All You Need to Know About The Smart Factory Requirements

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All You Need to Know About The Smart Factory Requirements

So what do we know about Smart Factory requirements?  The pioneering researchers and practitioners do provide guidelines for the industry’s reference. A smart factory on earth is a manufacturing facility – highly digitized and fully connected though. Hence some basic elements will form the base to the future-proven production.


Smart Factory Requirements

Integrated data and processes

The requirement refers to both vertical and horizontal integration. As a Smart Factory is the heart of Industry 4.0, both information technologies (IT) and manufacturing technologies (OT) will be implemented across the geographically disparate sites and between the manufacturing company and other firms across the entire value chain. By horizontally integrating various information systems, the manufacturer will be able to make a smooth transition to a cyber-physical system based production with deep interconnection and data exchange. Regarding vertical integration, the Industrial IOT enables the instantaneous access to both IT and production systems. Through the framework named “digital thread” data and information is directly extracted from the shop floor by controlling devices and sensors way up to the corporate board room. Data is appropriately processed at various hierarchy levels through production, automation, operations management and corporate management.

Multi-skilled workforce

The Smart Factory has created an unprecedented operations list with much increased automation never witnessed before. The workers on today’s shop floor have to face the fact that their tasks will likely disappear in the near future, replaced with new ground and new rules. These can include decision making, supervision, maintenance, programming, or performing a collaborative task or process together with robots. This new paradigm requires the new generation of workers to look beyond the current job scope, and take into account the bigger picture of enterprise, partner eco-system and, end-user satisfaction. In addition, new responsibilities bring up new opportunities of lifelong learning to both working staff and corporate management. All these elements will form the base to support sustainable operations for future manufacturers.

Cyber security

Cyber security has never been a new concept since the Industry 4.0 initiative was brought in people’s eyes. Due to the legacy of manufacturing, Industry 4.0 changes the cybersecurity landscape. On the other hand, cybersecurity has become the main enabler of Industry 4.0. A fully connected factory with smart devices and smart networks can be exposed under major attack risk and requires robust solutions to protect hyper-connected systems from unauthorized access and damages as potential consequences. In this regard, cyber security has become a part of corporate strategy to focus on and commit to that supports the sophisticated functions in smart factory operations.

Smart product

Going beyond the classic definition, a smart product stands for a data collection and processing tool with interactive functions. A smart product provides all information required for the production processes, identifying itself to the available modules in the current environment. For example, RFIDs are attached to the product to make product-related information recognisable for and accessible to warehouse inspectors. Thereby shortening operation times tremendously. Smart products nurture and expedite the new business models by providing data-driven services, and create intelligent cross-selling & up-selling opportunities for a smart factory.

After-sale services

This requirement reflects the expanded concept of manufacturing in Industry 4.0. Since after-sales service is shifting from a purely transactional model to service level guarantee model (such as SLA or subscription-based service), after a product is built and sold, the value chain won’t be complete until manufacturers offer and sell related services. Enabled by advanced manufacturing technologies, manufacturing companies will be able to deliver predictive maintenance, hence improve the product uptime and profitability.

Drivers & Enablers of Smart Factory

The push toward the adoption of smart factories and Industry 4.0 approaches to manufacturing is a reaction to these business trends.

  • An increasingly complex global supply chain
  • Global fragmentation of demand and production
  • Increasing pressure from competitors and unexpected sources
  • Constant labour challenges

Several important technology enablers complement these trends:

  • More powerful computing and analytical capabilities.
  • Newly developed “stems” of smart assets.
  • Cloud-based data storage and management services.

When used together in a product design-to-customer environment, these advances enable smart factory processes, which learn from real-time production, logistics, and marketing data. This capability allows smart factories to operate in a more proactive, responsive, and predictable manner.

Not sure where to start?

Visit our Machine Digitalization Solution page to understand how we help companies embark on a Digital Transformation Journey. Book a virtual meeting or a consultation with us to understand more using the above link!

Written by Colin Koh, Senior Business Development Manager, Industry 4.0 Consultant. This Industry 4.0 Article Series is aimed to enlightened readers about everything they need to know about Industry 4.0 and its application about technologies and benefits to companies and consumers.

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