Active Intelligence Is Key To The Future Of Manufacturing

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In 2020, the APAC region accounted for 43 percent of the global general manufactured goods market. With a strong focus and huge investment in the region, production systems and operations need to evolve and innovate to improve speed and productivity to meet this rising demand.

As such, how can we ensure that the manufacturing industry in the APAC region remains globally competitive and well-positioned to capture greater opportunities?

By Jeremy Sim, Senior Director, Retail, Manufacturing & High Tech, Qlik
Jeremy Sim. Photo Credit Qlik
Jeremy Sim. Photo Credit Qlik

Over the past few months, businesses across Asia Pacific (APAC) have accelerated their investment in new technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and analytics, with spending projected to increase by 9 percent in 2021 to reach US$1.3 trillion, according to IDC. The return on investment is clear: the report revealed successful outcomes with customer satisfaction, employee productivity, operational efficiency, and innovation following these digital investments. In another study by Cognizant, 71 percent of senior executives in APAC agreed that AI is an essential ingredient in business success across industries.

It is great that more leaders are aware on how digital investments can lead to optimal data-harnessing, which delivers greater business value. However, the question remains on whether they are tapping into the right technological framework and whether all sectors, like manufacturing, have the appropriate infrastructure to support the great digital transformation.

The switch to responsible production

Conserving natural resources has emerged as a non-negotiable priority for businesses in the face of the growing climate crisis. This threat is especially dire in APAC, which sits at the heart of the global biodiversity crisis and is home to two-thirds of the global population. In fact, experts predict that nature loss in the region will profoundly impact economic activities that rely on natural capital, with as much as 63 percent of APAC’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at risk.

Against this backdrop, governments across APAC are working towards responsible production by adopting sustainable practices. In Singapore, for example, the Republic aims to build a sustainable energy and chemicals park by 2023 to improve energy efficiency as part of its Green Plan 2030 – a whole-of-nation movement to advance sustainable development. We are also seeing other countries like Thailand pledging to collaborate with the German-Thai Chamber of Commerce to make its industrial sector greener and promote a circular economy for increased sustainability.

This is where Active Intelligence, the idea of creating in-the moment awareness of the business through real-time information to trigger immediate actions, steps in. Governments and manufacturers can use this tech framework to maximise the efficiency of their sustainability initiatives.

By analysing up-to-date, real-time information sourced from an extensive IoT-driven framework, Active Intelligence can help companies to accurately calculate the rate of resource usage and depletion. It can also help them determine, in advance, the quantity of raw materials required to achieve the delivery targets that are subject to change in a volatile market landscape, especially in the post-pandemic era. The seamless workflows enabled by Active Intelligence improve the interactions and flow of data between manufacturers, distributors, and retailers for more accurate and efficient decision-making and demand projection.

The insights generated can also be used to minimise wastage while sourcing materials from the primary sector, empowering manufacturers to enhance the intermediate processes to ensure optimal utilisation of non-renewable resources. The granular level of analyses enabled by adopting Active Intelligence can help companies develop innovative strategies to recycle the refuse to create divergent revenue streams, thus boosting their overall profitability.

Augmenting product engineering with automation

Traditional design procedures involve many levels of scrutiny and fault testing that are not only difficult to maintain manually but can also lead to human errors. Top manufacturers leverage the power of automation and analytics to overcome this challenge while optimising product engineering generative design efficiency.

A vast amount of data is involved in the process – and the greater the volume, the more efficient the algorithm. Active Intelligence can help companies leverage dynamic content and logic through AI and machine learning (ML) to drive innovation while minimising costs and time and eliminating errors from the production process.

For instance, Active Intelligence empowered Multipack LGM, an Australian packaging services provider, to strategically scale up and down its operations in line with fluctuating demand cycle in the wake of the pandemic. By reducing the decision-making time from days to minutes, the platform helped the brand take just-in-time decisions to efficiently streamline its production processes.

Deploying predictive maintenance

Machine breakdowns are costly affairs – not only because of the cost incurred to replace and repair the machine but also in terms of hours lost due to operational disruption. What compounds the challenge is that, in the absence of the right technology, predicting equipment failure is difficult. According to Senseye, global manufacturing and industrial firms lose 3.3 million hours a year to unplanned downtime.

Active Intelligence can empower manufacturers to deploy predictive maintenance. Industrial machines generate huge volumes of real-time and historical data – which can be analysed with AI/ML to predict and trigger proactive maintenance.

To illustrate, Honda, a leading vehicle manufacturer, worked with Qlik to develop an AI-fuelled modern analytics platform, enabling employees across departments to analyse real-time data directly and make data-informed decisions. This has allowed Honda to minimise production costs and downtime while augmenting productivity and responsiveness. In fact, the time spent on automobile planning which formerly took a month, can now be achieved in a day.

Staying ahead of disruptions

While the pandemic is a one-off event, disruptions in the supply chain are not. To navigate the post-pandemic digitalised ecosystem, governments and manufacturers will need technology to collate, combine, and analyse incredible volumes of information to make optimal business decisions swiftly – and Active Intelligence is the key to unlocking this capability.

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