Oden Discusses the Benefits of Technology for Fabrication Shops in the FF Journal

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I recently spoke with the the FF Journal about fabricators and the benefits of investing in technology to alleviate pain points on the shop floor.

Below is an excerpt from the article.


Advanced technology isn’t meant to simply replace people. “A combination of tech and talent still matters,” Acieta’s Poole says. “In order for companies to attract the best talent from this younger workforce, they need to show that their operation is looking to the future and investing in technology that will keep workers interested and engaged with the work they do.”

Fabricators compete for the same dwindling talent pool. Investing in new technologies is an important part of attracting new talent, says Willem Sundblad, CEO of Oden Technologies, which provides data acquisition hardware and process analytics software for manufacturers. Shops needn’t overhaul equipment either. Analytical tools can connect to machines new and old.

“You can easily double your efficiency without purchasing new equipment or undergoing a massive factory overhaul, just by understanding your current process,” Sundblad says. “Shops find that they can become more productive just by allowing their teams to solve more problems faster and be as efficient as possible.”

Read the Full Article

Forbes: Data Is The Foundation For Artificial Intelligence And Machine Learning

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Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are going to have a huge impact on manufacturing. With these technologies, manufacturers will gain the computational power needed to solve problems that humans can’t possibly solve. They will ultimately be able to provide prescriptive answers to production issues manufacturers have been asking for centuries. Namely, how do we make our product as efficiently as possible, with zero waste and the least amount of downtime.

As with most reports about groundbreaking technology, this discussion of the ‘holy-grail’ is way ahead of industry practices. The vision serves a useful purpose in suggesting what’s possible. But with many manufacturers lacking the data infrastructure necessary to obtain real AI and ML capabilities, the journey towards perfect production can also be so abstract that it confuses the very people looking to achieve it. I’m often asked by corporate leadership, “Where and how do we adopt AI technology?”

Begin with data.

Read more on Forbes.com

Oden CEO Receives Anders Wall Award for Exceptional Entrepreneurship

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Congratulations to Oden CEO Willem Sundblad for winning the Anders Wall Award for Exceptional Entrepreneurship at the annual Innovate46 conference!

Each year, Innovate46 aims to highlight the value of groundbreaking, Swedish entrepreneurship by showcasing some of the most disruptive and promising Swedish startups and bringing them to the very center of everything business: New York.

Watch the video below to hear Willem discuss the Anders Wall Award, Swedish entrepreneurship, and what’s next for Oden.

Forbes: Beyond Digital Transformation: How Industry 4.0 Benefits Your Customers, Employees, and Culture

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It’s no secret that Industry 4.0, or the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has the power to drive true quantifiable change in the manufacturing industry. The immediate bottom-line production benefits are clear: fewer machine failures, reduced scrap and downtime issues, and improved throughput – to name a few. However, there are additional, less quantifiable, benefits of implementing this technology.

One trend that I’ve started seeing among manufacturers is the use of Industry 4.0 to create a positive, cultural shift across an organization. Think about how lean manufacturing and Six Sigma revolutionized the plant floor by turning production workers into problem solvers striving for continuous improvement. Similarly, Industry 4.0 is transforming how factory employees work, collaborate, and serve their customers.

Read more on Forbes.com

Forbes: Human-Technology Symbiosis in Manufacturing: Changing the Discussion About Automation and Workforce

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Part 2 in a two-part series exploring the less tangible benefits of Industry 4.0.

Will technology help or replace workers?

The debate within manufacturing about whether technology will completely replace people is interesting, but it’s the wrong debate to be having. Technology is changing the workforce, it’s a fact, and it has eliminated low-skilled manufacturing jobs in the past; but it’s not as black-and-white as most arguments suggest.

Rather, the discussion should be about the concept of human-machine (or man-computer) symbiosis, the mutually beneficial relationship between humans and technology, and how machines and software can intelligently and physically increase the productivity of the systems to be more than that of human or machine alone.

Read more on Forbes.com

Forbes: How Industry 4.0 Helps Manufacturers Solve Workforce Challenges

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Part 1 in a two-part series exploring the less tangible benefits of Industry 4.0.

Stuck between a soon-to-be retired workforce and a cohort of young engineers and operators with comparatively less experience, manufacturers are in a bind. They have job openings, but can’t find qualified people to fill them.

While the general public believes that all of the manufacturing jobs are going away, unemployment figures tell a different story. Since 2011, manufacturing unemployment has been lower than overall unemployment, sometimes by wide margins.

Exacerbating the issue is the skills gap, which means the jobs that employers need filled require skills that most of the unemployment pool doesn’t have. Manufacturers need highly skilled engineers and machine operators, but often times it’s those without this required skill set that are looking for work.

The result is that almost every factory I visit has open engineering positions and is struggling to run their business with a workforce that’s smaller than ideal.

One of the solutions to this conundrum is technology.

Read more on Forbes.com

Forbes: ‘Machines As A Service’: Industry 4.0 Powers OEM Aftermarket Revenue Growth

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Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are no strangers to boom or bust sales cycles. Traditionally, they’re either ramping up production to meet demand or seeking ways to slash costs when sales are down.

