Smart Factory And Its Connection To Your Production Line
Technology is modernizing how businesses operate, especially on the production floor. We're entering an era known as "Industry 4.0," a revolution lead by the exciting growth of digital trends and advancements. These advancements modernize factories and production lines with smart machines, AI, automation, and more. Together, these transformative technologies give life to a new type of factory: the smart factory.
What is a smart factory?
A smart factory is a factory that utilizes a combination of digital, automated, and connected technologies that create a dynamic production environment. Smart factories employ transformative technologies, communication methods, and sensors for increased efficiency and connectivity using the industrial internet of things (IIoT).The purpose of developing a smart factory is to decrease slowdown, automate menial tasks, and otherwise discover ways to boost the production line.
Smart factories leverage modern technology solutions to solve real-life production problems.Sensors and other analytical devices collect information about the production process, ranging from how long a product takes to move from one area to another to sensing when machines may require maintenance. One of the benefits of real-time data collection includes responding to alerts indicatingwhere preventative action is needed, so failing machinerygetsfixed before the problem escalates,saving manufacturers time, money, and avoiding disruptions to the workflow.
Automation allows staff to focus on specialized tasks instead of being distracted by basic routines such as reordering supplies. Automation within a smart factory also enables manufacturers to manage their time more efficiently because they can rely on some tasks to complete themselves. Factories and manufacturers benefit from this customized approach to their production models.
What are the Top Features of Smart Manufacturing?
Smart factories integrate many advanced technologies to create a more efficient production line. Using advanced technology to improve upon the production and manufacturing process is part of smart manufacturing.
New features are constantly developed and integrated into smart factories for smart manufacturing purposes. Digital twins, automation, machine learning, artificial intelligence, big data, analytics, augmented reality, and virtual reality are some of the technologies that are bringing manufacturing plants into the era of smart manufacturing.
A digital twin is a digital replica of a physical asset. The physical asset is equipped with smart devices like sensors that use the industrial internet of things to communicate real-time data about the asset to the digital twin.The digital twin tracks the physical asset throughout its lifetime. Digital twins can provide powerful insights into manufacturing and production processes that can help boost efficiency and productivity.Manufacturers have successfully created digital twins of their production floor that work as a visual representation of their entire smart factory. Having a digital twin of their factory allows them to monitor production remotely, and even check in on the life and performance of each part within their production line. With the ability to see when a part is failing, or when a segment of the production line isn't performing optimally, manufacturers can get ahead of problems and make repairs before they cause a dent in their bottom line.
Traditionally, automation in manufacturing is when machine operations take over manual labor tasks for faster results. In smart manufacturing, automation means much more. Automation with smart machines has many other applications, including adjusting and adapting to production line needs without the need for human intervention.When specific tasks are completed through automation, engineers can focus more on creating new designs and products through critical thinking. Big data and analytics are improving automation capabilities in smart factories byapplying new information to increase efficiency.
Machine learning, a subset of artificial intelligence, works in tandem with other aspects of smart manufacturing, like automation and AI, by using a machine or system's experiences to improve function and performance without direct programming. The more they perform specific tasks, the better they get. In production, smart machines enhanced with machine learning seek out patterns, or algorithms, and then work to improve upon those patterns.
Machine learning has a variety of applications in manufacturing, including finding and fixing flaws within existing data models for basic programming.
Smart factories leverage digital data and information in many ways, including artificial intelligence.Often used for predictive analytics, AI helps businesses to make educated decisions based on data patterns. Artificial intelligence also predicts hardware failure before it occurs.
In manufacturing, one of the most common AI applications is generative design.Generative design is a computer-aided design engineering software function that allows a designer tocollaborate with artificial intelligence algorithms to createvarious potential designs for a product idea using goals and constraints set by the user. Generative design can simulate the design and development of products and components without incurring costs from designing prototypes in the physical space. This process allows engineers to evaluate design ideas before committing their production.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
With virtual reality, engineers can build digital environments where products and components can be tested based on simulation data. Adjustments can be made quickly with no risk to users, and companies can view the results of their virtual products in real-time. Through this application, virtual reality allows engineers to build prototypes without substantial cost and capital investment.
Augmented reality can allow an engineer to see a virtual part on a physical object before it enters production. With a virtual copy of a part derived from digital measurement data, engineers can use augmented reality to help ensure accuracy and quality during the measurement and production processes.
Creating a Dynamic Production Line Environment
Creating a dynamic production line environment allows manufacturers to operate more efficiently and gives them flexibility. The inception of a dynamic production line environment begins determining goals based on the needs of the company.
Establishing an enterprise resource system as a unified database for information is another essential building block in the creation of a smart factory. Since big data drive smart factories, companies need a way to analyze the data from the production line,as well as an environment to analyze and store the influx of information. With data being collected by sensors on factory equipment daily, it's essential to have this stable system in placeso the data can be accessed quickly and applied in different ways.
Integrating transformative technologies into manufacturing and production processes createsa new ecosystem of information and communication between engineers, factory floors, assembly lines, workers, machines,and the resulting product. Each step iscustomizable to meet the needs of the operation, and mundane processes are eliminated by automated, ultimately creating a smart factory that's ready for the future of manufacturing.
As more transformative technologies develop, smart factories rise as the standard of the Industry 4.0 era. Like each of the preceding industrial eras, these smart factory innovations revolutionize how production lines operate. The new technologies that comprise smart factoriesoptimize processes, improve designs, streamline production, and help engineers reach new levels of quality for designs that shape the future. Smart machines, AI, and big data continue to break the limits of what is possible in manufacturing and engineering.