Integration of mobile technology is allowing many factories to streamline workflows and improve bottom lines. Through this and other ways, factories are becoming smarter. Manufacturing Engineering lists five major benefits that many smart factories are seeing in their operations.
What do you think of when you hear the word factory? Probably some huge space, with machines humming and personnel walking around with notepads in their hands. The reality is different. Factories are getting smarter as they are now fully integrated and collaborative manufacturing systems that can respond in real time to changing demands. They are equipped with intelligent tools such as industrial weighing scales and sensors that are changing the manufacturing scene. Here are five benefits of smart factories:
In a smart factory, you can optimize different assets and use them to their maximum potential. You can identify the location and gauge the performance of the equipment, people and resources in real time. This allows making inventory changes whenever required. It also means optimizing assets and tapping into the synergy of all the resources working in sync. As a result, you can gain important advantages in both higher productivity and increased revenue.
Smart factories link data systems, control systems and physical systems, which reduces the time lag in a production process. They bridge the gap between control systems and their on-premise implementation, thus bringing together digital and physical systems. This results in increased efficiency and optimal utilization of all the resources within the factory. The output of smart factories is significantly higher than in traditional ones, and they achieve this within the shortest time possible.
When plants follow reactive maintenance rather than preventive maintenance, they waste resources like money, effort and time. The impact of reactive maintenance is minimized by proactively implementing predictive maintenance. The latter warns workers when a machine’s performance is going down. This helps employees take measures to fix the problem before equipment breaks. As a result, downtime is cut and losses avoided that occur due to machine malfunctions.
By connecting the supply chain with the production facility, you can create a dynamic workflow that provides necessary information to all team members. This promotes collaboration within the team, increases productivity and enables smooth operations throughout the manufacturing process.
Smart factories allow supervisors and employees to move around the floor and access data from any system. This increases their productivity and boosts creativity. It provides opportunities for the team to design and implement new ideas and solutions. Here are key examples of the impact of smart factories.
- Use real-time production and inventory data to plan and schedule in advance. This helps minimize waste and cycle time.
- Additive manufacturing produces low-volume spare parts and rapid prototypes.
- Cognitive and autonomous robots can effectively execute all routine processes with high accuracy and low costs.
- Autonomous robots can execute all warehouse operations.
- Augmented reality can help employees with pick-and-place tasks.
- Sensors could track real-time movement and location of raw materials and finished goods.
- Smart factories use analytics to improve inventory management and signal when to stock up the warehouse.