Huawei, along with industry partners, recently held the Intelligent World 2030 Forum. David Wang, Executive Director and President of ICT Products & Solutions of Huawei, released the Intelligent World 2030 report with a keynote speech on Exploring the Intelligent World 2030. This is the first time that Huawei has used quantitative and qualitative methods to systematically describe the intelligent world in the next decade and forecast industry trends, helping industries identify new opportunities and discover new value.
Over the past three years, Huawei has conducted in-depth exchanges with more than 1,000 academics, customers, and partners in industry, organized more than 2,000 workshops, and drawn on data and methods from authoritative organizations, derived insights from scientific journals, and drawn wisdom from relevant industry associations and consulting firms, as well as experts within and outside Huawei. Through these efforts, Huawei has developed the Intelligent World 2030 report, providing insights into Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) technology and application trends in the next decade. The full report is available for download.
Snapshot From The future: ICT-Powered Flexible Manufacturing
To respond to changing market conditions and set themselves apart in the face of fierce competition, companies must take the initiative and embrace new production models. That’s why an increasing number of companies are looking to concepts like flexible manufacturing. Flexible manufacturing is an advanced production model characterized by on-demand production. It helps companies become more flexible and enables them to rapidly respond to ever-changing market demand. In addition, flexible manufacturing shortens the R&D cycle, cuts R&D costs, and ensures equipment is not left idle, while reducing inventory risks and speeding up capital turnover. Therefore, it allows companies to seize market opportunities and grow sustainably. Flexible manufacturing involves the following areas:
Flexibility of Product Design and Production Line Planning:
After receiving an order for a new category of product, companies need to quickly conduct R&D and design, and rapidly adjust factors such as production line equipment, working procedures, processes, and batch size. This is where ICT comes in. Simulation, modeling, VR, and other ICT technologies can be used to simulate the entire new manufacturing process. This will reduce the cost of new product development and design, and support more accurate adjustment cost projections and capacity projections.
Flexibility of Process:
In flexible manufacturing, companies can design products based on the personalized needs of customers, or invite customers to directly participate in product design (e.g., using modular systems to enable customers to define what a product will ultimately look like). Both models require an intelligent scheduling system. The system makes automatic adjustments and provides an optimal production plan based on known features such as the factory’s production capacity, order complexity, and delivery deadlines. After a company receives an order, the
scheduling system will automatically identify all universal components, custom components, and procedures and materials required to manufacture these components. By coordinating production tasks and the provisioning of materials and tools, this scheduling system maximizes the productivity of all equipment and workers in the factory so that no component will become a bottleneck in order delivery.
Flexibility of Equipment:
As the number of customizations and small-batch orders increases, factories must be able to switch between production processes in real time. Conventional manufacturing equipment can generally only be reconfigured by trained engineers using specific programming devices and languages. This makes switchover processes time-consuming, and does not support the kind of rapid responsiveness that companies need. In the future, ICT technologies such as visual programming, natural language interaction, and action capture will help factories reprogram equipment quickly and easily. This will help companies promptly meet consumer demand for flexible manufacturing.
Flexibility of Logistics:
One of the keys to flexible manufacturing is modularization, through which a large number of finished components are manufactured. This requires automated ICT technology to effectively manage warehousing and logistics, which prevents omissions and other errors in the shipment process. Take furniture producers as an example. With large-scale customization, every board, decorative strip, and handle may need its own identification code or radio frequency identification (RFID) tag to facilitate automated packing and loading, and to support traceability throughout the whole transportation and distribution process.
Traditional manufacturing followed a ‘product >place > people’ model that forced sales to start with the site of production. As manufacturing becomes flexible, we can reverse that model to ‘people > place > product’ so that production is based on demand, or even reduce it to a ‘people > product’ approach. This will create a new, truly ‘people-centric’ production model.
New Productivity will Reshape Production Models, and Enhance Resilience
By 2030, digital technologies will be transforming companies. Technologies such as AI, sensors, IoT, cloud computing, 5G, and AR/VR are poised to become new drivers of productivity. They will help make up for labor shortages, so that companies can seize new business opportunities and expand their possibilities.
Huawei predicts that by 2030, every 10,000 workers will work with 390 robots, and the number of VR and AR users will reach 1 billion. Also, one million companies are expected to build their own 5G private networks (including virtual private networks). In addition, cloud services are forecast to account for 87% of enterprises’ application expenditures, while AI computing will account for 7% of a company’s total IT investment.
In the future, product design, process design, equipment functions, logistics, and distribution will all be reshaped to become more flexible and serve new people-centric production models. As 3D printing advances and becomes more widely adopted in commercial settings, mold manufacturing, production line adjustment, and many other activities can be eliminated. This will give consumers a much bigger voice in the design and production process, and brand-new personalized production models will be created. Powered by digitalization, supply chains will be visualized and expand into supply networks. This will enable companies to become more resilient than ever and more capable of responding to volatile markets.