SMART customer’s relationship with companies. WHAT MAKES SMART

SMARTFACTORY Smart factory is a small steptowards INDUSTRY 4.0 which was initiated by German government in an aim tocomputerize traditional manufacturing process. It represents a huge jumptowards  future from a conventionalautomated system to a fully functional connected system. And also it replacespyramid flow of information Automation has always been a part ofthe manufacturing process for decades. We have seen various kind of automation(simple or complicated) across factory floors.

However, the word “automation”means single, discrete process. In order to create a smart factory we need tomerge this discrete process into continuous process, we can achieve this withthe help of cyber-physical systems called Internet of Things (IoT).With recentadvancement in Machine learning, sophisticated cyber-physical systems have beendeveloped which combine physical machines with business models. Where machines,products and process are connected to network so they interact with one anotherand data flow between them is continuous. Using these data/information entireproduction process can be controlled according to the customer demand.

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It’smore like combining Business sides with manufacturing side, This in turn improvescustomer’s relationship with companies. WHAT MAKES SMART FACTORY SOSPECIAL?Smart Factory caught center ofattention at HANNOVER MESSE. What makes it so special is that’s its just notautomation but beyond that. Smart factories are designed to operate autonomousbut they can also connect to a global network.  The ultimate goal of smart factory is to beflexible as much as possible, ability to transform and adapt itself to thechanging environment – like changing customer needs, expansion of business tonew market, production of new products, process and services. Smart factoryprovides feasible solution for some of the issues.

It has the ability to learnand meet changing requirements from data in real time. And can also make adecision which helps companies to avoid operational downtime, failures, delays,cost and other losses.There are various parametersinvolved in building a smart factory one of them is “connected”. Smart factories require the machines and materials tobe connected in order to generate the data which can be used to make real-time decisions.Data generation from new machine is easy because most of them are advanced butin factories there do exists older model machine as a backup or rarely used.Data generation from these machines is not that easy but doable, smart sensorsare equipped in and around machines so the data generation is continuous, thisdata both from new and older machines are verified and updated.  Combining data’s from operations, business,suppliers and customers enables us to provide efficient supply-chain processes,and thereby increasing supply network value.Second feature in smart factory is optimization which allows process to beexecuted with minimal human intervention and more reliable.

The autonomouswork(job) flows, harmonization of work in progress products or finishedproducts or raw materials,  improved jobtracking and setting up, and how much energy consumed in the smart factory canincrease quality, and reduce costs and also throwaway(waste).Transparency plays a vital role in smart factory. It’s alwaysbetter to capture Real-time data from processes or work in progress and convertthe captured data into actionable insights, either for humans or autonomousdecision making. A transparent network can provide a clear vision of what ishappening across the factory floor and ensure the company by providing accurateinformation using aids such as real-time updates on production and real time productionpositioning, etc.Dedicated system, employees and computers can anticipate when thedowntime occurs and can act accordingly in preference to taking actions afterproblem arises. This feature can include identifying problems, filling up inventoryor stocks, identifying and controlling quality related problems and checkingsafety and maintenance concerns. The benefits of the smart factory to forecast futureoutcomes based on historical data and real-time data can improve throughputtime, tak time, quality, and avoid problems related to safety.

Responsive flexibilityallows the smart factory to adapt according to changing product demands withlittle human intervention. An advanced smart factory has the capacity to changeits configuration (machines and other devices) and flow of material dependingon the customer demand .Additionally; flexibility can improve throughput timeand can become more flexible schedulingThese features provide manufacturersgreater visibility across their factory floors, and allow them to navigate someof the problems faced by more traditional factories.

The goal of a smartfactory is to improve product quality, productivity and responsiveness tosuppliers and customer demand and services. WHY SMART FACTORY IS NEEDED NOW?We all know automationhas be around for so long but, why all of sudden, investors are interested insmart factory. It’s because of the advantages its provide than traditional one•        Provides competitive edge over competitors.•        Improves supply-chain network.

•        Decentralization control of production•        Capacity to provide cutting edge product design.•        Integration of shop floor network to management. Competitiveedge over competitors Smart factories has always been a dream formany companies due to mass data storage, network bandwidth cost, computing power,artificial intelligence, machine self awareness, etc. the wait is over due torecent developments and reduction in prices. Its has become a reality wherecompanies has invested in smart factory and those who has made an investmenthas a advantage over competitors in these areas which will eventually improvecompany profit.Improvessupply-chain networkSince globalizationhas become a key factor for trading and purchasing of products, companies hasfound a way to reduce the cost of products by shifting manufacturing plant intohost country/concern continent .These shifts are integrated with demand from thelocal, international customers, low labour cost, resources  and supply chain .

Due to these changescompanies has found a solutions to logistics, reactiveness and agile.Capacity toprovide cutting edge product design.Its goes by saying “notwo products are same”, this goes same for the customers who are interested inone type of product while others are interested in another type of product. Forthis very same reason there exists modular machines, these machines are popularbecause they share same structure but with little tweaks new type of setup canbe produced  which will in turn help newproduct (we don’t have to build machine from scratch ). In smart factory,machine learning can decide which type of setup is needed for what type ofproduct, so the final product is build faster than the conventional method.Integration ofshop floor network to management.One of the tediousjobs is integration of shop floor to management.

This procedure is like alifeline of the whole factory. It provided a hustle free communication fromworkers to the top management.  Factoryis not just made up of white collar employee but there also exists both skilledand unskilled labours who keep production running. So this is vital communicationfor smooth operation.Benefits ofthe smart factory Smart factory programshould orient itself toward the company goals. It addresses wide range ofcategories such as Energy efficiency, quality, material, labour and maintenancecosts, safety. These categories, among others, may increase benefits to thecompany such as low product ordering times, increased market share, and betterprofitability, product quality, and labour force stability. Regardless ofwhether, it’s the ability to demonstrate how successful the smart factory isgoing to be if investments are made and creating confidence in investors forfuture investments.

