There are a number of benefits that can be realised by making the move to smart manufacturing; improved productivity, increased agility, reduced costs and workplace injuries, all while creating opportunities for innovation. The general consensus is that creating a smart factory make commercial sense. For example, Capgemini estimates they could nearly double the operating profit and margin for the average automotive OEM manufacturer.
However, many manufacturers don’t have the capacity or revenue to develop factories from the ground-up with IIoT capabilities built into the foundations. They are often working on brownfield sites with a combination of new and existing machinery that is unable to capture and provide the real time information expected of a truly “smart” factory.
So how can you take steps towards IIoT and Smart Manufacturing without large-scale investment? And once you’ve established your smart factory, how can you keep at the cutting edge?
Introduce smart factory components
You don’t need a brand-new facility to realise the power of smart manufacturing. At EG Electronics Display and Systems, we provide a range of IIoT-enabled solutions that can be readily installed within your existing infrastructure. Our Centre of Excellence team will work with you to build a network that combines IIoT modules and sensors with your existing hardware to allow them to communicate with each other and record valuable data on productivity and downtime.
Augment the human element
Traditionally the implementation of technology in factory settings has been seen as competition to the workforce. However, as smart factories become more established, this perception is changing from competition to complementary. Rather than replacing the ‘people’ element, new IIoT technology is more about how it can fit into existing workflows. With human intelligence accentuated by cognitive computing, this holistic approach improves the productivity and profitability of your business.
One of the biggest risks in manufacturing is human error which can cause reduced productivity and workplace injuries on the factory floor. Automated processes reduce the chance of human error in terms of workplace accidents and bottlenecks in the production line. By extending automation out into other areas of the factory, for example in packaging or distribution, both efficiency and safety can be improved.
Increase the use of AI
AI and AR (Artificial Reality) help businesses to model processes virtually in order to identify areas for improvement without causing disruption on the production line. As with any digital technology it is important to make sure that you are keeping up to date with any new product enhancements that come onto the market. New technologies not only improve the efficacy of AI, but it also widens the scope to see issues in areas of the factory that were previously left unattended.
Move to 5G
With manufacturers now utilising large data sets to inform them about their business, it is imperative that they have a strong and reliable connection that they can use to send and receive the data. While WiFi and Bluetooth connections are relatively reliable, they cannot compete with the strength of 5G. As a result, it is likely that we will see a rise in the use of 5G as it becomes widely available alongside more traditional network solutions.
Strengthen your cybersecurity
As the use of data and AI systems becomes more widespread in the supply chain, cybercriminals are going to become more aware of manufacturing as a prime target for attacks. In fact, the Manufacturing Cybersecurity Threat Index revealed that one in five firms has been targeted by cyberattacks. With large amounts of sensitive company data now being transmitted in everyday processes, it is important that both company servers and cloud storage accounts are kept safe. A constantly evolving cybersecurity strategy is therefore needed to keep you one step ahead of the criminals.
Whether you are taking your first steps or well established in smart manufacturing, it is important that you keep innovating with new technology. At EG Display and Systems, we can guide you through the entire smart factory journey from planning to implementation.
For more information and helpful advice on what technology would work for your business, contact us here.