Introduction of smart factory technologies must be handled carefully. It may make sense to start small with initiatives that improve operations in tangible and measurable ways.
At this level, data are accessible but inconvenient to use. Engineers must manually combine information from multiple systems for analysis – an arduous and time-consuming task which reduces their value as tools for future analysis.
Smart factories rely on various key technologies in order to deliver on their promised benefits, including cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), big data analytics, digital twin and cyber-physical systems.
Many companies have already implemented automation and digital technology into their processes, but it has yet to become fully integrated. Smart factory solutions can bring these disparate systems together for greater automation and operational efficiency.
Step one is establishing a central location that constantly collects and tracks real-time production data, such as via cloud connectivity allowing visibility across your factory.
At this level, it is possible to analyze data and detect patterns of fault in production equipment, enabling you to address potential issues before they become major issues and reduce costly downtime. You may be able to do this effectively using smart factory industry 4.0 solutions with AI/ML capabilities to automate analysis process and provide prescriptive recommendations.
As part of the fourth industrial revolution, smart factories enable automated and connected processes utilizing digital technologies. Such connectivity requires a reliable network with high connection density to support real-time data transmission.
Manufacturing businesses can benefit greatly from using sensor-based IoT technology in manufacturing to increase efficiency and quality while decreasing costs and downtime by quickly identifying and solving potential issues before they escalate further. Furthermore, this enables better production scheduling and inventory control.
Smart factory technologies can reduce changeover time and unplanned downtime, improve product quality, and ensure machines are operating at full capacity. However, it’s essential that companies work with experienced integration partners who know how to secure these technologies so their business can take full advantage of these benefits without risking security breaches that could thwart digital transformation goals. Partnering with experienced integrators also provides businesses with support in creating and scaling up smart factory systems.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) takes smart factory technologies to an entirely new level of automation and performance. AI tools enable rapid analysis, interpretation and action taken on vast amounts of data that would otherwise take too much effort or time to process manually.
These advanced systems facilitate various manufacturing operations. These include industrial robots that augment skilled workers, logistics robots for picking inventory in warehouses and factory floor automation that enables quality inspection systems to recognize defects more quickly.
Companies looking to adopt smart factories must first assess their needs and goals. Some may require investing in entirely new systems while others will gain benefits by optimizing existing ones. Every successful smart factory initiative should provide concrete improvements such as increasing manufacturing flexibility or quality. Consumer expectations also contribute rapidly to smart factory adoption as they demand fast deliveries with responsive service, leading to ever more supply chain automation needs.
Sensors and monitoring devices collect factory equipment data, while smart machines use that information to recognize trends and problems in real time, helping engineers reduce downtime by anticipating inclement weather or spikes in production demand. This allows for proactive responses by engineers when unexpected situations arise – like unexpected increases in production demand.
Machine learning has the capability of recognizing patterns associated with machine failures and can predict when maintenance may be required before any fault arises, helping reduce downtime costs while increasing overall efficiency.
No matter whether you are seeking to upgrade existing systems or invest in brand new technology, the ideal place to begin is with an evaluation of your goals and an examination of how smart manufacturing can assist. Your goal should be to create a more dynamic production environment by automating workflows and using advanced analytics to understand and optimize business processes; by identifying potential areas for improvement you can realize long-term productivity gains while keeping costs in check. Plex can help take digital transformation further with its single connected solution offering.
Deepak Wadhwani has over 20 years experience in software/wireless technologies. He has worked with Fortune 500 companies including Intuit, ESRI, Qualcomm, Sprint, Verizon, Vodafone, Nortel, Microsoft and Oracle in over 60 countries. Deepak has worked on Internet marketing projects in San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange Country, Denver, Nashville, Kansas City, New York, San Francisco and Huntsville. Deepak has been a founder of technology Startups for one of the first Cityguides, yellow pages online and web based enterprise solutions. He is an internet marketing and technology expert & co-founder for a San Diego Internet marketing company.