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Smart Factory represents a totally new work approach for manufacturing companies, giving an injection of dynamism and optimizing the performance of production lines. New processes organization can satisfy deeper needs and individual customer requirements, to ensure high levels of flexibility.
Several technologies underpin today's smart factory. The cloud enables new levels of scalability, flexibility and responsiveness. Analytics and BIG DATA allow insights to be derived in real time from massive volumes of data.
"Connected everything" creates new ways of automated interaction. Self-steering sensor and actor networks control mechanical activities. Social Media drives new ways of collaboration within and beyond the organization. High-speed data processing technologies enable real-time decision-making based on analytics.
Manufacturing processes are organized differently, with entire production chains – from suppliers to logistics to the life cycle management of a product – closely connected across corporate boundaries. In a smart factory, all individual steps included in the production process are fully connected and integrated.
Some of the processes to be impacted are factory and production planning, logistics product development, enterprise resource planning and manufacturing execution systems. Also, in a smart factory, the plant machinery and equipment enable the improvement of the production process through self-optimization and autonomous decision making. Data Collection is key to make this possible. To know more about it, read: Big Data.
Smart factories also use sensors, which offer flexibility in production by enabling remote and dynamic adjustments. These sensors free personnel from making the adjustments at each manufacturing work station. Interconnecting these devices reliably with higher-level control systems is crucial for smart factories. This is in stark contrast to running fixed program operations, as is the case today.
Implementing smart factory leads to immediate benefits such: