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The Smart Factory, or intelligent factory, stems from the principles of Industry 4.0 and is radically transforming manufacturing companies around the world, moving them toward manufacturing digitization through automated and intelligent processing systems.
It basically involves automating and optimizing production layouts and connectivity between machines and plants to increase control over processes, enhance automation mechanisms and improve collaboration between people, machines and software.
This process is made possible by the technologies that underpin today's Smart Factory, and they are:
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: