Prime Aspects to Consider Before Designing a Smart Factory
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Prime Aspects to Consider Before Designing a Smart Factory

By Manufacturing Technology Insights | Thursday, November 28, 2019

From the smallest node to the complex robotic system, a smart factory relies on connectivity. It is the foundation on which everything else is built; it enables the seamless transfer of data across all levels of the factory, supply chain, and enterprise.

FREMONT, CA: In recent years, the surfacing of Industry 4.0 has been progressively transforming the manufacturing division into an ultra-high-tech industry. Innovative smart technologies like robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), the IoT, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), sensors, and machine vision are potent tools that most companies are starting to incorporate into their business practices and manufacturing techniques.

Key Features of a Smart Factory

At its center, the smart factory employs a combination of technologies to cast the conventional automation process into a synergetic ecosystem, which brings together all aspects of the business comprising operations, processes, supply chain, and beyond. Eventually, this results in a dynamic, flexible, and optimized system.

Below are fundamental concepts that drive both the physical and digital mechanisms of the smart factory.

Connectivity 

From the smallest node to the complex robotic system, a smart factory relies on connectivity. It is the foundation on which everything else is built; it enables the seamless transfer of data across all levels of the factory, supply chain, and enterprise. Regardless of whether one is building a new factory or upgrading the present one, the design phase should be channeled by the concepts of data collection and connectivity. With this event in mind, manufacturers need to focus on how to employee technologies like cloud computing, sensors, and the IoT in their designs.

Sensors can be used in a wide variety of applications comprising monitoring machinery, identifying inefficient energy usage, detecting hazardous conditions within the facility, and tracking inventory. These sensors are intended to collect data 24/7 and deliver it to a visualization network, which helps users in assessing the information and drawing ensuing conclusions on how and where to enhance their system.

When connected to digital technologies such as cloud computing and the IoT, sensors can gather data from all corners of the facility and assemble to offer manufacturers with a 360° view of the factory, recognizing all issues at once at any given moment. Such interconnectivity can allow monitoring from a smart device; besides, manufacturers can even understand issues without being physically present in the factory.

Optimization 

Optimization refers to the execution of digital analytical tools in an attempt to curtail the need for human intervention while concurrently increasing productivity and competence. These tools mix the impact of data collection and connectivity technologies.

By considering the potential integration of machine learning platforms, artificial intelligence, big data, the digital supply network, manufacturers can mechanically handle and capitalize on efficient production across a broad range of processes without the need for human intervention.

When approaching the design stage of a smart factory, manufacturers need to consider how these technologies can be leveraged for them, particularly. Furthermore, manufacturers are required to think about how the process, enterprise, operations, and supply chain can all be streamlined into a single, networked system.

Together, the technologies can effortlessly manage processes like advanced planning and scheduling, predictive inventory analysis, automated paperwork processing, increased supply chain transparency and traceability, predictive maintenance, and more. Not only is such optimization cost-effective, but it also considerably decreases risks associated with a human error while freeing up workers to tackle more sophisticated tasks.

While designing a new smart factory or even incorporating smart essentials into an existing plant can seem like a daunting process. Still, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages by creating efficient, lean systems that augment production, lower costs, and enhance business practices.

Smart technologies do much more than improve automation processes. When designed correctly, they blend information and operations technologies to create highly interconnected, agile systems. These networks are not only capable of boosting up all aspects of service along with the business.

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