The Smart Factory is a concept for expressing the end goal of digitization in manufacturing. The way the term is most commonly used, a Smart Factory is a highly digitized shop floor that continuously collects and shares data through connected machines, devices, and production systems.
The term describes a highly digitalized and connected environment where machinery and equipment are able to improve processes through automation and self-optimization. The benefits also extend beyond just the physical production of goods and into functions like planning, supply chain logistics, and even product development.
Yet, the core value of the smart factory still happens within the four walls of the plant. The structure of a smart factory can include a combination of production, information, and communication technologies, with the potential for integration across the entire manufacturing supply chain.
All these disparate parts of production can be connected via the IoT (Internet of Things) or other types of advanced integrated circuits (IC’s), which enable sensing, measurement, control, and communication of everything that’s happening throughout the manufacturing process.
“This is nothing less than a paradigm shift in industry: the real manufacturing world is converging with the digital manufacturing world to enable organizations to digitally plan and project the entire lifecycle of products and production facilities.” - Helmuth Ludwig, CEO, Siemens Industry Sector, North America.
The buzz around ‘smart factories’ has been around for a while now, but how do you go about actually creating one? Here we explore what a Smart Factory is and how it can become a reality.
Basically, a Smart Factory is a facility where machinery and systems are linked together by modular devices. These devices then allow industrial equipment to learn and adapt their processes, thereby creating a Smart Factory.
This development is in part due to the rise of ‘Big Data’, which is complex information that traditional data-processing applications are unable to manage effectively. It’s the application of this data, which is generated through the device communication mentioned above, which enables benefits such as predictive maintenance, flexible production and energy measurement.