The manufacturing industry is facing new challenges as products and machines become increasingly interconnected. As technology continues to improve manufacturing processes and increase revenue potential, manufacturers who are ready for growth are making the move to a Smart Factory™ model.
What is a Smart Factory?
Smart Factories rely on big-data processing, advanced robotics and industrial connectivity devices and services to make manufacturing more efficient and to proactively predict and address potential failures. By 2022, Smart Factories could deliver $500 billion in added value to the global economy, according to Forbes. The technology is more widely accessible than ever and evolving rapidly as companies transition their operations to a heavily data-driven model.
Smart Factory technology connects and controls complex manufacturing systems, streamlining operations and centralizing information to boost productivity and revenue. With Industry 4.0 solutions, manufacturing plants can leverage real-time data, reduce IT costs and improve the entire production lifecycle for higher profit margins and a better customer experience.
Smart Factories in Action
What results do companies see when they invest in future-facing Smart Factories? These six theoretical and real-life case studies show how connected environments can make operations faster, smarter and more cost-effective:
1. The Warehouse
A warehouse operations supervisor struggles with high production costs due to inefficiencies in inventory management and too much time spent on repetitive, low-value tasks. The supervisor deploys AI and machine learning to automate pick-and-place tasks and execute operations. The results? Lowered production costs as shop-floor efficiency increases and predictable inventory tracked and managed based on immediate need.
2. The Automotive Manufacturing Plant
An automotive manufacturing plant takes advantage of improved visibility thanks to the connectivity of the Smart Factory. The company now benefits from constant, proactive monitoring and significantly reduced downtime for retooling or resetting equipment. With real-time production lifecycle data, the plant can create new processes and refine existing processes for greater efficiency and less waste of time and resources.
3. The Global Supply Chain
A global supply chain benefits from a flexible environment that meets the needs of different manufacturing and production setups, leading to optimal agility for quick adjustments as conditions and operating needs change. Each segment in the supply chain feeds data into an integrated system to support fast, accurate business decisions. Smart Factory tools enable employees to design and adhere to realistic, flexible manufacturing schedules.
4. The Distribution Company
A distribution company implements process best practices to improve their workforce management. Not only are projects now completed with fewer workers, but skilled employees are evolving into more complex roles as automation takes over repeatable tasks. The company is shielded from the effects of labor shortages and makes better use of its existing talent. It also benefits from a faster, more competitive innovation process.
5. The Ride-Sharing Enterprise
A 7,000-employee ride-sharing enterprise standardized its reimbursement processes and optimized data analysis, with the payoff of improved efficiency, enhanced customer experiences, better processes and cleaner, data-driven decision making. Implementation of the new process was successfully accomplished in three weeks. The new system also incorporated the company’s need for a user-friendly interface and a high standard of data security.
6. The International Trucking Manufacturer
An international trucking manufacturer used their Smart Factory system to gain full data visibility, resulting in real-time analytics, proactive alerting for potential mechanical failures, and full integration with operational systems to route trucks strategically. The company saw marked improvements in manufacturing truck designs, reduced its repair and maintenance costs, and began to sell service subscriptions as a new revenue stream.
A truly smart factory is interconnected, entirely in-synch and operating with full visibility into metrics and performance. With the power of Industrial IoT, Industry 4.0, machine learning and more, Smart Factory companies improve production and processes powered by the right MES solution. The benefits extend even further, improving leadership’s ability to plan, enhancing proactive supply chain maintenance and paving the way for smoother product development. In other words, the Smart Factory is the innovative, agile manufacturer of the future.
HAND Enterprise Solutions is a global leader in delivering integrated solutions for manufacturing and distribution companies looking to maximize their operational efficiency. We partner with the best, including SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, BCCD and ShipERP, to make every partnership a success. With 23 years of industry experience and thousands of implementations under our belt, we are the ideal partner for your Smart Factory migration.
Explore MES solutions designed to expedite the path to the Smart Factory when you download your free eGuide.