What is a smart factory?
Smart manufacturing is defined by the United States of America’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), as “fully integrated, collaborative manufacturing systems that respond immediately to changing demands and conditions in the factory and supply network and customer needs”.
Industry 4.0 is the fourth industrial revolution. Smart factories are a result of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, in which technologies such as big data, the Industrial Internet of Things, and AI/machine learning are driving digital manufacturing transformations. The ultimate goal of digitization is a smart factory.
Smart factories have high levels of complex manufacturing automation. This allows for the running of manufacturing processes without any human intervention. This automation is enabled by industrial IoT technologies, which include hardware (sensors and actuators) as well as software (big data and machine learning tools).
Also read: How to Start A Manufacturing Business
Benefits of a smart factory
Agile production process
A Smart factory allows manufacturers to adapt quickly to changing client requirements, budgets, and product quality requirements. This is possible because of the connectivity between multiple systems (e.g., an IIoT Solution, ERP, -MES, CMS, SCM, and powerful data analytics capabilities.
Increased efficiency in manufacturing operations
This network of sensors can collect data about production, environment, and equipment. The cloud software analyzes this data in real-time. This allows manufacturers to quickly adjust parameters, such as the operating conditions of their equipment. The sensor-generated data can be further analyzed to identify trends and improve opportunities throughout the production process.
Increased reliability in manufacturing operations
High-level automation reduces the chance of human error in manufacturing operations in smart factories.
Improved product quality
AI technology is used in smart factories to control quality. Cameras equipped with computer vision algorithms detect defects instantly, and advanced analytics software can identify the problem.
Increased visibility to shop floor operations
IIoT gives manufacturers greater visibility to shop floor operations through continuous real-time updates about production operations and the status of industrial assets.
Data security can be ensured by access control, at-rest and transit encryption, access control, and AI-powered detection and prevention of unusual user activity in a smart factory.
The IIoT allows data to be transmitted to the cloud in near real-time about various parameters of equipment that determine its health and performance. It is combined with metadata and fed to machine learning algorithms that help identify abnormal patterns. It is possible to anticipate equipment failures and take appropriate measures.
Increased worker safety
Robots can take over dangerous jobs from human workers.
Also read: Digital Supply Chain: Definition, Important, and Risks
Smart factory technology
Cloud platforms such as AWS and Azure allow large data to be securely processed, stored, and analyzed.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
RFID can be used to track industrial equipment, machinery, inventory, and finished goods, as well as objects, workers, and objects in smart factories.
This technology allows for the continuous collection, storage, and analysis of large quantities of production-related information.
Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI).
AI and ML can be used to automate the entire production process, equipment monitoring, and many other tasks. These technologies also enable advanced analytics insights, such as predictive maintenance and detection of quality improvement opportunities.
Make your manufacturing process more efficient
It is a huge undertaking that will require significant time and financial investments. ScienceSoft recommends that you go in iterations to make the transition smooth and quickly gain value. It may be possible, to begin with, cloud-based big-data storage. This will provide insight into production planning, management, and industrial asset management.