Smart Manufacturing – the future of the manufacturing industry
New technologies are used in many areas of life. One of them is the industry, where advanced technologies have been used for years and bring many benefits to the factories. Significant impact on technological development and improvement of innovativeness of manufacturing companies had implementation of smart solutions based on advanced IT technologies. One of them is Smart Manufacturing, which helps to increase production efficiency by drawing knowledge from data generated in production processes.
What is the Smart Manufacturing?
Smart Manufactuirng is a concept that includes full system integration with associated production units that are able to react in real time and adapt to changing environmental conditions to meet the requirements of the entire supply chain. Implementation of the smart production system supports the process of optimization of production processes, increasing the profits of industrial enterprises.
The Smart Manufactuirng concept is closely related to such concepts as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) or cloud computing. What these three concepts have in common is data – the idea of Smart Manufacturing assumes that the information in them is available whenever it is needed and in the form in which it is most useful. Data analysis has the greatest impact on process optimization and makes it more efficient.
Key role of IIoT
We have already written about the Internet of Things (IoT) in a separate article. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is nothing more than using the potential of IoT in the industry. The IIoT concept has found perfect application in the intelligent production system. Actually, we can say that Smart Manufacturing is mainly based on using IIoT.
In an intelligent production model, people, machines and processes are connected to each other by using information systems. Each machine is equipped with sensors that collect relevant data about its operation. This data is sent to the cloud, where it is analyzed in detail. The information obtained from this data gives employees an insight into the exact course of the process, so they are able to predict failures and prevent them earlier, avoiding possible downtime. In addition, companies can study trends in the data, or perform various simulations based on them. The integration of all elements of the production process also allows for remote monitoring of the process in real time, as well as reacting to possible irregularities. All these activities would not have been possible without the use of IIoT technology.
Growing importance of Artificial Intelligence
Another of the modern technological solutions that are used in the intelligent production system is Artificial Intelligence. Over the last few years we could observe a significant increase in the implementation of Artificial Intelligence solutions in production. This was possible due to the implementation of IIoT devices, which provide huge amounts of data, used by AI. Artificial Intelligence algorithms analyze the obtained data and search for irregularities in it. Moreover, they have the ability to make automatic decisions based on the collected data. Moreover, Artificial Intelligence is able to predict problems before they occur and take appropriate steps to mitigate their effects.
Advantages for the company
Implementation of Smart Manufacturing technology in factories can bring a number of benefits, especially in the production area. Smart Manufacturing allows to improve efficiency – through access to data about the entire process it is possible to react quickly to possible irregularities or adjust the process to current needs (greater flexibility). This allows companies to avoid many unwanted events, such as breakdowns, which has a positive impact on cost optimization and improves the profitability of the company. Another advantage is a better use of machines and equipment, by monitoring them on an ongoing basis, companies can control their usage, anticipate failures or plan downtime more efficiently. As a result, productivity and even product quality can be improved. The use of SM also allows for real time data visualization, which enables remote process management as well as monitoring. Moreover, the virtual expression of the process provides a lot of contextual information, which is necessary to improve it. On the basis of collected data, companies can also perform various types of simulations, or predict trends or potential problems, which significantly improves forecasting. It is also worth mentioning that implementation of modern solutions such as Smart Manufacturing in the company increases their innovativeness, which makes the companies more competitive and is perceived as an attractive workplace, which in turn can involve new employees.
Will automation make people unemployed?
Along with technological development and increasing automation of processes, fears of job losses have also increased. Nothing could be further from the truth – man still plays a key role in the intelligent production concept. The responsibility of employees to control processes or make critical decisions remains the same. However, they will be supported by data provided by machines in real time. The cooperation between man and machine will make it possible to increase the operational efficiency of an intelligent company.
Therefore, technological development does not aim to eliminate people, but rather supports them. What is more, the combination of human experience and creativity with the increasing capabilities of machines enables the implementation of innovative ideas that can have a real impact on improving production efficiency. Consequently, the demand for new specialists will start to grow on the labour market, which will ensure that the manufacturing industry will not stop hiring people.
Intelligent production is an integral part of the fourth industrial revolution that is happening nowadays. The combination of machines and information systems has opened up new opportunities in the manufacturing industry, allowing companies to realistically increase the efficiency of their processes, increasing their profitability. Smart Manufacturing is all about huge amounts of data that are analyzed and transmitted in real time to everyone involved, and the information they contain supports critical decisions and contributes to continuous process improvement.
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