- User Experience for Smart Manufacturing
- Defining UX in an Industrial Context
- Addressing High Standards for UX Design
- How UX Design Supports Industry 5.0 Innovation
- Let UX Solutions Enable Smarter Manufacturing with Stefanini
Many in the technology and manufacturing sectors are familiar with Industry 4.0, a broad term that refers to a cluster of emerging technologies like cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and cognitive/AI computing. The 4th industrial revolution has enabled wide-scale automation in industrial environments with digital tools, supporting integrated real-time communication across plant functions and building flexible manufacturing environments.
Despite the potential these tools offer, manufacturers’ investments and efforts to adopt digital capabilities represent a significant challenge. Plotting a successful transformation roadmap that addresses the timing of financial investments, what technology should be implemented and when, and required enterprise cultural changes demands that each step be tailored to your plant’s distinctive circumstance. A 2020 Industry 4.0 survey by McKinsey of more than 800 businesses globally revealed three major challenge areas: financial hurdles, organizational problems, and technology roadblocks.
In many ways, the roadblocks of Industry 4.0 stem from the emphasis placed on emerging technologies without addressing the needs of User Experience (UX) design. Each industrial environment has unique needs and the digital tools that define Industry 4.0 are not one-size fits all. An effective implementation of new technology must accommodate for how operators interact with these tools and this is at the heart of the next wave of industrial innovation.
User Experience for Smart Manufacturing
Human Machine Interface (HMI) is an old term and in its archaic form simply suggested the series of push buttons operators would use to activate hardware devices. While automations, digital tools, and robotics have fundamentally transformed how the modern factory floor functions, people remain the primary interface between the organization and the plant.
The coming wave of Industry 5.0 will place employees at the center of the production process and focus on UX design, specifically visualization tools, automated or decentralized controls, and information systems. User-friendly cyber-physical systems will rely on intelligent devices and machine learning to collect real-time data delivered through intuitive interfaces that connect human and virtual experiences. All these tools converge at the operator and thus a high quality Operator Experience (OX) remains essential when creating a smart factory and seeing the full benefits of innovation efforts.
Defining UX in an Industrial Context
UX design covers the logic of all user-facing systems across connected devices and interfaces determining how people interact with that technology. The large networks of hardware devices and industrial controls means that industrial UX design is inherently complex. An interface must often must provide real-time status updates on the production line, control panels that manage the machines on the floor, and options for reporting generated from historical production data.
The variety of user interactions and system complexities rise as more tasks are transferred from hardware to software, whether they are carried out locally on a server or on the cloud. UX design must go beyond masking these complexities and provide operators with a clear visual representation of how the production system operates and how data is being generated and managed.
While the layout and visual presentation is pivotal, how an interface manages and presents factory functions is more important (i.e. what data can you input where, how do you export files, etc.). Consequently, the revolution of manufacturing UX must be simple and readily comprehensible without oversimplifying the larger systems at work.
Similarly, the importance industrial UX design grows as in-house supply chain management functions become connected to AI and Analytics functions. Streamlining user experience will enable operators to engage with data insights quickly and collaborate with automated systems in a flexible manner. On ever-changing topics like cost and pricing pressures, operational complexity, capacity, and the global supplier base, among other such measures, robust UX design can easily enable operators comprehend changes and make meaningful decisions.
Addressing High Standards for UX Design
Most if not all modern operators have used a smartphone or tablet. This year, it is predicted that there will be 2.5 billion smartphone users worldwide. This has led to a high level of technical literacy and acquaintance with certain interaction norms among today’s factory workers.
Effective UX design can shorten training periods and increase operator competency, meaning that manufacturers find themselves faced with an outstanding opportunity. The prevalence of consumer products with intelligent design has also raised the standard for what is understand as effective user interface and UX clarity in factory settings.
Employees now anticipate that business interfaces will function just as effectively as their personal smartphones. In order to increase productivity and reduce training time and errors, it is important to develop a user experience (UX) that assists users in creating the appropriate conceptual models from the outset.
How UX Design Supports Industry 5.0 Innovation
Many of the same technologies that drive Industry 4.0 innovations will continue to do so in Industry 5.0. In many instances, these digital tools depend on the implementation of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) connected sensors, and cloud environments.
Here are a few examples of how digital tools optimize manufacturing environments:
- Digital Twins
- Predictive Industrial
- Generative Design
- Raw Material Price Forecasting
- Industrial Robotics
- Edge Analytics
- Process Optimization
- Quality Assurance
- Inventory Management
Manufacturers can benefit from effective integration and intelligent planning provided by a UX-powered supply chain management system. While these technologies are not new to the scene, Manufacturers are starting to find digital integrations more practical for a few reasons:
- They are becoming more powerful due to the growing volumes of data being gathered.
- It is becoming much more practical for planners to incorporate technology into routine decision-making as UX design keeps pace with mathematical frameworks.
- Robust visualization tools create transparency across systems while providing predictive insights.
- Modern technology enables manufactures to create “sandboxes” where they can test various value chain optimization scenarios.
In the Industry 4.0 age, a UX designer should be wary of applications that do not allow for simple visualization and analysis of the production line end-to-end. While Industry 5.0 does not represent a reinvention of the wheel, it does enable operators to interact with complex digital systems with ease. Focusing on UX solutions can serve to reduce production cycle time, improve productivity, and ensure that manufactures see the benefits of industrial digitization.
Let UX Solutions Enable Smarter Manufacturing with Stefanini
As UX design becomes more essential to flexible manufacturing environments, it is vital to connect innovation efforts with the reality of your factory.
With more than 35 years of experience in the Manufacturing Industry, Stefanini Group combines operational excellence, agility, and fresh thinking with our services and solutions to transform traditional operations into smart digital operations while generating outstanding business outcomes.