Microsoft Surface is reinventing manufacturing by introducing new innovations that have sparked collaboration and productivity in an industry that is still reliant on manual processes
A garage in suburban Canberra, Australia, seems like an unlikely place to run a manufacturing line, but Red Robot Photo Booths has managed to produce customized photo booths for over 500 businesses in Australia and in 21 countries.
Last year, the company helped its customers achieve revenue of over AU$65 million with nothing more than a lean set-up powered by Microsoft Surface. The hybrid device has supercharged Red Robot’s ability to deliver photo booths to their customers by digitizing their manufacturing processes, greatly lowering their production times from ideation to completion.
Manufacturing has traditionally been a labor and resource intensive industry. From ideation to production, to finally bringing the product in the hands of the customers, requires high capital output, meticulous planning, and lots of time. However, the industry is facing mounting challenges such as rising costs, workforce changes and output pressures due to market demands.
It is no surprise that many manufacturers have turned to technology as a potential cure for their headaches. With the right blend of devices, apps and services, today’s manufacturing organizations can empower employees to collaborate more effectively and optimize production processes in real-time.
For Red Robot Photo Booths, this essentially boils down to – reinventing their operations through digitizing blueprints with the versatile Microsoft Surface 2-in-1 device, boosting productivity and creativity with a multi-touch screen and powerful Surface Pen, and relying on the trusted Windows 10 operating system to smoothly run all mission critical apps.
Reimagining the manufacturing process with a (Surface) Pen
While the manufacturing industry is perceived to be high-tech, many industry players today are still highly reliant on manual processes like paper and pen in their modelling processes. This approach meant more time required for edits, as approvals needed to be sought across different parties, including partners and customers. These sketches and drafts can also result in misunderstanding when clients and designers have a mismatch of vision and perception of the finished product. The result is several rounds of costly and time-consuming iterations and reiterations.
Microsoft Surface eradicates the guesswork and inefficiencies from this process. With striking true-to-life color, the high-resolution PixelSense Display, Surface Pro and Surface Book is designed to be viewed, touched and written on, streamlining both the design and the reviewing processes.
With the Surface Pen, engineers, partners and customers can collaborate easily by marking on shared, digital files hosted on a trusted and secure cloud platform such as OneDrive. More importantly, it creates the freedom for companies to collaborate in a more effective and efficient manner.
Apps Designed for Manufacturing
The manufacturing industry is highly reliant on proprietary software and applications in their process lifecycle. Any device introduced into the organization must thus provide appropriate support for specific app and file requirements.
The Windows operating system is already home to a wide variety of software and apps used in manufacturing and engineering, such as AutoDesk AutoCAD 360, Apriso for Manufacturing and many more. Recent updates to these apps also add cutting edge features that improves 3D rendering, inking and even real-time collaboration across work teams.
With the assistance of these familiar apps in a familiar operating system environment, manufacturing companies find it easier to create, visualize and bring their products to market within a shorter timeframe. Employees will also be more productive as they feel at home with software that they’ve used their entire professional lives.
Aerospace contractor Orbital ATK, for example, has replaced 2D engineering drawings with 3D digital models running in Siemens JT2Go software on Surface Pro. As JT is the most widely used, lightweight 3D file format for Product Life Management (PLM), Orbital ATK needed a device that supported the application, but also a device that could unshackle their engineering teams from their tables.
While the team explored the use of an iPad, they soon realized that iOS was not able to support a full suite of features on JT2Go which was necessary for their line of work. With Windows and Surface, Orbital ATK was able to provide its employees with the power and portability to be productive anywhere, anytime, while supporting specific technology requirements for their line of work.
A key measure of success was how quickly Orbital ATK’s employees were able to move to a fully digital operation with Surface. In addition, Orbital ATK’s suppliers largely accepted the change, in part due to the free JT2Go app which did not require them to purchase additional software licenses.
Ready for business, anywhere
For the manufacturing industry to truly reinvent itself, it requires devices that delivers an ideal balance of craftsmanship, performance and versatility. Here’s why the Surface family of devices can provide the perfect fit:
- The Surface Pro 4 is a highly portable Windows hybrid device that packs a punch with Intel® Core™ processors and up to 1TB of lightning fast SSD storage to support power-intensive apps and software required. It is incredibly mobile with an ultrathin form factor which that transforms into a full laptop experience when the Type Cover is snapped on. Surface Pro 4 unshackles field employees from their work desks, and empowers them to be productive anytime, anywhere – especially for professionals who are out and about meeting clients, partners and prospects.
- The Surface Book*, on the other hand, is a great workhorse that is built for extreme performance thanks to a boost in graphics power. For example, the Surface Book Intel® Core™ i7 is engineered to meet the needs for demanding design and 3D modelling apps; while the new Surface Book with Performance Base delivers increased speed and performance and up to 16 hours of battery life – which makes it easier for engineers to render their designs in 3D.
- And for manufacturing companies looking for a collaboration device to modernize their work streams, the Surface Hub* is a large screen, multi-touch device that is built for teamwork. Not only does it support Microsoft apps such as Office and Skype for collaboration and productivity, it is also a great platform for large-screen apps, and supports large-screen apps such as 3D modelling tools where teams can examine in greater detail the nuts and bolts of each drafts.
Find out more about how other organizations are transforming their manufacturing processes in these short videos:
- US-based Coffman Engineers choose Surface Pro: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CySsFHgKa0g
- Designer and engineer Philip Norman turns to Surface Pro for his creation process: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZ55XNWuyUw
For more information on Surface for Businesses, visit https://www.microsoft.com/surface/en-sg/business/overview
* Available in selected markets. Please check with your local Microsoft authorized resellers for details.