Manufacturers are doing what it takes to gain competitive advantage. As they grapple with Industry 4.0 and IIoT they are envisaging a brave new connected world where all devices – including their product as an output – are able to communicate. As manufacturers begin to make these adjustments, they are beginning to appreciate that the thread holding all the moving parts together is connectivity.
Smarter, ‘connected factories’ bring with them an entirely new set of complex challenges. And as the number of remotely controlled or autonomous units on a factory floor increase, high device synchronicity and low latency become ever more critical.
Couple this with increasingly demanding customers who expect a greater variety of products in a shorter period of time, and we have a situation where market windows for products are shortening as never before, calling for more agility in the form of efficient line changes and optimised workflows.
New levels of productivity, intelligence and awareness can be found in the connected factory, because of machine-to-machine integration and IIoT. Sensors rather than human decisions fine-tune machinery and operations, using data to adjust workflows, eliminate inefficient procedures, capacity attrition, wastefulness and any production bottlenecks. This is accomplished by remotely tracking, monitoring and adjusting machinery based on sensor data from disparate parts of the factory.
In this newest phase of the industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0, manufacturing processes are becoming linked and scaled so that machines, devices, sensors, and workers are fully networked.
A smart or connected factory is one where almost every aspect of the factory ecosystem is highly visible and available for analysis. By utilising data, digital processes and tools and entire organisation is supported, from management to the shop floor, to reach a heightened level of efficiency and profitability.