While the technological advancements are an important aspect, it is worth noting that the word “smart” encompasses more than just technology. According to IoT Business News, a successful change management process in smart factories requires the presence of both competent personnel and efficient procedures in conjunction with the technology. One example of this is reshoring, a measure taken to prevent disruptions in the supply chain. To be considered truly intelligent, the system must incorporate all three components – people, procedures, and technology.
Historically, smart factories have depended on a combination of human labour and operational procedures to function. Nonetheless, due to recent technological progress, they have managed to maintain their competitive edge. In this article, we will explore the effects of intelligent industrial technologies on the evolution of these workplaces in the years leading up to 2023 and beyond.
The role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has a pivotal impact on the success of smart factories. When integrated with other tools, AI can evaluate the operational status of equipment and assist in scheduling timely repairs and replacements. The incorporation of AI technology can lead to better budget allocation for maintenance, as well as a reduction in downtime.
In the manufacturing industry, facility managers can optimize their operations by utilizing the predictive capabilities of AI to forecast customer demand based on past orders. This leads to more efficient purchasing decisions and a decrease in the likelihood of supply chain disturbances. Additionally, AI can be utilized for automating different tasks, as will be illustrated in the upcoming examples.
The partnership between Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and Robotics is ushering in an era of automated operations for businesses. Automation has the potential to improve working conditions in factories by enabling human workers to shift their focus to more value-creating tasks, while machines assume the responsibility for mundane and repetitive assignments. If you would like to delve deeper into industrial automation, please refer to the attached video for more information.
Big Data, Referring to Vast Amounts of Data
Smart factories are equipped with systems capable of collecting and analyzing data from various sources, with the primary goal of improving productivity and other crucial performance metrics. In addition to this, these factories can use the data to gain insights into customer preferences and refine marketing strategies and retail methods.
Big Data and Data Analytics can also be utilized in the field of product customization. Prior to the advent of these technologies, catering to a niche market could be time-consuming and financially unprofitable. However, according to SAS vendor Selerity, data analytics can facilitate precise demand forecasting for personalized goods, establishing a viable solution to such challenges.
Considerations When Employing Cloud Computing
Utilizing cloud-based services, as opposed to on-premises systems, can enable more cost-effective and user-friendly data storage and processing within factories. By fostering connections between cloud-based databases and other manufacturing systems, data gathered from various sources can be efficiently uploaded into a single location.
Cloud platforms are designed to process data collected from edge computing, which is performed in close proximity to the data source. This allows centralized data centres to focus on more intricate tasks. Conversely, a cloud system can be utilized to transmit data from the edge for advanced processing.
The integration of Internet of Things (IoT) technology in manufacturing processes offers numerous benefits. Sensors are used to transmit data to a central hub where it can be analyzed and used to gain useful insights. For instance, temperature sensors can provide valuable information on the ideal conditions required for specific products.
Machinery components that require replacement due to wear and tear can be identified by implementing sensors for monitoring purposes. This facilitates informed spending and planning decisions. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is an integral component of the Internet of Things (IoT) and is of significant importance for the success of smart factories.
Machine Vision Systems
Machine Vision Systems can relieve operators of inspection duties by conducting comprehensive assessments of components or products and verifying that they satisfy predefined standards. A Machine Vision System is responsible for fulfilling certain tasks while in operation. It begins by identifying the object that is under inspection. Subsequently, it captures its image by directing light to pertinent points. Thereafter, the acquired image is converted to a digital format and stored for future processing.
The Machine Vision System is designed to identify specific features upon completion of its inspection. This technology is advantageous as it can assess products more quickly and accurately than manual methods. The ability to detect and rectify production defects at an early stage reduces costs and protects a company’s reputation from being compromised.
Robots can provide substantial cost savings and heightened efficiencies as a result of their capability to automate repetitive tasks. Due to their superior speed and precision, robots are ideal for taking on labour-intensive activities, such as product assembly, transportation, heavy lifting, construction, and handling of hazardous materials.
The implementation of robots within the manufacturing environment can minimize risks to human health. Reduced human presence has been found to lead to a decrease in illnesses such as COVID-19. Furthermore, robots serve as a secure alternative for operating hazardous machinery frequently found in factories.
In modern industries, robots are not only efficient, but also have the added benefit of being immune to fatigue. As a result, they can be programmed to operate continuously, 24/7, resulting in substantial increases in productivity.
A Collaborative Endeavor
According to a recent article in Inc., the development of smart factories will result in an increased demand for skilled labor, necessitating the training of individuals in technologies such as AI, robotics, and the cloud, instead of robots replacing human workers altogether. This reinforces the belief that the future is likely to involve a collaborative relationship between humans and technology.
The combined efforts of all components result in far greater benefits. Machines can be programmed to aid humans in achieving their goals of heightened productivity, cost reduction, and enhanced efficiency. However, it may require time and resources for individuals to develop a team-oriented attitude and acquire the skills necessary for successful collaboration.
To assist employees who may be affected by automation and help them secure alternative job opportunities within the company, businesses could introduce change management programs which incorporate machine-specific training and the development of new skills.