At its core, smart factory technology provides operational data in an easily understandable format, making proactive analysis possible without much human involvement. Data storage facilities and additional systems make this possible.
Manufacturing requires collaboration from all departments involved, so each one can reap the rewards of smart factory technologies – this includes IT, its helpdesk, operations and even HR offices.
1. Increased Productivity
Smart factory technology provides companies with numerous advantages that help boost productivity. By automating more processes, reducing manual handling time and improving delivery performance, productivity can be increased exponentially.
By connecting all aspects of value creation and analyzing data, smart factories improve plant utilization and planning accuracy while automating or self-learning industry 4.0 systems can maximize efficiency by preventing production downtime.
Modern technologies like augmented reality make it easier for manufacturing supervisors and authorized employees to capture, access and use digital information quickly and effectively. Augmented reality can even automatically detect problems before they arise – saving inspection times, shortening changeover times and automating quality checks. For smart manufacturing to reach its full potential however, businesses must invest in high return technologies – such as increased wireless and wired connectivity, sensors that collect data centralizedly, new system integration or increased wireless and wired connectivity between units.
2. Lower Costs
Even though updating factory systems with smarter technologies may appear costly, it’s worth taking a close look at their impact on operational efficiency. Smart technology can reduce energy costs; preventive maintenance reduces downtime by detecting issues early and eliminating them before they disrupt production.
Smart manufacturing solutions also provide more centralized data for analysis, which helps teams identify best practices that lead to savings that can be reinvested back into their businesses.
Integration of systems allows facilities to more accurately monitor their entire operation in an integrated fashion, including bill of quantity preparation and cost estimation. As a result, factories gain more insight into how well their factory is doing as well as ways they could be improved upon.
3. Increased Customer Satisfaction
Smart factories can help your company increase customer satisfaction by offering more precise delivery times, identifying disruptions in value-adding processes and increasing plant utilization – ultimately making production more agile. They can also reduce waste and scrap while simultaneously improving quality by automating or streamlining processes to minimize human error and eliminate human error altogether.
Utilizing sensors, predictive maintenance software and computer vision technology, smart factories can accurately predict when equipment will breakdown and schedule maintenance accordingly – thus saving both time and money in maintenance expenses.
Implementing a smart manufacturing strategy can be challenging for manufacturers. Many organizations struggle to cover upfront costs and secure skilled personnel who understand a new way of working. To overcome these difficulties, manufacturers should prioritize use cases that will have immediate benefits rather than trying to implement all capabilities at once.
4. Increased Employee Engagement
Productivity gains generated from smart factory initiatives can boost employee morale and job satisfaction. Furthermore, its flexibility provides greater workforce mobility as well as easier retraining to meet future shifts in demand.
As digital factories evolve, workers must stay abreast of emerging technologies to maintain production efficiency. Investment in employee learning and development ensures employees possess the necessary skills for operating smart factories while taking full advantage of its benefits.
Make sure that you utilize employee listening tools that gather reliable engagement data so you can identify issues and develop action plans to address them effectively. In addition, focus on strengthening communication between corporate and frontline employees.
5. Increased Safety
Smart factories operate like clockwork, with automation and advanced machine learning taking over tedious manual tasks to reduce human error while improving production performance.
No manufacturer enjoys downtime, but operations teams find it especially frustrating. Delays, supply chain disruptions, and missed deadlines are the last things they need!
Predictive maintenance capabilities built into smart factories help avoid these types of issues before they arise, sending alerts directly to team members if a potential issue is detected so they can take appropriate actions immediately.
Operation teams could benefit from smart factory applications in terms of reduced downtime, simplified production processes and better incident response. IT could gain from automated data capture, big data analysis and interoperability between systems while HR would enjoy improved work environments and solutions to overcome worker shortages.
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.