Smart manufacturing refers to the use of advanced tools to manage the flow of raw materials, the manufacturing process, and fulfillment of inventory on time. In other words, it optimizes the manufacturing process through big data analysis and computer controls. Many global organizations are now opting for smart manufacturing. This is mainly because it can provide greater connectivity across a manufacturing enterprise, and an improved ability to act on production intelligence. Smart manufacturing offers many opportunities for companies to improve operations, create new value and respond to challenges such as the skilled-labor shortage.
For example, some manufacturers are using embedded machine intelligence to predict equipment failures and improve productivity. The main advantage is that they are using remote-access capabilities to monitor multiple machines simultaneously from a centralized location, allowing them to use labor more efficiently. This means they are extending this greater connectivity and information sharing outside their production walls, to track and coordinate supply chain activities better. They also use contemporary cloud technologies to change business models and build new revenue streams.
According to Capgemini’s Digital Transformation Institute, in the next five years, smart factories may contribute as much as $500 billion in added value to the global economy. The reason: Smart factories can produce more with lower costs, according to the report.
So let’s see how smart manufacturing will help in supporting your business goals:
Streamlined and automated data
With the use of smart technologies, data collection is automated and this allows advanced production analytics. This means managers can make more informed decisions. Having smart operations will enable manufacturers to connect their operations to systems that compare key performance indicators against business goals.
Due to better visibility, manufacturers are able to predict and resolve maintenance issues before they lead to downtime or product-quality issues. For instance, sensors affixed to machines or devices may send condition monitoring or repair data in real time, so manufacturers can identify problems more efficiently.
Significant cost reductions
Another benefit is that manufacturers can identify waste and increase forecast accuracy when their operations and enterprise systems are connected. This allows them to have better insight into supply chain issues, such as inventory levels and delivery status, as well as demand cycles. Therefore, they can reduce costs related to excessive inventory or unexpected production volume.
Reduce workforce challenges
Manufacturers can launch and complete projects with fewer workers due to automation. Access to real-time data across multiple platforms liberates workers to focus on their main responsibilities. This leads to faster innovation without investing in additional resources.
There is no doubt that smart, connected systems help factories improve output. Indeed, a connected enterprise allows manufacturers to have seamless visibility into machine performance, and other operational inefficiencies. Such data provides manufacturers with more insights about how to increase yields, improve quality, and reduce waste.
Innovation and Higher Quality Products
Improved productivity means that more money can be invested in product development. After analysis, smart manufacturing data can be compared to customer needs and managers can find opportunities for new products or re-imagined products of a higher quality.
More Manufacturing Jobs
With smart manufacturing, you can attract a younger, tech-savvy workforce since more technology-based manufacturing jobs will become available. The use of smart manufacturing data and apps allow employees to recognize new opportunities and increase productivity.
3 factors to consider when getting started with Smart Manufacturing
Smart manufacturing is about defining a new business strategy that impacts the entire company at all levels and has to be designed correctly, and consistent with company goals. Therefore, the initiative should be taken at the top level of the organization. Keeping a strategic vision in mind, a company must define the effective processes to coordinate the organization to adopt smart manufacturing. After this, the technology can be chosen to support the processes and empower the organization.
Adapting to market changes
Implementing smart manufacturing will require adaptation to market changes and demands and being flexible. It is important to note that the technological systems you have implemented will need to be updated and adjusted as well as time goes by. They will need to be continuously improved. For this reason, it is a good practice to keep them lean and to avoid making them over-sophisticated.
Empower your people
Keep in mind that no matter where you start and no matter which technology you adopt, it will affect the organization and the people. For instance, it will change the way they operate and will require some time for adoption. Choosing an area that brings them obvious and easy benefits will immediately encourage them to support the initiative. In fact, smart manufacturing is not about replacing people; it is about focusing on people to empower them as much as possible to provide the intelligence that the machines or software cannot guarantee.
Smart manufacturing initiatives allow businesses to keep up with industry changes and remain competitive. Adopting smart manufacturing starts with an organization’s leadership. As a powerful disruptive force, smart manufacturing has the potential to restructure the current competitive landscape and produce a new set of market leaders. Organizations that are slow to adopt new technologies and processes could be left behind.