Applying machine learning to the manufacturing world

The self-driving car by Google, online recommendations from Amazon and Netflix, fraud detection, and knowing what your customers are saying about your brand. These are some of the known examples of machine learning applications. 

Similarly, by aligning core technologies of machine learning with the complex problems manufacturers face, manufacturers can gain predictive insights into their production workflow, become more competitive, identify profitable opportunities, and start to avoid previously unknown risks.

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Have you incorporated servitization yet?

In the manufacturing sector, customer service is becoming an important driver for delivering improved customer experience and gaining customer loyalty. Manufacturing organizations have started to recognize the value of customer service as a business tactic for growth, and are now focused on providing a complete solution leveraging services. 

With the amount of rich digital content present across different channels, the chance to connect any time of the day and from anywhere, and proactive services made available for the life cycle of a product, there has been a shift in customer expectations. They are now looking for a business-to-customer (B2C) kind of experience in comparison to the previous traditional business-to-business experience.

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A cupola furnace supervisor’s experience with THORS

aband-foundry-oakland-california_image.jpgWe spoke with Enrique Ramirez from AB&I Foundry in Oakland, California to learn more about his experience using THORS. Ramirez was recently appointed Cupola Furnace Supervisor at this foundry that manufactures pipe fittings and custom castings. Read on to learn how he got the manufacturing knowledge he needed to excel at his new position. 

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Green technologies are driving the manufacturing industry

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the industrial sector accounted for 21% of all greenhouse gas emissions in 2013, which is right behind electricity production and transportation as some of the leading causes of emissions. Since 22% of U.S. GDP relies on good and services produced in water-scarce areas, increasing the cost of water and energy has become a concern of manufacturers. If this continues to be the trend, up to 45% of U.S. GDP will rely on production from these areas by the year 2050. Moreover, customers today are more aware of environmentally responsible practices, and expect that organizations will use them. As a crucial driver of competitiveness and economic growth, manufacturing is one of the primary industries being targeted for green technology use. This means traditional manufacturing methods are giving way to the use of lean, green, conserving machines that benefit the planet.

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Mobile learning is the key to blended training

Mobile learning, or mLearning, includes all the benefits of traditional eLearning, while also utilizing a blended learning approach. In blended learning, the student get to learn, at least in part, with content and instruction delivered via digital and online media with some element of control over time, place, path, or pace for learning. As mobile phones already give their users control over the time, place, and pace at which information is received, a blended learning approach works perfectly well with mobile devices. The result is an enhanced learning experience.

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Adding a new dimension to 3D printing

Additive manufacturing—or 3D printing—is 30 years old now. Today, it has found applications not just in industry but also in households because of how affordable it has become. As anything can be printed, 3D printing opened up unlimited opportunities for different manufacturing sectors, including apparel, medical, automotive, aviation, and even defense.

Despite these advances, there is a lot more that can be done with 3D printed materials to make them more flexible and useful. “4D printing”, as it’s commonly known, offers this flexibility and utility. 4D printing refers to 3D-printed objects that have an added dimension of “time”. Upon exposure to certain stimuli, these objects or materials transform and change shape over time.

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Augmented reality in manufacturing education

Augmented reality (AR) is the fine line where virtual and real meet. According to Wikipedia, AR is a live, direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics, or GPS data. In the manufacturing industry, augmented reality superimposes virtual reality over real objects, providing all the necessary data an engineer needs to make an analysis to perform a task.

All this might look like something out of a science-fictional movie, but it has already found its way into the manufacturing industry. Instead of trying to guess what is wrong with a particular part, now manufacturers can make the part show why it is not working correctly. And this has been made possible by using the Internet of Things (IoT) and augmented reality. In addition to being able to manufacture products more efficiently, augmented reality can help reduce training time by providing real time access to digital, virtual, and augmented scenarios.

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Increasing workforce productivity in manufacturing

According to a 2015 Gallup survey, only 32 percent of employees in the United States were engaged in their work, while another 17.2 percent were actively disengaged. Employee productivity is a big concern for manufacturing employers. Lower productivity is bound to affect businesses’ bottom line. Still, low productivity cannot be blamed on the employees alone. The workforce on shop floors, who perform repetitive tasks daily, every day, year after year, can become unmotivated. After all, it is human nature to get dulled down by monotony. 

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4 reasons why you should care about manufacturing

For decades, the manufacturing industry has been perceived as dirty, dangerous, back breaking, and low paying work. This has kept people from actively pursuing a career in manufacturing. However, manufacturing has undergone a lot of change since then. The fourth industrial revolution has brought in new innovations and technologies which has forever changed the manufacturing industry for the better. Modern manufacturing is now organized, autonomous, and more important than ever.

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You can fix the knowledge gap at your organization

In the Deloitte 2014 Human Capital Trends Study of corporate talent and HR needs, twelve challenges were found. The biggest one, “the overwhelmed employee”, is the employee dealing with not only a lot of information in the form of text messages, tweets, emails, meetings, and conference calls every day, but is working more hours than they would like to.

In another study by IDC, 44 percent of employees are not able to get the answers they are looking for and, if they do manage to find what they need, 61 percent of employees say they have to access four or more systems to do it. Such is the extent of information they are dealing with every day.

If the workforce is not able to find the right information, it is impossible for them to make proper decisions on the job. This is bound to result in inadequate customer service, missed sales opportunities, and poor employee performance in general. And the company will end up losing a lot of money as a result.

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