During 2020’s Digital Manufacturing week Total Control Pro, New Intelligence Ltd, Voyage 360, Mechatronic, Robopod® and MCS Control Systems Ltd came together to prove how manufacturing technology can work together to benefit UK manufacturing and beyond. The collaboration, revealed the journey of building a smarter factory through a Digital Twin that allows you to see the technology in action in a factory environment. No more reading about what a smart factory could be, now you can physically see what’s possible for yourself!

What is a Smart Factory?

A true smart factory can be defined as a factory that uses fully connected and flexible systems. This connectivity enables a constant stream of data from synchronised operations and production systems to learn and adapt to new demands. Instead of just gathering various bits of data from various parts of your plant, smart factories can integrate data from system-wide physical, operational, and human assets to create informed business decisions.

Acknowledging Your Current Factory

The first stage of creating a Smart Factory is acknowledging the factory you currently have. After all, it has got you to where you are today! Once you have identified what is working from your current systems and what challenges you’re facing, you then have the opportunity to take corrective action one step at a time.

The Components of a Smart Factory

Many manufacturers already have implemented some components of a smart factory. For example, you may have tools that automate elements of the supply chain like barcode scanners, and different tools that automate various manufacturing stages like robotics. But often, these automations are disconnected from each other. Lack of connectivity between machines and across lines of business mean that people have to keep checking disparate data sets to identify problems or opportunities for improvement. A true smart factory means that none of these data becomes isolated.

Other components you can implement to make your factory smarter include;

  • Integrating real-time production data with predictive inventory and purchase management systems so your stock can align with your production schedule like you can with the TotalControlPro™ Inventory Module.
  • Using machine learning to automatically analyse data gathered by sensors and monitoring devices on equipment that recognise opportunities to improve efficiency. From there, intelligent software can actually change the parameters machines use to function, automatically implementing process improvements.
  • Making better use of robotics solutions, such as drones to handle repetitive tasks that previously required human intervention freeing up human operators to focus on other tasks.
Smart Factory Processes

Table 1 shows a series of core smart factory production processes with examples of opportunities for digitisation.

Smart Factories of the Future

Struggling to picture your factory getting smarter? Take a look at our complete digital twin to see a connected factory in action. Connectivity enables multiple opportunities to reshape the ways in which value is captured. In other words, it allows you to turn data into insight, and insight into action. Not only will you be connecting assets, processes and machines, but you’ll be able to connect people across the factory too – from shop floor to top floor!

If you are ready to discuss making your factory smarter then take the first step – Book a Demo today!

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