Creating value with generative AI in manufacturing

  • Posted on June 3, 2024
  • Estimated reading time 5 minutes
Generative AI in manufacturing

It was inspiring to see how manufacturers are embracing the theme of “energizing a sustainable industry” by digitally transforming their design-make-and-use value chain at Hannover Messe this year. Key to all of this is the ability to produce superior products faster with less waste in all its many forms – energy, water, scrap, time and money.

To achieve this goal, manufacturers need to be able to harness near real-time data across their highly distributed estates, spanning a variety of places, processes, partners and people on a global basis. We’re delighted to be able to provide our manufacturing and supply chain clients with some exciting new solutions that makes this a whole lot easier:

  • Avanade Manufacturing Copilot, powered by Manufacturing Data Solutions (MDS) in Microsoft Fabric and Copilot Template for Factory Operations: This solution enables manufacturers to unlock intelligence in IT and OT systems and supercharge the ask-an-expert capabilities of Microsoft Copilot. For example, it can be used to help workers understand the cause of quality control issues and expedite shift changeover. MDS takes a graph-of-graph approach to knowledge management, leveraging ISA-95 from the International Society of Automation (the international standard for integrating enterprise and control systems), to deliver operational visibility from the top floor to the shop floor and beyond.

  • Microsoft Fabric One Lake: This ground-breaking platform accelerates time-to-insight generation by unifying, enriching, and modeling manufacturing data in a single, logical data lake. It ingests data from a variety of sources, such as IoT sensors, systems of record (i.e. enterprise resource planning and manufacturing execution systems (ERP, MES)) as well as industrial automation applications. This enables you identify inefficient processes, maximize product quality and yields, and eliminate bottlenecks and waste which helps you to cut costs and carbon emissions.

  • Advanced machine vision, edge sensing AI and digital twins from SONY Atrios, enabled by Microsoft Azure: We’re also enabling firms to automate visual inspections of products at key points across their production lines, helping them identify issues earlier to reduce scrap and rework. This solution can also assist with wire harness checks to ensure the integrity of electrical products. It can even be used to recognize the numberplates of trucks arriving in your docking bays to accelerate unloading and loading processes. A visualization tool enables you to maximize vehicle fill rates to reduce the number of trips your vehicles need to take and cut carbon emissions. Meanwhile, you can automate stock checks in your warehouses using cameras and edge AI analytics to get a near real-time view of your inventory. This means helps manufacturers strike that tricky balance of avoiding stock-outs and minimizing the cost of on-hand inventory.

  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management with new traceability features: This popular platform helps firms to streamline supply chain planning, procurement, production, inventory and warehouse management, and transportation processes. Newly introduced traceability features are also coming out later this year to help manufacturers comply with new legislation, such as the EU Supply Chain Act, to ensure defective and potentially unsafe products can be recalled easily. The tool also enables you to create a chain of custody for each product, based on individual identifiers (such as serial numbers or batch numbers), across your supplier value chain and throughout the product lifecycle. This means you can understand your suppliers’ sourcing practices and the provenance of raw ingredients and materials for enhanced Environmental Social Governance (ESG) reporting.

Microsoft Azure Adaptive Cloud Approach, Azure IoT Operations and Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS): Manufacturers often have a large variety of geographically dispersed sites, each with their own equipment and IoT device types. Without a unified, enterprise-wide technology architecture and data plane, it’s difficult to move towards a world of AI- and data-driven decision making and innovation at scale. Microsoft Azure IoT Operations is a set of modular services that helps firms overcome this problem to enable repeatable, scalable and secure solution deployment and management in the field.

Managing IoT estates at scale is rapidly becoming a big headache for most manufacturers. IoT Analytics predicts that by 2026, more than 50% of products sold by OEMs will be IoT-connected. Already there are 16 billion active connected devices in the world. With Microsoft’s adaptive cloud approach, you can unify siloed teams, distributed sites, and sprawling systems with a collaborative innovation and operations platform – enhanced by AI – across your hybrid, multi-cloud, edge and IoT technology stack.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Field Service with new Copilot capabilities: We’re also pleased to bring new innovations to enhance post-sales service delivery to our clients. Field service technicians can now use Copilot to summarize work orders and product manuals, search other Microsoft dataverse records (including the customer’s contact details) and draft email updates. Should the engineer need additional assistance from remote experts, they can access Dynamics 365 Remote Assist capabilities on-the-fly in Microsoft Teams. The technician can simply initiate a video call and both parties are able to use annotations and arrows to highlight the parts of the machine that need attention. This solution enables highly skilled experts to support many more service engineers in the field.

As you can see, the end-to-end production, supplier and service value chain is a real treasure trove of information. With these new advances in data management, combined with the ask-an-expert capabilities of Microsoft Copilot, we can put near real-time intelligence into the hands of your frontline workers to boost productivity, quality and sustainability while cutting costs.

If you would like to find out more about these exciting new solutions, please reach out to me and my team via manufacturing@avanade.com.

We’re also running a series of manufacturing events for peer networking and inspiration in cities across the world. Please get in touch to be added to our invite list.


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