How Manufacturers Are Affected by Smart Factory Revolution

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How Manufacturers Are Affected by Smart Factory Revolution

You don’t have to take a closer look to know how technology is having a profound impact on how factories are operating today. The use of technology is making the process of manufacturing intelligent and dynamic, allowing the smart factory concept a reality.

You might have heard that robots are taking over our world. This concern is very real when you start seeing fear-mongering advertisements for job insecurity. In the coming days, it will be like “us vs. them.”

While the ubiquitous fear of robots taking over is influencing our life, the manufacturing industry is impacted the most by the robot revolution. Being optimistic it’s not bad news at all. After all, you don’t need a time management app on a robot to keep it on track.

Today’s autonomous industry which is also known as industry 4.0 as IIoT (Industrial internet of things) is indeed changing the traditional makeup of manufacturing. Here are a few reasons why the workforce should embrace the smart factory revolution and not fear it.

What is a smart factory?

The term smart factory is referred to as an environment where equipment and machinery are programmed to improve themselves through automation and self-optimization. The benefits of the smart factory extend beyond just the final finished physical product. But it is also beneficial for functions like planning, supply chain, and even product development.

The basic structure of a smart factory includes combinations of production, communication technology, and information, with the integration of all these processes across the entire assembly line.

These diverse parts of the supply chain are connected through IoT and other forms of smart integration such as IC’s (integrated circuits), which allow measurement, control, sensing, and communication of everything that is happening throughout the manufacturing process.

IoT allows Sensor Technology

Data collection is possible through a technology called central to the smart factory which consists of motors, intelligent sensors, and robots present on the assembly line.

To keep awareness about what is happening on multiple levels of the factory, sensors make it possible to monitor specific processes throughout the factory such as maintenance of motors, bearing and other equipment that can be warned by vibration sensors. These types of sensors are very useful in giving alerts for prevention or maintenance of larger products that are left unattended.

With daily advancement in AI, machine learning, and neural nets manufacturing is the best place to unleash the power of smart machines.

While the economic benefits of rapidly developing mechanical labor are clear, the effects of this on the human component of work is still unknown, which is the cause of fear.

Signs of Industry 4.0

Let’s be honest to ourselves, the smart factory revolution isn’t just a vogue. It will stay here certainly. Let stats be our guide to tell us how permanent this change is going to be.

Smart manufacturing is expected to grow to $450-$480 billion by 2022. The sale of helping robots also known as co-bots is expected to reach $12-12.8 billion by the end of 2024 and the infamous IoT could add gigantic $14 trillion by 2025.

Many believe that the smart factory wave is the inevitable source of the fourth generation industry known as Industry 4.0. The smart factory is causing convergence of AI, analytics, robotics, and the ubiquitous IoT.

It is the peak of operational efficiency and can handle large autonomous operations. They also have the ability to self-optimize and self-correct their own already extremely efficient processes.

Impact of the smart factory on manufacturers

We all know that humans have far better communication skills as compared to robots. Effective internal communication is a must-have in the manufacturing workforce to run your factory efficiently and ensuring the security of frontline workers.

As the trend of smart factories is emerging, people will have to evolve their roles that they are currently performing. Humans will take on more difficult roles while the machines will take over the task that is repeatable or is currently impacted by a labor shortage. Many studies have shown that technology, overall will not eliminate jobs.

While factories are getting technologically advanced, the indirect jobs which are needed to support them are increasing potentially. New industries will emerge, new suppliers, fuelling the advancement from outside the smart factory.

When you are working between machines and moving parts, as a manufacturing factory, keeping track of operations can be a daunting task. Measure productivity and make use of teamworks time tracker tool, to keep your staff’s productivity at peak.

In the end, the era of smart factories will benefit manufacturers by developing a safer and reliable plant.

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Oliver Johnson
See all posts by Oliver Johnson