Smart factory : transformation towards the intelligent factory

28 октября 2021 г.

In the supply chain, the evolution and transformation of tools are pushing companies to strengthen themselves through automation and digitalization. Today, it is necessary to know how to use the Internet to understand data that we get from it and no longer limit ourselves to a minimal use of it. Previously, it was stored locally and analyzed once the problem occurred, but factories must now anticipate and become intelligent.

What is Smart Factory ?

 

Smart Manufacturing is an approach that aims to progressively integrate technological tools and connected machines into the production process and the rest of the Supply Chain. The objective is to automate operations to improve productivity and the overall company performance.

 

The factory becomes smart when it goes through the process of digitizing its tools and operating methods. Most of operations are now controlled by machines with integrated sensors and proactive management software that rely on the use of artificial intelligence, Big Data or even the Internet of Things to advance decisions by anticipating problems.

 

The latest uses of digital technology in production control and warehouse organization define the concept of the smart factory.

What Smart Factory brings to your company ? 

 

Smart factory tends towards a system of organization that allows it to be agile and flexible to foresee a level of production according to the demand and to correspond to the needs of the Supply Chain without making mistakes, to avoid technical shutdowns of machines, and to consult the worker as little as possible.

 

The machines of the smart factory are no longer limited to simple and rigid actions. Now they can integrate into their environment by being versatile. Cobots or collaborative robots are easier to handle than traditional robots and replace workers for uniform and repetitive tasks: extracting and inserting pallets into shelves, moving merchandise in the warehouse, picking orders, etc.  

 

Intelligent sensors and robots offer many advantages to the operation of the factory. Order adjustments based on stock levels are fast since we have a complete view of data in real time. This accelerates delivery times to the customer, whose satisfaction is greater. 

 

With the automation of warehouse tasks, the smart factory contributes to the improvement of the health and safety of the worker by avoiding dangerous tasks. Even if new risks are to be considered, such as collision with machines, work accidents and musculoskeletal disorders are reduced.  

 

Processes are accelerated and optimized so that there are as few errors and maintenance interventions as possible, this leaves time to think about products, customer needs and new opportunities. The smart factory is therefore a real time and organization saver.

 

To achieve these results here are some tools: 

 

  • IIoT (Internet of Industrial Objects): real-time monitoring of objects in the factory thanks to intelligent sensors placed in the supply chain that enables rapid and relevant interventions,
  • Digital twins: representations of machines and other factory objects, or even factory buildings, that allow simulations and forecasts that do not involve real objects. It does not waste time and it protects against errors,
  • Assistive systems: they take the burden off employees by making routine and physical tasks less difficult, so that they have more time to make decisions,
  • The exploitation of Big Data: services and machines used create a large amount of data that is the basis for maintaining and improving the level of technologies used in the company.

Focus : Data management in the smart factory 

 

As said above, Big Data is necessary to strengthen the productivity of the company. It is therefore important that such data is retrieved, processed, and analyzed to be considered as key elements in decision making.

 

To monitor the activity of its Supply Chain, spot errors and gain in prediction, data is a real gold mine. To remain relevant despite the large amount of data, you must know how to collect and keep the right data. This includes data from your entire Supply Chain (article and customer references, information on your logistics network, etc.), data that is already available to you, and exogenous data (external to the company, which belongs to your environment all the same).

 

The collected data must be diagnosed to proceed to the Supply Chain analyses by creating KPIs to be precise and consider the maximum of criteria. This data is increasingly relevant and necessary for the implementation of new technologies in your plant, to make it intelligent.

The transition : how to make your factory smart

 

  • Learn how to use your data. Big Data has been found to be a powerful tool that you can't do without when it comes to transforming your factory into a smart factory. Collect, sort, and analyze your data to predict and organize your future actions.
  • Connect your objects. The whole factory must be connected, each machine and tool must send you information in real time so that you can then exchange with the whole Supply Chain, without errors but precision. To do this, it requires an alliance with technology, new services, and software.
  • Make your machines autonomous. Delegate some of your tasks to the machines and let them make decisions. Your processes are profoundly changed, and you have more time for decision making and strategy choices, things that are not traditional or administrative tasks.
  • Adapt jobs. Since AI, IoT and other technologies are named responsible for new tasks, consider revising each job with new capabilities and responsibilities.
  • Protect your environment. More technology and connection between your devices and machines in the factory mean more risk of attacks, dangerous and far-reaching. Machines, software and outsourced processes, everything that is connected is subject to attack. It is therefore necessary to consider a strengthening of security mechanisms regarding the intelligent transition of your factory.
     
    As a result of this transition, the factory is expected to have empowered itself with a wide range of Industry 4.0 technologies and to successfully grasp the new issues of smart manufacturing to increase productivity and performance.
     
    According to a report by the Capgemini Research Institute, 45% of companies already have smart manufacturing projects underway. This is a growing trend that can be explained by the ease of access to certain tools and software that enable process automation. To remain competitive, companies must absolutely start their transition, if it has not already begun, because smart factory is now an integral part of everyone's strategy.  
     

Smart factory : transformation towards the intelligent factory

Monstock is a solution that allows you to digitize and automate your processes in the warehouse and factory. Monstock supports you in your technological adaptation projects and connects to more than 3000 digital solutions through its connectors to automate your processes and be productive. 

 

For more information, contact the Monstock team.

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