Basically, a Smart Factory is a set of modular manufacturing facilities where systems and machines are connected through a series of modular devices. These devices in turn enable industrial machinery to adapt and learn their external processes, thus creating a smart factory. In short, it's the next best thing to human assembly lines. With the current advancements in technology, even machines can be networked together to allow for greater efficiency. This is very helpful especially in areas that require fast, frequent changes in products and processes.
The term smart factory is usually used by manufacturers who aim to create a company that is able to produce more with less energy, materials, and manpower. This can help them save on costs while producing quality products. Manufacturers of these types of factories usually consist of several factories that are linked via a series of pipelines and machinery.
It's also known as a value-creation factory because it helps increase the value of the manufacturing sector. Many economists believe that the value creation in any industry is directly related to the number of suppliers available for the product or service. A network of suppliers means that manufacturers will have a large base from which to obtain the needed components to increase the production rate, shorten the supply chain, and improve quality standards.
Origin of Smart Factory
The term smart factory was first coined by the French industry 4.0 think tank. The group made a study on what the future of manufacturing would look like. What they discovered was that companies that embrace smart factory manufacturing processes will experience significant cost savings, as well as increased productivity. They also noted the importance of streamlining processes in an effort to make each process as efficient as possible.
The study also noted that the introduction of smart factories is important in improving the overall efficiency of supply chains, because the increased complexity in factory automation leads to lower rates of error. This is because supply chain processes become less time consuming. Additionally, the presence of several factories online makes it easier for manufacturers to monitor their supply chains and keep abreast of seasonal fluctuations in labor costs. This saves both financial and operational expenses. Connectivity is also a key component in the manufacturing sector, as data from any given factory can easily be transmitted to any other factory.
In order to implement these technologies, it is vital that the manufacturer has a comprehensive strategy. There are many ways to improve the quality of manufacturing processes and provide improved connectivity between factories. These include: automation, information sharing, information management, and remote collaboration. By properly integrating these four technologies, it is possible to produce products that are more cost-effective, innovative, and high quality.
Automation refers to the use of computer software to control the manufacturing processes. The most popular forms of automated factory machines are the assembly line and robots. Assembly line production is still considered inferior to automated robots because robots have the ability to operate in various conditions than humans can. Assembly lines, on the other hand, are considered as one of the most efficient production processes today, especially when using modular production lines. Modularisation is a term used to describe the increasing inter-relatedness of components in modern industries.
Information management refers to the process of transforming information that is essential for the efficient operation of a factory into a system that can be accessed by workers, managers, and executives. Many manufacturing firms use information systems that include scheduling and production data. Information management is crucial to any fully connected factory, as it helps reduce logistics costs. Remote collaboration is another term used to describe a factory's ability to collaborate with other companies and the outside world. Smart factories can work flexibly according to the needs of the customer.