Table of Contents
Smart Factories–Current Scenario
•Smart factories will converge different technologies, which will be able to provide advanced software systems, high degree of automation and advanced infrastructure design.
•Convergence of technologies in smart factories will be focused on increasing production efficiency by reducing cost and achieving the desired quality product with minimal wastage and monitoring supply chain in real-time.
•Factories of the future will incorporate latest technologies for industrial automation, which would result in the improved quality of finished products and efficient use of energy.
•The gap between the real and digital world will be significantly smaller with the help of technology enabling connected factories of future.
•Smart factories will enable manufacturing companies to remain competitive by meeting challenges, such as global competition, short product life-cycles, and the growing market and factory demands.
•Technologies that enable smart factories will create energy-efficient, highly productive manufacturing sites that would result in quality products.
•At present, large investments are being made to implement smart factories in Europe. The emergence of smart manufacturing process systems will be evident in the next 3 to 4 years in factories around Europe. Other regions, such as Asia and North America, are involved in similar transformations.
•The concept of smart factories may seem to pose challenges for realization, but it is expected that changes will occur in the next 5 years.
•Technologies that are already being used to improve the capabilities of production systems, such as sensors, ultrafast lasers, augmented reality, three-dimensional (3D) printers, and machine vision systems, will have a more significant impact on smart factories.
- Manufacturers need to visualize the production process, which is getting complex day by day. From a central vantage point, manufacturing plants need to be monitored and controlled to achieve maximum flexibility. It further requires unified governance and execution, and for every aspect of operations and strategy, there should be clear visibility. Each and every manufacturing plant should contribute better performance.
- Efficient resource management across all plants leads to dissolute information flow. To give coordinators a clear picture of plant activity and capacity, manufacturing execution systems (MES) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) must work together.
- Global value chains and production should be leveraged for success. The goods should be able to reproduce across the entire factory ecology system. Factories should be able to make anything anywhere. Smart factories should be able to use their resources with flexibility (for example, re-routing orders depending on local constraints and demands).
- By achieving collaboration among R&D, production, and sales, the number of iterations in products can be reduced, and the organization can proactively meet requirements in product development.
- Advanced IT helps to achieve real-time decision-making, provide guidance in product development. In addition, advanced IT also helps to achieve constant, efficient and reliable data streams. Smart factories also demand an ability to combine and analyze high volumes of complex data delivered through multiple, dynamically interrelated sources.
Manufacturers’ major concern is to lower energy consumption and reduce environmental impact. Governments and environmental organizations across the world are strengthening the norms for environmental conservation. Innovative technologies enabled by smart factories will serve as the key enablers for environmental protection.
Technologies enabling smart factories will create opportunities for the development of new products, which are highly customized to address customer-specific needs.
At every level in factories, sensors and real-time intelligence can help manufacturers to view all aspects of the production lines and increase their capability to take instant actions to produce more output with higher quality, and thus support operational and business agility, which further leads to low downtime.
Smart factories will monitor the usage and consumption of energy, and use renewable and other sources of energy. Factories of Future will produce more efficiently and address the increasing demand for goods and scarcity of resources.
The technology enabling smart factories, such as machine to machine communications, cloud computing, sensor fusion among others, are already becoming available and more established; and there is a continuous development in research for advancing these technologies.
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