The Power of a Smart Factory

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Smart manufacturing is said to be the future; however, you can’t have smart manufacturing in place without a smart factory to support processes.

Tech Target defines a smart factory as,

“Used by manufacturing companies, a smart factory works by employing technology such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, analytics, big data and the internet of things (IoT) and can run largely autonomously with the ability to self-correct.”

By leveraging advanced technologies and replacing manual, human centric labour will soon be the only way factories operate.

In this article, we will explore the impact smart factories are having on the world and how human beings are still a key part of these developments.

Human-centric design

At the core of any legitimate smart factory design, human usability is crucial for optimising on site procedures and processes.

Logistics operators and factory owners looking to implement smart tech into their businesses, must take time to sit with their employees and take a deep dive into the way in which they function within any given are or space within the factory.

Further, it’s important for operators to consider how integrating advanced technological factory solutions will further support workers without causing any

Upskilling

In this day and age being a so called ‘skilled’ factor worker involves knowledge that is currently on its way to being obsolete.

The simple fact is, machines are now performing tasks that people used to, therefore it’s crucial for logistics operators to ensure their current staff members are continuously upskilling and learning how to co-exist in a smart factory setting.

A Deloitte logistics study outlines the following, “Adding and growing skills is one of

the biggest issues facing organizations in this domain; just 14 percent of C-level manufacturing leaders in a recent global quantitative survey strongly agreed their organizations currently possess the skills they will need in the future.”

Factory workers across the globe should embrace new skills to support smart factories and guarantee their place as systems evolve. New skills include IT (Information Technology), engineering, user interface design, programming, data management and 3PL WMS (Warehouse Management Software) knowledge.

Early adopters

Evidence suggests that early smart factory adopters have seen significant benefits of the digitization of their operations.

Deloitte states, “In the United States alone, 86 percent of manufacturers believe

that smart factories will be the main driver of competition by 2025.”

Many operators around the world see the benefits of embracing smart factory technology. Beyond critical cost savings, these systems are far more reliable that human labour.

“Powered by data from throughout the connected factory, leaders can create new processes to optimize operations and leverage technologies such as AI to make sense of data and anticipate, sense, and respond to shifts in the environment.”, Deloitte further states.

In 2020, COVID-19 has proven challenger for manufacturers globally, however those who were early adopters of AI, machine learning and warehouse software were far more secure than operators solely reliant on people.

At the end of the day, people get sick, can be late and unreliable, robots and machines however can work through even the most challenging times on Earth, including a global pandemic.

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