From factory to data center: The O’Reilly Radar Podcast

Nate Oostendorp on manufacturing and the industrial Internet, and Tim O'Reilly and Rod Smith discuss emerging tech.

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The Industrial Revolution had a profound effect on manufacturing — will the industrial Internet’s effect be as significant? In this podcast episode, Nate Oostendorp, co-founder and CTO of Sight Machine, says yes — where mechanization ruled the Industrial Revolution, data-driven automation will rule this next revolution:

“I think that when you think about manufacturing 20 years from now, the computer and the network is going to be much more fundamental. Your factories are going to look a lot more like data centers do, where there’s a much greater degree of automation that’s driven by the fact that you have good data feeds off of it. You have a lot of your administration of the factory that will be done remotely or in a back office. You don’t necessarily need to have engineers on a floor watching a machine in order to know what’s going on. I think fundamentally, the number of players in a factory will be much smaller. You’ll have much more technical expertise but a fewer number of people overall in a factory setting.”

According to Oostendorp, we’re already seeing the early effects today in an increased focus on quality and efficiency. “We see a lot more plants now which run 24/7 and which have a much higher level of efficiency,” he says. “I would also say the ability to track product quality is much higher. If you think about the previous Industrial Revolution, which was in part based on the Toyota Production System, [founded on the Japanese concept of] Kaizen — that got us to be able to build a car with 30,000 parts and have very, very, low defect rates across a fleet. I think in the next industrial revolution, you may be looking at cars per defect rather than defects per car.”

Oostendorp also talks about the rising importance of machine vision and why equipment makers ultimately will lead the charge toward open standards.

Also in this podcast, Tim O’Reilly sits down with Rod Smith, IBM fellow and vice president of their Emerging Internet Technologies group, for a wide-ranging discussion about human augmentation, the important role open source will play as our emerging technologies develop, and how business models are going to change.

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