What is a Smart Factory?
The buzz around ‘smart factories’ has been around for a while now, but how do you go about actually creating one? Here we explore what a Smart Factory is and how it can become a reality.
Basically, a Smart Factory is a facility where machinery and systems are linked together by modular devices. These devices then allow industrial equipment to learn and adapt their processes, thereby creating a Smart Factory.
This development is in part due to the rise of ‘Big Data’, which is complex information that traditional data-processing applications are unable to manage effectively. It’s the application of this data, which is generated through the device communication mentioned above, which enables benefits such as predictive maintenance, flexible production and energy measurement.
Smart factories use industrial internet and the cloud to connect the real and virtual worlds, resulting in seamless integration of cyber physical systems at all levels, allowing the whole production process to be monitored.
The key to a successful Smart Factory is the interaction at field level. With a unified language, there is communication between machines, enabling full integration across the whole factory. This communication functionality doesn’t need to be built into the machine. Instead, flexible modular devices can be added to capture, process and transfer data throughout all levels of the factory.
Another aspect of the move towards smart factories is the requirement for more computer power across more locations and in ever-smaller spaces. Components are now required to deliver maximum performance in a minimum of space, driving the demand for compact, lighter product solutions. What’s more, these modular components can be easily disconnected and reconnected, allowing future-proofing upgrades and extensions to be completed quickly and with minimum disruption to production schedules.
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