Switching to a Smart Factory — What Does That Imply?
Mar 15, 2021 17:57
So, we are living the Industry 4.0 and we should enjoy its benefits to the fullest. Living in smart homes is absolutely wonderful and you probably added new smart features ages ago. However, what exactly is a smart factory and what challenges and advantages go with it? Let’s take a look.
The Basic Definition
A smart factory is a plant of the present. It is a unit that embodies communication, production, and information technologies, all intertwined together and you using them to benefit the common goal.
There’s much more to it than just wireless and IoT. A smart factory is about connecting all pieces of the puzzle and taking the cooperation and production to another level. Here is how you can achieve just that.
One of the greatest things about a smart factory is the sensory equipment. Namely, with intelligent sensors, motors, and robotics, recognizing potential hiccups (or disasters) on time has never been easier. The role of the new machines is to pick up the irregularities timely and inspire quick reactions. For instance, a sensitive sensor could detect the signals that a piece of equipment needs maintenance and enable the process to run smoothly owing to a quick fix.
This one goes almost without saying. The main point is enabling connection throughout the whole factory. Naturally, you are still going to need electrical junction boxes, and take great care that the wireless connection goes uninterrupted. Think about the network metrics, for instance - latency, reliability, longevity, and throughput.
Investing in Connection
What sets a smart factory apart from traditional plants is not just high tech, but the connection and collaboration principle. The key to success today is connecting the shop floor with the top floor, production and managers, marketing and engineers.
Collaboration between departments should be planned and encouraged, and at the same time, you should invest in latest generation software that is going to make it possible.
Serious Data Protection
Perhaps even before planning the new investment you should think about the best possible way to prevent data leakage from the smart factory. As the main goal is to share all the information via one network, penetrating the network and accessing valuable data could have enormous consequences. For this reason, a safe and integrated IT network is essential. You can provide this by purchasing the right programs, but above all, have an IT section particularly dedicated to security maintenance and teaching the employees about data protection techniques.
Investing in Talent Pool
In the old days, it seemed like smart factories would be dark factories, filled with machines operating in the dark, as robots would be doing all the work. Yet, we are still far away from the latter. What is true for sure is that the need for simple manual work is diminishing. In contrast, smart factories need people who are skilled and proficient enough to manage complicated processes.
What is more, each smart factory tends to create its original, complex system. For this reason, one should think about the talent pool and recruiting individuals that could become your future employees. As the new technologies keep advancing, it’s hard to find a prospective employee that is already familiar with all the latest tech. Instead, try educating and creating your own talented staff.
How Much Does It All Cost?
Perhaps a better question would be: is it all worth it? The answer is a resounding yes. Owning a smart factory implies constant progress. You cannot have a set of proven techniques and rely on them in the decades to come. A smart factory follows the trends in the mechanical, digital, and communication world, improving itself constantly.
On the bright side, provided you do all that is required and enable excellent collaboration and communication, you will have abundant resources for any investments.
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