Introducing new Google Cloud manufacturing solutions: smart factories, smarter workers

Today, manufacturers are advancing on their digital transformation journey, betting on innovative technologies like cloud and AI to strengthen competitiveness and deliver sustainable growth. Nearly two thirds of manufacturers already use cloud solutions, according to McKinsey. The actual work of scaling digital transformation projects from proof of concept to production, however, still remains a challenge for the majority of them, according to analysts.

We believe the scalability challenges revolve around two factors—the lack of access to contextualized operational data and the skills gap to use complex data science and AI tools on the factory floor.

To ensure manufacturers can scale their digital transformation efforts into production, Google Cloud is announcing new manufacturing solutions, specifically designed for manufacturers’ needs. 

The new manufacturing solutions from Google Cloud give manufacturing engineers and plant managers access to unified and contextualized data from across their disparate assets and processes.

Let’s take a look at the new solutions as we follow the data journey, from the factory floor to the cloud:

  1. Manufacturing Data Engine is the foundational cloud solution to process, contextualize and store factory data. The cloud platform can acquire data from any type of machine, supporting a wide range of data, from telemetry to image data, via a private, secure, and low cost connection between edge and cloud. With built-in data normalization and context-enrichment capabilities, it provides a common data model, with a factory-optimized data lakehouse for storage. 
  2. Manufacturing Connect is the factory edge platform co-developed with Litmus Automation that quickly connects with nearly any manufacturing asset via an extensive library of 250-plus machine protocols. It translates machine data into a digestible dataset and sends it to the Manufacturing Data Engine for processing, contextualization and storage. By supporting containerized workloads, it allows manufacturers to run low-latency data visualization, analytics and ML capabilities directly on the edge.

Built on the Manufacturing Data Engine are a growing set of data analytics and AI use cases, enabled by Google Cloud and our partners:

  • Manufacturing analytics & insights: An out-of-the-box integration with Looker templates that delivers a dashboarding and analytics experience. As an easy-to-use, no-code data and analytics model, it empowers manufacturing engineers and plant managers to quickly create and modify custom dashboards, adding new machines, setups, and factories automatically. The solution enables drill down into the data against KPIs, or on-demand to uncover new insights and improvement opportunities throughout the factory. Shareable insights unlock collaboration across the enterprise and with partners.
  • Predictive maintenance: Pre-built predictive maintenance machine learning models allow manufacturers to deploy in weeks without compromising on prediction accuracy. Manufacturers can continuously improve their models and refine them in collaboration with Google Cloud engineers. 
  • Machine-level anomaly detection: A purpose-built integration that leverages Google Cloud’s Time Series Insights API on real-time machine and sensor data to identify anomalies as they occur and provide alerts. 

“The growing amount of sensor data generated on our assembly lines creates an opportunity for smarter analytics around product quality, production efficiency, and equipment health monitoring, but it also means new data intake and management challenges,” said Jason Ryska, director of manufacturing technology development at Ford Motor Company. “We worked with Google Cloud to implement a data platform now operating on more than 100 key machines connected across two plants, streaming and storing over 25 million records per week. We’re gaining strong insights from the data that will help us implement predictive and preventive actions and continue to become even more efficient in our manufacturing plants.”

“With the tight integration of a powerful factory edge solution with Google Cloud, it is easier than ever for factories to tap into cloud capabilities,” said Masaharu Akieda, general manager for the Digital Solutions Division at KYOCERA Communication Systems Company. “Google Cloud’s solutions enable a broader group of users beyond data scientists to quickly access, analyze and use data in a variety of use cases. We are excited to partner with Google Cloud as we implement new manufacturing solutions to optimize production operations and consistently increase quality.”

“As the global innovator of solid state cooling and heating technology, we’ve developed a sustainable manufacturing platform that uses less water, less electricity, and less chemical waste,” says Jason Ruppert, chief operations officer of Phononic. “This partnership with Google Cloud allows us to contextualize data across all of our manufacturing processes – ultimately providing us the analytics and insights to optimize our operations and continue to bring to the world products that cool sustainably, reducing greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions and improving the environment.”

A growing number of partners are extending Google Cloud’s manufacturing solutions, from connectors, to AI-driven use cases. Take a look at what our partners are saying about the Manufacturing Data Engine and Manufacturing Connect at our upcoming Google Cloud Manufacturing Spotlight.

With Google cloud’s new manufacturing solutions, three critical pieces of smart manufacturing operations are strengthened and integrated: factory-floor engineers, data, and AI

Empowering factory-floor engineers to be the hub of smart manufacturing

Over the last few years, the manufacturing industry contributed more than 10% of the U.S. gross domestic product, or 24% of GDP with indirect value (i.e. purchases from other industries) included. This is also the sector that employs approximately 15 million people, representing 10% of total U.S. employment. However, more than 20% of manufacturers’ workforce in the US is older than 55 years, and an average age of 44 years old – with similar patterns seen across the world. Finding new talent to replace the retiring workforce is getting increasingly harder for manufacturers.

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Companies therefore need to both enable their existing workforce, while making it more attractive to new talent to join. This balance requires making critical technology such as Cloud and AI accessible, easier to use, and deeply embedded in manufacturers’ day-to-day operations.

Google Cloud’s manufacturing solutions are designed with this end in mind. Combining fast implementation and ease-of-use, powerful digital tools are put directly into the hands of the manufacturers’ workforce to uncover new insights and optimize operations in entirely new ways.

Key parts of the solution are low- to no-code in setup and use, and therefore are suitable for a large variety of end users. Built for scale, the solutions allow for template-based rollouts and encourage reuse through standardization. Designed with best practices in mind, manufacturers are enabled to focus precious resources on use cases, instead of the underlying infrastructure.

Manufacturing engineers can visualize and drill down into data using Manufacturing Analytics & Insights, built on Looker’s business intelligence engine. Being integrated with the Manufacturing Data Engine, its automatic configuration provides an up-to-date view into any aspect of manufacturing operations.  From the COO to plant managers and factory engineers, users are enabled to easily browse and explore factory data on the enterprise, factory, line machine, and sensor level.