In a post industrial revolution world, we already have some amazing technological marvels that make production faster. Robots on the assembly line, light based manufacturing, and 3D printing have permanently improved production. Recently, we have seen the emergence of an even greater technology that has the potential to overshadow all others, the smart factory.
What is a Smart Factory?
Smart factories are the culmination and optimization of all existing capabilities a traditional factory has now. With advances in sensor technology, machine connectivity, and IoT, machinery and other hardware is able to be operated in a digital manner. Much like a smartphone, a user can do things like monitor a machine’s status, automate some of its processes, optimize it with the data being sent back, and more just within a machine level.
At its most basic level, physical production of goods and services can be automated and improved, planning and designing of a part or design is faster, and greater degrees of preventative maintenance can be achieved which can ensure the safety of workers, Intellectual property, and even supply chains.
How Fast is a Smart Factory?
Over these past few years, most factories have been able to reach some level of automation whether it being through robots physically taking the place of a person on the factory floor, or with computer aided planning and scheduling simplifying the workflow. These improvements have easily shaved off time in the production process but there are other ways to achieve greater production speed.
Where smart factories differ from traditional factories is through their ability to optimize their process based on usage metrics. AI and machine learning have had a profound impact on the overall productivity of a factory. Being able to monitor a process throughout a process and receiving data from the machines allow for improvement where it is needed.
This wealth of data allows for flexibility in the manufacturing process which means that depending on the needs of your factory, less time is needed to manually change settings on equipment and scaling up or down overall production is simple.
How Safe is a Smart Factory?
This same increased visibility can also be to prevent unexpected shutdowns and malfunctions which could lead to injury on the factory floor. A user can be warned ahead of time if a machine needs to be maintenanced or replaced or if a part is not meeting the desired quality or compliance with whatever standard.
From an IP perspective, digital assets can be encrypted and allowed access only for the individuals needing it. The awareness granted by smart factories can extend beyond the factory and across the entire manufacturing supply chain.
If you would like to learn more about supply chains and how smart factories can enhance it, join us tomorrow when we invite co-founders Sachin Saswade and Gopal Ramanujam from IndusIntel and CTO/President, Vishal Singh from Link3D to discuss how you can enhance your supply chain using trusted data solutions. Take the first step in improving visibility into your additive manufacturing processes and watch our on-demand video today!