The 20/20 on Machine Vision
We look at machine vision: what it is, how it functions in the future-facing industrial environment, and whether it’s right for your business.
In the global push to adopt smart manufacturing, certain factories, known as “lighthouses,” are streets ahead, setting new benchmarks—and leading the way.
“Lighthouses” in the manufacturing sector are factories that have implemented Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) technology so successfully, and evolved so effectively in scale, production, agility, and efficiency, that, like their maritime namesakes, they light the path to success, giving other manufacturers a “beacon” by which to steer.
The lighthouse concept is largely the brainchild of the Swiss-based World Economic Forum, which researched these qualities across more than a thousand manufacturers around the world, and co-published (with McKinsey & Co.) its findings in a 2019 white paper.
WEF and McKinsey have established The Lighthouse Network, a global platform for helping manufacturers identify and adopt successful Industry 4.0 strategies. As well as fostering collaboration and sharing insights, the network curates a list of factories worldwide that qualify for lighthouse status. The list numbers over 130 at present and continues to grow.
Six of these factories are run by clients of Facteon: Haier (four) and Arçelik (two). Reinaldo Silva, Facteon’s head of operational excellence, sums up how our common business goals align with those of lighthouses. “In improving existing factories, equipment and software, we set out to reduce downtime, costs, and waste (in terms of product and time), and to increase efficiency and profit.”
Lighthouses are capitalizing on three mega-trends in manufacturing: connectivity, flexible automation, and intelligence, say WEF and McKinsey. They represent “the leading edge of adopting technology at scale,” and while their output may range widely, from soap powder to semiconductors, certain broad factors correlate. For instance:
Lighthouses’ measure of success lies in meeting very high standards across four categories:
Industry 4.0 technologies underpin the operations of lighthouses. These can include engineering, automation, robotics, automatically guided vehicles (AGVs) and intelligent materials handling systems, AI and computer vision, 5G and edge computing, all interconnected for automated analysis of day-to-day operations and identification of opportunities for optimization.
Facteon is proud to be working with large-scale manufacturing customers that were able to have many factories qualified as lighthouse factories by the WEF. The digital transformation successfully implemented across these factories not only boosts productivity, but also reduces costs and waste in all its forms.
Cutting-edge tech alone, however, isn’t a magic bullet. It’s estimated that more than two-thirds of manufacturers who implement advanced technology fail to evolve beyond pilot mode. McKinsey research shows that fast action is a key prerequisite: companies that adopt AI within the first five to seven years, it calculates, can expect cumulative cashflow growth of 122%, whilst that figure for late adopters is around 10%.
Clarity of vision and purpose is also important. Enno de Boer, a senior partner at McKinsey, lists three must-haves: “First, clear strategy. Without that, you get stuck in pilot purgatory, never seeing which technologies matter for your business. Second, workforce capabilities. Without enough of the right skills, your transformation runs out of steam. Third, strong governance. Without a real execution engine, you won’t capture impact or keep improving.”
If you are at an early stage of your Industry 4.0 journey, Reinaldo Silva lists four key tips to get started:
Speak with one of our consultants to find out how your business can benefit from smart manufacturing. Contact Facteon via our contact page.