What is the smart factory? The impact of Factory 4.0 on manufacturing (2023)

As the idea of ​​smart, connected manufacturing gains traction, it can be difficult to compete in the Industry 4.0 world unless you are on the cusp of innovation.

With the growing economic impact of the IIoT around the world, many professionals and investors are wondering if the industry is on the brink of a technology revolution. But judging by the numbers and predictions, there is tangible, concrete evidence that the idea of ​​smart manufacturing has already entered corporate consciousness. According to IDC, global spending on theInternet of Thingsby 2020, it is projected to exceed $840 billion if it maintains the compound annual growth rate of 12.6% year-over-year. There is no doubt that a large part of these expenses goes towards the introduction ofInternet of Thingsin all sectors, especially in the manufacturing industry.

However, it is not just predictions and statistics that state that the idea of ​​the Industrial Internet of Things is gaining ground in almost all sectors of the economy. IIoT has proven to be a critical point in manufacturing, providing the reliability of themachine to machinecommunication, the safety of preventive maintenance and the vision of big data analysis. In other words, the IIoT revolution has already begun.

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What is the smart factory?

Before we turn to the intricacies of the Smart Factory, a few words must be said about its underlying concept, the Industrial Internet of Things. While the idea has been around for a while, it's still not obvious to everyone exactly what it entails and what all of its aspects are. Just as the regular Internet of Things aims to empower our daily lives by connecting devices and making them interact and work together to provide us with easier and faster solutions to our everyday problems (remember smart coffee makers?), the IIoT is the same concept, but applied . to entire companies, such as production, service or trading companies. So what we need to talk about a true IIoT implementation is not just machine-to-machine communication, but also bridging the gap between physical and digital assets within a factory and reducing human-machine collaboration through the introduction of smart technology. . Automation and machine learning.

A smart factory is a concept derived from the IIoT that understands a production environment as a network of fully automated and intelligent systems that allows managing the plants, machines and logistics chains within the production facility without human intervention. Furthermore, a smart factory is a place where all this happens thanks to the exchange of data not only between production tools and machines, but also between all elements of the technological production chain. This, in turn, drives machine learning to run operations more efficiently and generate more savings than would be possible if production processes were left solely under human supervision.

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What is the impact of the smart factory on companies?

There would be no exaggerations or double-digit growth estimates surrounding the Factory 4.0 concept, were it not for the benefits that the adoption of intelligent manufacturing processes can bring to any business. Creating a dynamic production environment through the application of automation and intelligence improves reliability, efficiency and security while reducing operating costs and downtime. Let's take a closer look at how this is done within the smart factory concept.

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Whether fully manual or fully automated, every manufacturing process needs to be monitored to be controlled, effective and safe. Hence the efforts ofIoT projectsIn this industry, they must focus on overseeing operations at all levels and collecting relevant data from machines or plants that would otherwise be just isolated equipment without the ability to coordinate and control their own workflow.

But what the communication and interaction between the production tools bring to the process is more than improved tracking and monitoring capabilities. Based on smart factory production strategies, improvements can be introduced in real time, quickly leading to production cycle optimization. Furthermore, the more automated and controllable a process is, the less prone to human error, which not only increases productivity by reducing downtime or maintenance costs, but also improves the quality of the final product.

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Smart factory solutions can also be useful in production hall logistics. Thanks towireless network sensorWhen connecting machines, tools, materials or any production surface, e.g. B. conveyor belts, all equipment involved in the manufacturing processes can be tracked in real time, providing operators with a complete view of the entire production chain. Based on this, the use of equipment and logistics within the factory can be optimized for maximum capacity. Decision-making can also be improved thanks to the knowledge gained about the potential of each asset.

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Data collection and analysis is a crucial concept in the Factory 4.0 concept as it reveals the hidden potential of the team, resources and people.

In the smart factory, data can get to the right place in the production chain, at the right time, without a human supervisor needing to mediate. This allows for a more immediate interaction model, where machines and tools freely share information with each other to achieve higher levels of efficiency.

But to achieve this, data from different production contexts must not only be collected, but also integrated and analyzed to provide meaningful insights. A powerful Factory 4.0 data analysis environment is capable of this, which may eventually lead to the development of a comprehensive preventive maintenance engine that keeps processes running despite wear-related defects through regular equipment exploration and operation. In addition, data processing can help develop strategies to reduce material and energy consumption and optimize asset utilization.

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Despite the abundance of technology that a Factory 4.0 can be equipped with, it can still remain human-centric. What's more, it can be more employee-friendly precisely because it's smarter and more autonomous. Why is that? Because the more controlled and predictable the production environment, the less dangerous it poses to the employees who oversee, operate and maintain its components. With direct and instant information from data analysis systems, employees can identify the weakest links in the production chain and react proactively when anomalies are detected.

Thanks to the technology that the smart factory brings, the system can also track the workers themselves and alert them to possible dangers when they enter certain predefined risk zones. One of the best solutions of its kind on the market is offered on the AVSystem Coyote IoT Data Orchestration platform. For more information please contact usImprove your factory with employee safety.

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Personalization in the production area is undoubtedly one of the paths that the industry is currently following. Growing consumer demands are fueling the trend in the manufacturing industry towards greater flexibility in production.

Steps to introduce flexibility into production, such as B. the use of new materials or new manufacturing techniques should be facilitated by experience and knowledge gained from big data collected in the manufacturing flow tracking process. As a result, intelligent production plants can reach a new level of adaptability and meet the ever-changing demands of the customer market.

Furthermore, by minimizing the downtime required for equipment upgrades and reconfigurations, manufacturers can maintain the efficiency of their production process, becoming more flexible and ready for new market challenges.

Implementing Factory 4.0 with AVSystem

In fact, the concrete implementation of the smart factory largely depends on the special characteristics and individual requirements of the respective production environment. But there are software solutions like AVSystem's Coyote IoT data orchestration platform that can handle many specific types of hardware and cover a variety of different deployment scenarios.

As the physical base of every Smart Factory,sensorsThey are needed throughout the production plant to monitor equipment condition, collect and analyze data, and use the resulting insights to optimize production. But for sensors to be able to perform all these types of operations, there needs to be a platform to deploy and manage them so that they can collect data and present it in an intuitive and user-friendly way.

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With the smart factory concept in mind, Coyote IoT Data Orchestration by AVSystem introduced a new manufacturing monitoring and data collection solution to respond to the growing market demand.

The sensors transmit the collected data via Bluetooth Low Energy Gateways, which can be installed in different locations in the plant. The data is then transmitted to the platform, which allows system operators to track the location and status of connected assets in real time through data visualizations. These, in turn, help in quick decision-making processes, essential in case of emergencies in production or in the strategic management of assets.

Providing an additional level of security in a smart factory is mentionedPanikknöpfethat any worker can use. They can be used as an alternative way, when the employee is in a situation of danger, to immediately inform his superiors about a potential danger.

Smart factory: the conclusion

The smart factory solution is aimed at manufacturers who want to use the potential of their resources, employee skills and time to gain a competitive advantage. It is true that taking the idea of ​​Factory 4.0 and bringing it to life requires investment, effort and strategy. But considering all the benefits a fully automated smart factory can bring, the impact of a well-implemented smart factory solution should pay off in the long run, putting its first users at the forefront of the Factory 4.0 revolution.

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