Energyefficiency Smart factorygenerates tons of data that needs to be continuously monitored and evaluated, sothat if a problem arises in some areas of manufacturing then it can berectified quickly with minimal downtime. The benefits of this type of factoryis that it has the capacity to self diagnostic when problem arise which is oneof the most prominent benefits of a smart factory. Energy efficiency shouldtranslate into lower machine downtime, capacity, reduced setup time, etcQualityThe self-diagnosticsfeature of the smart factory can predict when there is going to be a defect andcan help identifying the source of it. It can be either in machine, workers orenvironment. This could help in lower defects and improve lead times, replenishmenttimes, process times and increase product quality.

Material,labour and maintenance costsTraditionalmanufacturing companies have a hard time in maintaining material, labour andmaintenance cost due to in effective planning and decision making. Optimizedfactory leads to predictive inventory replenishment, better hiring process andquality maintenance. This can be achieved by integrating all services right frommachine, inventory and workers to a global network. Better integration leads tobetter quality product which will eventually lower other variable cost.Safety Smart factory has agreater impact on labour wellness and environmental safety. Since everything isdigitized or autonomous the amount of human error is minimal and can advertaccidents across plant, and carbon footprint on environment is low compared totraditional factory, which overall increases safety of both humans andenvironment. Smart factorycertainly replaces major of works where humans find repetitive and dangerous. However,the role of the human worker in a smart factory is not completely eliminated,smart factory opens door for new opportunities in maintaining IT sides and so.

 Transition tothe smart factory: Making transition is anot an easy job and takes time. Every smart factory looks different due to setupin factory layouts, production of parts, machines size and performance andother factors. However, there will be many differences between smart factoriesbut the mechanism needed to integrate a successful smart factory is almost sameand each one is important: 1.       Data2.

       Technology3.       control4.       People 5.

       Cyber security. Manufacturers canconsider which to prioritize for investment based on their own specificobjectives.Data Data are thelivelihood of the smart factory. With the computation power of computers, datacan be analysed and provides feedback to the system, since it is a closed loopcontrol. With these data one can predict operational performance, fluctuationsin supply chain, and abnormalities in a system, and can rectify it before majorbreakdown. Data can exist in many form not just operational data of machinesbut also data from the environment such as temperature, emissions and etc. Howdata are combined and processed varies from factories to factories.

For examplein a quality department must consider the data from dust particles beforetaking measurement but other department need not necessary takes theseinformation.  For a factory to besmart, manufactures should constantly collect loads of data and analyze it.Once a smart factory reached a certain position in terms of standards, the datageneration is also increased over time. For example companies must upgradetheir data storage. Data might be represented in form of1.       Digital twin 2.

       Digital shadow.Digital twin servers as a life linebetween the physical and digital world. First smart sensors gather information aboutreal-time status, working condition, or layout which is integrated with aphysical machine. The data from various equipments are connected to a storagedevice such as cloud-based system. This input is analyzed against business models.

With the available information new opportunities are uncovered within thevirtual environment that can be applied to the real world, ultimately transformingyour business.Digitalshadow refers to a set of unique traceabledigital activities, operations that are performed using Internet or on digitaldevices. Digital data can also be stored in many ways depending on thecompany’s investment. Since it is a smart factory we expect storage as online,it records everything right from time stamping, ordering of products, workerstime stamping works , etc, using these methods everything can be traced backedwho did what, so there will be hassle free backtracking the sources of error.TechnologyFor a smart factory tofunction at technological level one must integrate software’s, autonomousguided vehicles, and other equipments.

The benefits of this integration arethat devices and machines communicate with each other and also with the centralnetwork. However, factories need to consider other technologies as Materialresource planning (MRP), Enterprise resourceplanning (ERP), processing power, Artificial intelligence (AI), Virtual reality(VR), and digitized operations.ControlSincethe smart factory is the ability to self -adapt, learn new things thanks toArtificial intelligence (AI) – it can impact the conventional process andbusiness outcome. A self-governing system can carry out many tasks withouthuman intervention; this will relieve us from making decisions i.e. Machinescan take decisions instead of humans, which will reduce responsive time andstress.

Additionallythe connectivity of a smart factory can extend beyond a single plant and it canconnect sub plants, suppliers which creates a new value chain. For example ifthere is an OEM manufacturer of Automotive industry who gets parts from  suppliers, the OEM manufactures expects hisparts to be available as quick as possible. So the solution is integration thebusiness together. This type of merge raises questions in new business modelsand also provides a bird sight view of what’s happening across theorganizations. PeopleSmartfactory has definitely created impact on people in both ways. There is a fearamong people that robots will replace them in terms of automation. Wellcertainly it is, automation will replace some part of manual labour work but also creates new jobs in terms ofautomations, better roles and non repetitive task.

  There was a recent study in VDI that statesautomation will indirectly creates jobs. At the end of the day it’s one’sperspectives to view. A successful smart factory creates a harmoniousrelationship between industries and peoples.Cyber securitySinceeverything is connected in a smart factory, there is always a fear thatinformation flow might be disrupted by unwanted people in an aim to shut downfactories. So for the very same reasons cyber security need to be addressed. Notonly companies but also suppliers and customers are connected to network, therisk becomes much more.

 The point of attackon network is possible the weakest link, probably the DSN, or the employers networkor common wifi , these are some of the possible links and its security shouldbe increased.