What the best have that you need
Factories have always striven for efficiency and optimization. That’s nothing new, but what is ever-evolving is technology to accomplish those goals. As the last two years have taught, digitalization is an absolute must now for smooth operations. Those who had already leaned into digitalization found their transition to the COVID era much easier than those who didn’t. So did those who acted quickly once the pandemic hit. It’s not too late to modernize, and the innovations won’t stop coming. Here’s what sets a smart factory apart.
Finding items quickly and easily amid the vastness of a warehouse is an absolute must. An intelligent RFID tag like AirFinder Bluetooth Low Energy can make yours a truly smart factory. The BLE tags save energy by spending most of their latent. Periodically, they “wake up” and report their locations to nearby Bluetooth beacons, along with important data such as temperature and humidity. The BLE tags can cost less than $15 and last up to three times longer than traditional RFID tags, meaning a smart factory can cut location tracking costs by around 90%.
Analytical preventive maintenance
Keeping an eye on equipment to resolve potential operational problems before they become a major headache and shut down machines is a tried-and-true practice. In any well-run factory, you fix things before they’re broken. Industrial Internet of Things devices collect thousands of data points from machines and processes, meaning your smart factory can save downtime by analyzing wear and tear, age, and any inefficiencies to let you know the instant things aren’t working as they should. Products such as Senseye promise to cut downtime in half and boost productivity by 50% or more, with your investment paid back in the space of a single quarter.
AGV Lift Trucks
Automated guided vehicles such as those from Mitsubishi Logisnext Americas integrate with fab software to move materials from one work station to the next as soon as they’re ready, saving the time and effort of having a person carry them over. At TRUMPF Group’s 24,000-square-foot smart factory, “We can see what parts are moving from one station to the next, which means improved throughput,” central services manager Robert Leahy told Modern Materials Handling. “There’s no overburden going on in our facility. We have the right parts at the right machine to produce and meet the customer’s order on time.”
At your fingertips, you have a concise visual representation of everything happening in your factory, from inventory to processes, almost in real time. Rather than walking the floor every time you need to find something or check on readiness, you can see it as they happen onscreen, allowing for quick decisions and maximum uptime. Google’s Supply Chain Twin and Supply Chain Pulse keep track on what’s in the factory, what’s going out, and what’s coming in. They visualize “alerts and tracks ‘action item’ workstreams; provides mobile alert delivery to predefined users via email, calendars, and shared docs; and enables collaboration across teams with alert-driven shared workflows and ‘action item’ workstreams,” Google says.
A Powerful Cloud
With all that data your smart factory is collecting, you need a computing system that handles and makes sense of it all. Deloitte and Amazon Web Services have come up with a Smart Factory Fabric platform that synchronizes people, assets, and processes to keep things running smoothly and efficiently. The system can sense when quality is degrading and enact quick solutions to keep quality up, and it tracks worker safety and performance. It promises 20% more efficient assets, 30% better product quality and cost reduction, and 10% improved safety & sustainability.
With so much information about your operations on the cloud, you need strong protection, especially as threats become more prevalent. You have intellectual property and employee data to safeguard, and more access points to them than ever. ESentire’s risk monitoring and threat hunting programs help you stop cyberattacks in their tracks and respond immediately to control any breaches. They also protect against risk in the supply chain and from third parties. Those are the tools you need to keep your smart factory secure.