability, workforce and cybersecu- rity challenges with innovative and responsible manufacturing practices.” The factory of the future combines technologies including analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), sensors, cloud, edge and augmented reality. “These technologies are coming together to drive creative disruption and expansion of traditional business models,” says Muthuraman ‘Ram’ Ramasamy, industry director, Automation and IIoT at busi- ness consultant Frost & Sullivan. “Huge volumes of data are being tracked through the factory like invisible threads which need to be captured and converted into actions, insights and outcomes. An agile factory of the future environment is becoming essential, because the explosion of data and reduced time to action is such that it’s literally impossible for human beings to make sense of it.” The question facing manufacturers is not whether to embrace the factory of the future, but how – and leading technology companies are helping to answer it. For example, Microsoft and BMW Group’s Open Manufacturing Platform provides a technology framework and open community for sharing smart factory solutions across the automotive and manufacturing sectors. Its aim is to significantly accelerate future indus- trial internet of things (IIoT) developments. And Siemens’ MindSphere open IoT operating system connects products, plants, systems and machines with the Microsoft Azure cloud platform so man- ufacturers can securely and easily connect any IIoT device and leverage interoperable cloud ser- vices to create powerful, scalable IIoT systems. One challenge is that, with significant technol- ogy investments already in place, not all manu- facturers can simply leap to the cloud to achieve Industry 4.0. “Companies can’t simply rip and replace their technology,” says Ramasamy. “They look to get the maximum leverage from those investments. But 70% of their data is generated the future today