*By Kathleen Mitford

After years of uncertainty, from decreasing production in the supply chain and increasing customer expectations, to changes in consumer demand and labor shortages, manufacturing remains one of the most resilient and complex industries. Today, we are witnessing the sector enter a transformative era, powered by AI and new solutions created using this technology.

This shift is leading many organizations to fundamentally alter their business models and re-evaluate industry-wide challenges such as data sets and information properties, differently packaged products, supply chain visibility issues, shortages of labor, the need to qualify employees, among others. AI, in this context, is more than just an automation tool, it is a catalyst for innovation, efficiency and sustainability. Innovation in artificial intelligence creates a groundbreaking opportunity to help manufacturers increase time to value, strengthen operations resiliency, optimize factory and production costs, and produce repeatable results.

In front of Hannover Messe, one of the world's largest manufacturing innovation events, Microsoft is announcing new AI and data solutions for manufacturers to help unlock innovation, enable smart factories, optimize operations and increase employee productivity. The manufacturing industry has been incredibly resilient over the last decade and the infusion of new AI solutions signifies a critical transformation in the industry.

Unlock innovation and power the next generation of smart factories with data and AI

Manufacturing is one of the most data-dense industries, generating an average of 1.9 petabytes each year worldwide, according to the McKinsey Global Institute. Most of this information is not even used, leaving many valuable insights unexplored. According to research by Gartner®, generative AI will transform the manufacturing industry to a level that was not previously possible, providing new insights and recommendations based on data and information that is now easily actionable. That's why the importance of data continues to grow as organizations realize they're still just scratching the surface of what's possible.

To help customers leverage their data and generate insights from it, we are currently announcing private preview of data solutions. Manufacturing on Microsoft Fabric and the Copilot Model for Factory Operations on Azure AI. These solutions enable manufacturers to unify their operational technology and information technology (IT) data to accelerate and scale data transformation for AI on Fabric, our SaaS-based end-to-end analytics platform. The Operations Copilot model helps manufacturers create their own copilots for frontline workers using unified data. Employees can use natural language to query this information, gaining more knowledge, training, problem solving, asset maintenance and more. For example, if a factory manager wants to understand why a machine is repeatedly breaking down, he can consult the co-pilot to gain contextual insights and resolve the issue in a few days rather than weeks.

As part of our private viewing, the Intertape Polymer Group (IPG) uses the Sight Machine Manufacturing Data Platform to continuously transform the data generated by your factory equipment into a robust database to analyze and model your machines, production processes and finished products. IPG now leverages Sight Machine's Factory CoPilot, a generative AI platform with an intuitive natural language chat interface powered by Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing and the Copilot model for factory operations on Azure AI.

This tool facilitates the team’s ability to quickly gather insights and direct work in production lines that previously operated as “black boxes.” Instead of working with manual spreadsheets and inaccessible data, all teammates, including production, engineering, purchasing and finance, now have better information to guide product and process decisions across the entire plant, increasing throughput and reducing waste levels. stock.

Also in private preview, the Bridgestone is partnering with Avanade to address your production challenges, focusing on critical issues related to outages and scheduling inefficiencies like lost yield, failures that can turn into quality issues. The company wants to leverage the power of manufacturing data solutions in Fabric and the copilot model for factory operations to implement a natural language query system that allows frontline workers with different experience levels to access suggestions that lead to faster problem resolution. The team is excited to establish a centralized system that efficiently gathers and presents critical information from multiple sources and facilitates decision-making, increasing operational agility across Bridgestone's entire production ecosystem.

Creating more resilient operations and supply chains

A robust data strategy must extend from the cloud to the manufacturing process. In this way, it can enable the level of scale and integration that will help manufacturers accelerate industrial transformation across operations. However, collecting OT data and integrating it into various solutions is not an easy task. Production is complex and its sensors, machines and systems are highly varied. Every website is unique and ensuring the right data is being shared with the right person at the right time is onerous and expensive. Unfortunately, these scaling and integration obstacles prevent the company from scaling AI solutions across all factory floors or gaining global visibility across all of its sites.

