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What is a smart factory—and why it offers manufacturers multiple benefits

June 08, 2020

What is a smart factory—and why it offers manufacturers multiple benefits
You can see it on smart factory floors and warehouses in a broad range of industries. IoT technology is having a profound impact on manufacturing operations, delivering greater efficiency and productivity and improving product quality and worker safety. A study conducted by Deloitte found companies that implement smart factory strategies report, on average, a 10-12% gain in manufacturing output, factor utilization and labor productivity.
What is a smart factory or automated factory?
A smart factory (or automated factory) is an environment where production, information and communication technology are connected via the Internet of Things and other types of advanced combined circuits to enable integration across the entire manufacturing supply chain and allow for greater automation and self-optimization. What’s more, the benefits of the smart factory extend beyond the production of goods to include planning, supply chain logistics and product development.

The advantages of smart data collection
IoT sensors collect reams of data that provide valuable intelligence about what’s happening on the factory floor and make it possible to monitor specific processes throughout a manufacturing facility. Here’s what this means for the companies that employ smart factory technology:

  • Automated data collection and advanced production analytics—In a smart factory, managers can make more informed business decisions and have the ability to tie operations with business systems to measure key performance indicators against business goals.
  • Predictive and preventative maintenance—Better visibility allows manufacturers to predict and address maintenance issues more efficiently beforehand so they don’t end up slowing down production.
  • Cost savings—Manufacturers have better insight into supply chain issues such as inventory levels, delivery status and demand cycles, all of which can affect the bottom line.
  • Greater productivity—In an automated factory, there’s seamless visibility into bottlenecks, machine performance and other operational inefficiencies. With this data, factory owners and managers can make adjustments to increase yields, improve quality and reduce waste.
A new era in manufacturing
The advent of the smart factory or automated factory has led to what’s now known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0. This term refers to manufacturers’ use of cloud technology to store and access the vast amounts of data they acquire from smart sensor technology—the data they use in manufacturing applications within a factory or across an entire supply chain. To be sure, easy and ready access to the reams of data collected by IoT devices has hastened the adoption of automated factory technology, and the cloud has played a major part in the growth of smart manufacturing.
Have your manufacturing customers embraced the smart factory concept and Industry 4.0 yet? If not, maybe it’s time to introduce them. To learn more, visit the IoT marketplace at https://iot.ingrammicro.com or contact us at us.iot@ingrammicro.com.