We’ve officially come to the era where the third industrial revolution is ready to evolve into the fourth, known as Industry 4.0. This advancement involves the use of artificial intelligence and smart digital technology to streamline factory operations, increase productivity, improve preventive maintenance processes, and speed up the production of bespoke products. This transition is fostered by the growing consumer demand, along with changes in the competitive manufacturing landscape.
Transitioning your manually-operated factory to a smart factory is just necessary and appropriate if your current system has already ceased being efficient, or if you’re already starting to struggle meeting your customers’ demands. But if you’re not yet adequately educated about Industry 4.0, here’s a basic explanation, along with the perks of employing such technology.
The Four Levels of a Smart Factory
As you gradually evolve into a full-scale smart factory, you will first undergo its four levels before reaping all its benefits. Bear in mind that you can’t skip levels, so if you want to upgrade faster, you must work with a reliable smart factory technology provider.
- Level 1 – Data is available, but manual work is still required to translate them into useful information. For example, when a mechanical failure occurs, operators and engineers can only gather data manually before fixing the problem, which is time-consuming and costly.
- Level 2 – Data is already stored and available in a single source of truth. Problems such as machine failures can now be fixed faster, however, proactive analysis is still time-consuming at this level.
- Level 3 – By this level, your system can now find valuable insights on its own and even predict potential failures accurately. Proactive, reactive, and preventive analysis will no longer require manual work, but human involvement remains necessary.
- Level 4 – Human interference is already minimal at level 4. Artificial intelligence is employed, which can identify an optimization, generate and transmit the new settings to the machine, where it will be automatically executed.
Industry 4.0 deals with a tremendous amount of data, hence skipping levels may only make your system overloaded, resulting in complications and wasted money. Using a step-by-step approach will not only promise minimal hassle, but also a speedier transition.
Perks of a Smart Factory
In addition to the improvements stated in the levels, smart factory tech also optimizes your assets, meaning your company as a whole. It allows you to monitor your personnel, equipment, and resources in real time. In turn, you can make adjustments on-the-spot, and ensure that productivity and revenue are always advantageous.
Efficiency is enhanced, because you can connect the supply chain to your manufacturing plant, making vital information readily available to whom it may concern within your organization. This promotes better collaboration, especially when an issue needs to be mended immediately.
Even if setting up a smart factory is costly, it will prove cost-effective in time, because it’s designed to be easily expandable, allowing you to adjust to high demands fast. It’s also equipped with safety and security features, so there’s no need to scout for a separate provider of those.
And since a full-scale smart factory minimizes human involvement, your staff will have enhanced roles, being free to move around your plant to inspect and gather data. This can boost their performance, inspiring them to come up with new ideas and strategies to continually improve your plant operations.
Industry 4.0 has yet to dominate the entire manufacturing industry, but the companies who are adopting the technology do realize its potential. Be one of the first to experience it and you may just experience growth way faster than you’ve anticipated.