IBM’s Christine Gonzalez-Wertz’s (@hermione1) just published article in Medium on #CogMfg is the first of a set of posts on something IBM calls Cognitive Manufacturing. While not as compelling as “Smarter Planet” or “OutThink”, IBM is very good evangelizing new technology driven trends when they’ve matured enough to be considered seriously by top management in large enterprises (when it’s time for big investments).

The post, The future of manufacturing is Cognitive, is a good framework for considering the use of cognitive tech, AI, deep learning (pick your buzzword), in manufacturing. This article and presumably the following pieces will help you with the justification for the investments, both financially and the why now questions you’ll get from your boss. (if your boss is motivated by sustainability, another good read is “Advancing Sustainable Manufacturing with the Use of Cognitive Agents” by Steven J. Skerlos)

The graphics are useful and the six forces (below) are worth committing to memory when you’re selling one of these projects:

  1. Aging Workforce
  2. Emerging Economy Wage Improvement
  3. Massive Increase in Computing Power
  4. Zettabyte Increase in Data, Images and Video
  5. Billions of Sensors
  6. Personalization and Customization

I would add the exponential changes affecting both enabling technologies and your customer markets to the list as these dramatically affect the speed with which you need to adapt and the disruption in your knowledge base/workforce.

From our perspective, this is a continuation of manufacturing’s investment in automation and analytics, a trend that has been underway for a long time. In contrast to marketing’s recent discovery of data driven decision-making, manufacturing has been investing in and using analytics for as long as anyone can remember. The tools may have changed but the mindset has not. The cool thing about this for the manufacturing folks I’ve worked with is that these six forces may bring them some respect from the C-Suite and more importantly some investment capital for new information tools.

We have been working recently in this area on MRO (maintenance, repair and operations) issues using BrainDocs to turn manufacturing assembly and repair documentation into a framework of intelligent agents that enrich legacy and “dark data” for data discovery tools. This work has been supporting corrective action and training under new analytics and data driven factory initiatives.

Rather than try to overhaul or replace your entire information infrastructure or require a big data warehouse, our solutions can be implemented at the team level, use existing BI tools and do not require data scientists. Our solution can be used from the cloud or installed on-premise and runs on PC class VMs. You can start small, get immediate ROI and deploy/scale at your pace.

Most important, the solution is based on your existing manufacturing documentation and domain experts from the floor, and complements your existing corrective action processes.

To learn more, contact us for a case study or request a live demo.