When the assembly line became the norm in the 1920s, manufacturers who clung to the old way of doing things found themselves losing ground in terms of productivity, efficiency and innovation. The same scenario is being played out today as Industry 4.0 matures. Manufacturers who embrace the smart factory are experiencing previously unimagined boosts in efficiency, quality, worker safety and many other success metrics.
A smart factory or intelligent factory is a flexible, self-adapting manufacturing capability enabled by latest technology to drive efficiency and flexibility. Smart factories are enabled by the fusion of compute and connectivity along with the convergence of operating and information technology, artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Why Smart Factories?
The overarching reason to adopt smart factory principles is to increase competitiveness. Let’s dig a little deeper to see how convergence, IIoT, AI and automation can enable you to add intelligence to existing equipment, capture more data and extract more insight from your operation.
- Boost efficiency while reducing downtime. Use AI to analyze “what if” to better assess probabilities and risks and optimize assets and processes. This can help across many operational areas, including production, supply chain and machine maintenance.
- Accelerate production while increasing quality. Streamline quality assurance processes. For example, machine vision can capture and analyze images to validate product features and check for defects.
- Enhance productivity. Combining automated robotics, AI, cloud computing, IIoT sensors and data analytics can connect production and logistics processes, leading to higher efficiency and business resiliency.
- Lower total cost of ownership. Upgrading proprietary hardware and software with open standards and software-defined platforms running on off-the-shelf industrial PCs and servers can help reduce operational and capital expenses.
- Improve worker safety and job satisfaction. Machine vision and near-real-time analytics can alert workers to unsafe conditions. AI and automation can free workers from tedious, tiring tasks and enable them to focus on higher-value contributions to the factory’s success.
- Tighten inventory and improve logistics. From RFID to GPS tags and real-time fleet tracking, modern asset systems automate tracking, supply live location data and provide layers of intelligence that can help you ensure delivery, protect assets and create efficiencies.
- Increase innovation. When processes and machines run smoothly, and workers are safe and happy, your entire operation can focus on finding new business models, developing new products and increasing customer satisfaction.
Make the Journey Easier (and Faster) by Working with Intel and the IIoT Ecosystem
The benefits of a smart factory are clear. But the path ahead may seem daunting. Creating smart factory unified platforms is a complicated challenge. The good news is that you don’t have to start from scratch. Intel is working to reduce smart factory platform complexity and turn converged technologies into prepackaged building blocks running on open-standard, off-the-shelf devices, industrial PCs, and servers.
Intel’s global partner ecosystem gives you access to market-tested and proven solutions from leading manufacturers, developers and service providers in industrial computing. Their innovations—backed by a growing portfolio of free reference designs, middleware and ready-to-run industrial applications—can help you leap ahead of the competition, reduce costs and increase profits.
For an inspiring example of a manufacturer who has already achieved smart factory success by working with Intel, and is now sharing its learnings and best practices with other manufacturers, read the case study, Converging Technologies Bring the Smart Factory to Life. Or, discover how to get started on your journey to smart factory success with this eguide: Take These Five Crucial Steps to Accelerate Your Digital Transformation.
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