As technology evolves, the manufacturing industry is one of the first to embrace novel technologies and automation. The same holds true in today’s data-driven market ecosystem, with manufacturers embracing IoT, AI, and advanced analytics capabilities to optimise manufacturing facilities in real-time with smart factories. But what exactly does this entail?
What is smart manufacturing?
Smart manufacturing is a union of physical and digital processes within the manufacturing facilities to optimise processes in real-time, optimise production, and reduce costs for effective manufacturing management. It integrates various sensors, robotic processes, IoT principles, real-time data processing, and control techniques to improve agility, decision quality and efficiency. Although the contemporary smart manufacturing systems primarily focus on highly specialised tasks – requiring precision in processes, position, and physical conditions – they have tremendous potential to optimise supply and demand requirements, labour costs, and overall productivity within the manufacturing industry.
What are some of the common terms in smart manufacturing?
A lot of technical jargon in smart manufacturing may be a bit difficult for manufacturing professionals to understand, mystifying the overall concept of smart manufacturing. Here are some of the common terms in smart manufacturing that can help you understand it better:
Smart manufacturing applications
These are modular software applications that can perform one or more functions when it comes to manufacturing operations management. They connect with other systems and applications for seamless performance and operations management.
Smart manufacturing platform
It is a set of tools and applications that help collect, analyse, and distribute data automatically, facilitating data-driven decisions and optimisation of processes in real time. Leveraging information modelling, AI, and IIoT technologies, these platforms facilitate data integration across manufacturing enterprises and supply chains for enhanced performance efficiency across the board.
Big data is a collection of structured and unstructured data from sensors, equipment, and processes across the manufacturing facility. Analysing it can reveal patterns and trends in process efficiency and help optimise productivity.
A combination of hardware and software tools, cloud computing (or the cloud) allows manufacturing facilities to store, process, and access data remotely with internet connectivity. As it relies on remote servers, it can provide unlimited storage and processing capabilities without significant investment in hardware assets.
These systems synchronise physical processes with counterpart virtual objects to monitor and control industrial processes.
Human-machine interface (HMI)
HMI is a user interface that allows users to interact with machines or devices to monitor and control their performance. It can range from a physical control panel to a graphical user interface and everything in between.
Internet of things (IoT)
IoT is the integration of computing devices and sensors into everyday devices, making them capable of sending and receiving data via standard internet communication.
Industrial internet of things (IIoT)
IIoT is the network of industrial sensors, instruments, equipment, and other manufacturing devices connected to an embedded computing system that allows them to exchange data. Such connectivity can help automate processes, improve decision-making, and enhance performance efficiency with minimal human intervention.
A key for smart manufacturing systems is interoperability, which is the ability of different software and hardware tools to communicate and exchange data. Focusing on interoperability can often require you to integrate additional computing devices that can help translate different types of data, so that, different machines and processes can communicate with each other.
No matter the size of your operation or business, if you can afford it, a smart manufacturing system is a good investment. Embracing the principles of Industry 4.0 and leveraging manufacturing outsourcing services to build smart facilities can help you optimise production with real-time data insights for increased efficiency, precision, and return on investment. So, if you have the necessary resources, smart manufacturing can help you build a competitive edge and compete with big players in the manufacturing industry.