But Industry 4.0, or the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), is enabling new sales models that generate more consistent revenue streams for OEMs. There are considerable benefits for forward-thinking manufacturers that transition from selling a product to offering, “machines as a service.” Rather than relying on a one-time sale, they’re charging customers based on machine use and service.

Machines as a service can revolutionize the way OEMs design, sell and service products. It will be a win-win for OEMs and their customers, as both partners benefit from increased predictability.

Read more on Forbes.com

Oden Talks Industry 4.0 in Wire Journal International

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I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Wire Journal International on the increased adoption of Industry 4.0 and how more manufacturers are embracing digital transformation and analytics.

Below is an excerpt from the feature.


 

How has your activity in Industry 4.0 most changed since the 2016 report?

In 2016 it felt like we had to do a lot of education and evangelization about Industry 4.0, but now we don’t have to introduce the topic anymore. Our company, Oden Technologies, and client base has grown exponentially, and we’re seeing bigger audiences at our speaking engagements and webinars. However, the one thing I’m very excited by is that we’re moving deeper and deeper in the Industry 4.0 technology to deliver more value. We’ve hired a VP of Data Science, Deepak Turaga, who led IBM’s AI and Machine Learning group so we can move further and truly deliver on the promise of Industry 4.0 with predictive quality and predictive maintenance.

Other industries and media, outside of manufacturing, are catching on to the potential of Industry 4.0. I’ve been asked to be a contributor to Forbes.com on the future of manufacturing and Industry 4.0. Additionally, we just closed a new round of funding with Atomico, and throughout the process we saw just how much venture capitalists and large financial institutions are seeing the tremendous value data analytics can provide manufacturers.

Read the Full Feature

Why IIoT is Essential for Every Factory

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Enterprise-grade connected technology associated with the ever-expanding internet of things has continued to expand its reach. The latest iteration of IoT has hit manufacturing in the form of the Industrial Internet of Things, or IIoT, allowing workers to harness the power of the internet to streamline and strengthen production processes and more effectively meet consumer demands.

On paper, IIoT seems like the technology poised to drive innovation in manufacturing – and industrial organizations are following this thread in their investments. Enterprise IoT spending is expected to surpass $772 billion in 2018 and reach $1 trillion by 2021.

That said, for IIoT to be a sustainable solution, upgrading manufacturing technology needs to be more than just “keeping up with the Joneses.” The question then becomes: Is IIoT an operational necessity or just a flashy add-on?  Manufacturers and other industrial firms need to look clearly at their existing technology and determine where IIoT can translate to substantial – critical – improvements.

 

Human and automation symbiosis

Businesses in the manufacturing space are among the most enthusiastic adopters of IIoT technology, accounting for $189 billion in investments related to these cutting-edge assets in 2018. An estimated 38 percent of factories are already leveraging IIoT processes. As a result, you see some of the most mature IIoT workflows in this space – warehouses and production facilities where man, machine and advanced data analytics are working in harmony to achieve incredible results.

Perhaps one of the most prominent examples of IIoT at work is taking place at one of the world’s most successful companies: Amazon. In what MIT dubbed a “human-robot symbiosis,” Amazon has transformed their warehousing and fulfillment centers through the deployment of automation, allowing for the company to cut operating costs by 20 percent.

What makes the Amazon deployment so novel is that IIoT is being viewed as an enhancement of industrial processes rather than a replacement for human labor.

“It’s a natural outgrowth of efforts to harness cheap computing power to make robots more collaborative,” Wily Shih, a professor at Harvard Business School who studies manufacturing, said at the time.

Smaller companies have similarly employed IIoT to improve operations in their facilities. Robotics maker Fanuc, for instance, sought to address the issue of downtime by employing a cloud-based analytics software that would predict imminent component failures and flag for maintenance. The Zero Downtime system Fanuc pioneered ultimately resulted in the company being awarded GM’s prestigious Supplier of the Year Innovation Award in 2016.

 

250% increase in productivity with automation

Smart factories represent the pinnacle of IIoT technology and early facilities, such as those discussed above, have revealed that connected industrial-devices, deployed at scale can have an immense impact on the shop floor. This is why an estimated 76 percent of manufacturers worldwide are developing these advanced sites. In fact, almost 60 percent of the industry have $100 million or more invested in these efforts.

Embarking on the IIoT journey: Where to start

As both of these use cases show, IIoT is more than just a flashy add-on to existing workflows. It’s hard to argue with the ability to seamlessly turn digital designs into reality via automated production lines or a whopping 250 percent increase in productivity.

Manufacturers that have yet to roll out concrete IIoT development plans should certainly consider doing so quickly, as it seems that this technology may soon drive the industry. Still, this can be an intimidating undertaking. Even smaller scale IIoT deployments have lots of moving parts – literally and figuratively – that even the most advanced internal IT teams might struggle to juggle without external assistance and guidance. Even worse, some some manufacturers may not even know where to start with their needed upgrades.  

This is why we built Oden Technologies: to assist manufacturers that want to embrace IIoT technology, but aren’t sure where and how to begin. Our hardware and software solutions allow manufacturers to collect actionable shop floor data and use it to improve and streamline their production flows, thereby building the data-backed foundation needed to move into more advanced IIoT deployments.

Connect with us today to learn more about how our technology can future-proof your manufacturing operation.