The Record - Issue 14: Autumn 2019

108 www. t e c h n o l o g y r e c o r d . c om F E ATUR E Shaping manufacturing 4.0 Manufacturing is leading the way in the successful adoption of new technologies to break traditional business paradigms BY J ACQU I GR I F F I THS T urning words into action is always a challenge: new technol- ogies might inspire great visions of what a digitally connected organisa- tion can achieve, but how do you turn your vision into a reality? For manufacturing firms, many of the answers can be found in real-life examples of digital transformation in action. This industry is leading the way in the successful adoption of new technologies to transform not only the factory floor, but the entire connected manufacturing ecosys- tem. Industry 4.0 is being shaped by organisations that are using analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), cloud, edge and aug- mented reality technologies to connect employees, processes, machines, data and customers. This combination of people and tech- nology is proving immensely powerful in shaping manufacturing 4.0, ena- bling smarter operation, continuous innovation and customised, val- ue-adding experiences. The examples on these pages show just a few of the ways that manufacturers around the world are adopting the latest Microsoft technologies to empower their people and transform their business. Reaching new heights It took Airbus 40 years to build its first 10,000 aircraft, but it aims to build 20,000 more over the next 20 years. Airbus has been exploring mixed reality for several years and started working with Microsoft on solutions four years ago. Microsoft’s mixed reality technology, such as the advanced capabilities of its HoloLens 2 headset, will be key to helping the company reach its goal. Mixed reality allows aerospace trainees to learn in an immersive virtual environment without the need for an actual physical aircraft or parts. This 3D environment can offer features that real-life training cannot, such as the ability to view elements from any angle. The technology can also help workers on the production line access crucial information while keeping their hands free. Digital information, such as instructions or diagrams, can be overlaid on a real piece of machinery to aid in complex or hard-to-reach tasks. These kinds of mixed-reality solutions have allowed Airbus to cut manufacturing time by a third while improving quality. Airbus’s collaboration with Microsoft goes beyond helping it reach its internal goals. The company has built off-the-shelf solutions for its customers, which it will be selling in partnership with Microsoft on HoloLens 2. Photo: A. Doumenjou/master films