With this in mind, Microsoft recently released the adaptive cloud approach, including the Azure IoT Operations. Our adaptive cloud modernizes edge infrastructure across all operations, including factories, to leverage a modern, composable, connected architecture for your applications. Our adaptive cloud approach creates the level of scale needed to iterate AI solutions across production lines and production spaces. Putting the adaptive cloud approach into practice, Azure IoT Operations leverages open standards and works with Microsoft Fabric to create a common foundation for IT and OT collaboration. To learn more about our adaptive cloud approach and Azure IoT Operations, visit our Azure Blog.

Microsoft customer Electrolux Group, seeking to increase global operational efficiency, has developed a single platform to create, deploy and manage multiple key manufacturing use cases. The objective is to capture all manufacturing data, contextualize it and make it available for real-time decision making at all levels of the organization, within a scalable infrastructure. To enable this, the company is adopting a complete Microsoft solution that leverages the adaptive cloud approach, including Azure IoT Operations. Using this approach, Electrolux Group is looking to reduce multi-vendor overhead, a consistent and simple way to deploy and manage multiple use cases in one location, and then the ability to scale these solutions to multiple locations with fleet management simple and consistent.

Supply chain disruption is not new, however, its complexity and rate of change is outpacing organizations' ability to address problems. Manufacturers are under pressure to prevent and minimize disruptions and, as a result, almost 90% of professionals plan to invest in ways to make their supply chains more resilient.

To support our customers on this journey, we are announcing the next preview of a traceability add-on for the Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management which will allow companies to increase visibility of their product genealogy through the different stages of the supply chain. Traceability will also help companies track events and attributes across supply chain processes and provide an interface to query and analyze data.

Empower frontline workers with AI tools to improve productivity and job satisfaction

To enable smart factory operations, an empowered and connected workforce is critical. According to the latest Job Trend Index, 63% of frontline workers perform repetitive or menial tasks that take time away from completing a more meaningful task. Additionally, 80% of these professionals think AI will increase their ability to find the right information and answers they need. From the office to the factory floor to the field, we are building solutions to address the challenges manufacturers face, helping to simplify frontline operations, improve communication and collaboration, the employee experience, and strengthen security on shared devices .

Today we are introducing new features to Copilot in Dynamics 365 Field Service that help managers and service technicians efficiently find information and solve problems while keeping customers updated every step of the way because they help summarize the work. Always available, field service managers can now interact with Copilot to find pertinent work order information and do so using natural language in their workflow in the Dynamics 365 Field Service web app. Additionally, available in public preview, frontline workers can also configure and customize the fields that Copilot uses to generate summaries in Dynamics 365 Field Service.

To further simplify collaboration between field service managers, technicians, and remote experts, Dynamics 365 Field Service users with the Field Service app in Teams can share links to work orders that automatically expand and provide important details. This feature is generally available starting today. If technicians need additional assistance from remote experts to resolve issues, they can simply access Dynamics 365 Remote Assistance capabilities in the workflow in Microsoft Teams with anchored spatial annotations, even if the camera moves.

Microsoft ecosystem and partnerships in the age of AI

These industry innovations in data and AI are powered through Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing. It enables organizations to accelerate their data and AI journey by augmenting the Microsoft Cloud with industry-relevant data solutions, application models, and AI services. Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing brings the best of Microsoft and our partners to jointly accelerate digital transformation in manufacturing.

Microsoft is a trusted co-innovation partner committed to working with companies to unlock the true potential of AI solutions and positively transform the industry. Our offerings can be customized through an unmatched global ecosystem. This year, we are proud to have the following valued partners demonstrating this productive union at our Hannover Messe booth: Accenture, Annata, Ansys, Avanade, AVEVA, Blue Yonder, Bosch, CapGemini, Cognite, Connected Cars DK, DSA, HERE Technologies, Hexagon, Netstar, NVIDIA, o9 Solutions, PTC, Rockwell Automation, SAP, Syntax, Sight Machine, Siemens, SymphonyAI, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Threedy, ToolsGroup and Tulip Interfaces.


[1]Gartner®, GenAI use-case prism for manufacturing, By Ellen Eichhorn, Sohard Aggarwal, July 2023. GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc., and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used here with permission. All rights reserved.Tags: AI, Copilot for Dynamics 365Generative AI.

*Kathleen Mitford, CVP, Microsoft Global Industry

Notice: The opinion presented in this article is the responsibility of its author and not of ABES - Brazilian Association of Software Companies

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