AI Applied to the Factory of the Future

Interview with Morgan Zimmermann, CEO of NETVIBES-EXALEAD, Dassault Systèmes.

The “factory of the future” is a fashionable expression at the moment. What is your interpretation of it?

The factory of the future encompasses a number of buzzwords – internet, industrial, IoT, digital twin, etc. – all connected to digital transformation. Using new technologies, we can capture much more data than before.

Many companies talk about digital twins, by which they mean that they can take data from the real world and create a representation of a physical object, which could be a machine, a production line or a whole factory. Analytics and advanced prediction functions then allow them to anticipate problems. However, that approach is seriously limited, because it only uses real-world data as the learning input. Without any reference base for projections, it is very hard to correlate, segregate, interpret and contextualize the data.

This is why we decided that real-world data should not be projected onto a representation of the object (a “dead” image), but onto a complete virtual model, which can be fully configured and simulated. This is what we call the 3DEXPERIENCE twin.

By reconnecting the virtual and the real worlds, we can generate infinite possibilities. For example, this allows companies to devise “What-if?” scenarios and create new data for artificial intelligence algorithms by simulating extreme usage conditions that are rarely, if ever, encountered in the real world.

How can data be used to support collaboration?

Twenty years ago, Dassault Systèmes made the first digital mock-up of the Boeing 777, and that became the catalyst for multi-discipline collaboration.

Today, all business processes are digitalized. From program resource allocation to cost management and logistics, everything within these systems is digital.

Accordingly, analytics and Artificial Intelligence are providing opportunities to enhance performance and collaboration. They allow all staff members to understand how their decisions affect the company’s performance (program price, production costs, logistics), and so they ensure that everyone involved in performance enhancement complies with the company’s priorities.

How do you see the future of manufacturing?

Over time, manufacturing has moved from local optimization, at the factory level, to holistic optimization involving integrated operations. But the real challenge is to overhaul what we call the “Value Network.” In the new ecosystems, everyone will be able to rethink entirely their contribution to the overall value chain and establish new business models. This will result in greater agility, infinite development opportunities and new ways of increasing competitiveness.

So I’m very optimistic about the future of the manufacturing sector and the companies that work in it.

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