Since the late 1700s, we have experienced three industrial revolutions. Each one was propelled by new and disruptive technology: the steam engine, the assembly line, and the computer. These technologies were called industrial “revolutions” because the innovation behind them didn’t cause some marginal improvement in productivity and efficiency – it completely revolutionized how goods were produced and how work was completed.

We are now in the fourth industrial revolution, popularly known as Industry 4.0. This is where the Industrial Revolution focuses a great deal on interconnectivity, automation, machine learning, and real-time data. Industry 4.0 consists of IIoT and smart manufacturing combined with physical production. The Smart Manufacturing Solution is powered by technologies such as – Smart digital technology, Cloud computing, Real time analytics, Machine Learning, Big Data to create a more holistic and better-connected ecosystem for companies like yours.

While every manufacturing company operating today is different, one common challenge you must be facing is the need to stay connected and access to real-time insights across processes, partners, products, and people.

Leveraging Industry 4.0 and driving your organization towards Smart Manufacturing or Smart Factory can be of immense benefit to you. In this blog, we will try and answer some of the questions you might be having regarding Smart Factory:

  • What is a Smart Factory?
  • What are the technologies used in Smart Factory?
  • Can you give some Smart Manufacturing Use Cases?
  • How do I evaluate my Smart Factory readiness?
  • How Can Ziffity Help My Business?

What is a Smart Factory?

Before we look at the benefits and use cases of Smart Factory or Smart Manufacturing, let us understand what it is and what it consists of.

A Smart Factory is a highly digitized shop floor where data is continuously collected and shared through connected machines, devices, and production systems. This data can be used by self-optimizing devices across the company to proactively solve issues, improve manufacturing processes and manage new demands.

Technologies such as AI, Big Data Analytics, Cloud Computing, and Industrial IoT (Internet of Things) are used to make smart manufacturing a possibility and absolute. By connecting the physical and digital world, you can monitor the entire production process, from manufacturing tools and the supply chain to individual operators on the shop floor. AWS offers Smart Factory solutions by enabling cloud to connect machinery.

AWS Solution

The Industrial Machine Connectivity (IMC) Solution is designed to support your Industry 4.0 and Smart Factory success which includes:

  • Industrial Machine Connectivity Architecture – With the technical framework to ensure repeatability, the offering is a complete, production-ready solution, scalable across multiple plants in a customer’s organization.
  • Industrial Machine Connectivity Framework – Extract, expose, and visualize locked data with a leading industrial protocol-compatible solution with connectivity to collect, store, and process industrial data. Customers can create virtual assets (plant, line, machine, component, process) and visualize data in near real-time.
  • Deployment Expertise (AWS Professional Services and Partners) – Accelerate your Industry 4.0 journey, while aligning to business goals and outcomes. Customers can deploy production ready connected factory solutions in one plant and then quickly repeat for rapid deployment of remaining plants at scale.
  • AWS Partner Solutions – Gain operational insights for business outcomes with AWS Partner Solutions. Customers can deploy solutions for a wide range of use-cases to improve product quality, lower energy costs, optimize factory output, identify equipment issues, and more.

What are the technologies used in Smart Factory?

There are hundreds of concepts and terms that relate to Industry 4.0 and Smart Factory, but here are some essential terms and technologies to know before you decide to invest in Smart Factory solutions for your business:

  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP): These are centralized business process management tools that can be used to manage information across an organization.
  • Internet of Things (IoT): This concept refers to the connection between physical objects like sensors or machines to the Internet.
  • Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT): This is a relatively new concept that refers to the connections between people, data, and machines that are related to manufacturing.
  • Big Data Analytics: With Big Data Analytics, you can get patterns, trends, associations, and opportunities by analyzing the large sets of structured or unstructured data that your organization has compiled, stored, and organized over the years.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI): This is the concept where a computer system gains the ability to complete tasks and make decisions that usually require some form of human intervention.
  • Machine to Machine: Also known as M2M refers to the communication that happens between two or more separate machines through wireless or wired networks.
  • Machine learning: This is the concept or ability where a computer learns and improves on its own through artificial intelligence without being explicitly told or programmed to do so.
  • Cloud computing: Cloud computing is where interconnected remote servers are used to host, store, manage, and process information on the Internet.

Now that you have a better understanding of some of the core concepts related to Industry 4.0 and Smart Manufacturing, you’re now ready to dig deeper into how smart manufacturing can revolutionize the way you run and grow your business.

Smart Manufacturing Use Cases

Use cases are one of the best ways to understand a concept by providing solutions for real-world problems. To understand Smart Manufacturing, let us think about how it can be applied to your business. Here are some examples where Smart Manufacturing can help you:

  • Supply chain management and optimization – Smart Factory solutions provide you with greater insight, control, and visibility across your entire supply chain. By taking advantage of supply chain management capabilities, you can deliver products and services to your customers quicker, cheaper, and of high quality to gain an edge over your competitors.
  • Predictive maintenance/analytics – Smart Factory solutions give you the ability to predict when potential problems are going to occur before they actually happen. Currently, many factories do not use IoT and conduct preventive maintenance based on routine or time. On the other hand, with IoT systems in place, preventive maintenance can be automated and streamlined. The system can sense when problems are going to occur or which machinery needs to be fixed on priority. This will empower you to solve potential issues before they become more significant problems.
  • Asset tracking and optimization – With Smart Factory solutions, you can become more efficient with your assets at each stage of the supply chain, allowing you to keep a better tab on inventory, quality, and optimization opportunities relating to logistics. With IoT in place, your employees can get better visibility into your assets worldwide. Standard asset management tasks such as asset transfers, disposals, reclassifications, and adjustments can be streamlined and managed centrally and in real-time.

A live example of AWS Smart Factory solution would be the General Electric Case Study:

GE Power’s equipment generates more than 30% of the world’s power. They use data analytics on AWS to help their power plant customers save millions of dollars, by streaming 500,000 data records per second, and scale to support the ingestion of 20 billion sensor-data tags. GE runs its data analytics application on using Amazon Kinesis Data Streams and Amazon Elastic MapReduce. Using AWS, GE Power customers now have better and faster visibility into their power plant operations.

As an example, GE Power recently used their Analytics Application Predix, to promptly identify a problem with a customer’s power plant combustion system. As the issue was revealed early, the customer was able to schedule the equipment shutdown instead of a forced outage which would caused a system shutdown for too long. This led to minimized downtime and loss of revenue for the customer.

We hope these use cases can help you imagine and start thinking about how smart manufacturing could be integrated into your own organization.

How do I evaluate my Smart Factory readiness?

To understand where you are on your journey to becoming a Smart Factory, these four levels of data structure can help evaluate your position.

  • Level One: Available Data
    This is where most organizations are currently situated. They have data but are not easily accessible. The analysis of data is done manually and is a time-consuming task. This adds more inefficiencies to the production process than improvements.
  • Level Two: Accessible Data
    This is the stage where data is available in a more digestible format. The data is structurally organized and appropriately stored in a location. Additional systems are put in place to help visualize the data and display dashboards. The organization can perform proactive analysis, but the whole process is a bit time-consuming.
  • Level Three: Active Data
    This is the first level where real-time data is available. This data can be used to perform predictive analysis using Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to generate insights without much human supervision. The system can find issues and anomalies to predict failures with high accuracy and inform relevant people with the correct information at the right time.
  • Level Four: Action-oriented Data
    This is the final stage of attaining Smart Factory status. By using Machine Learning, you will be able to generate actionable solutions for the issues from earlier stages. The manufacturing machines, devices, and sensors are connected to the ecosystem and are now capable of executing necessary changes without human intervention.

How Can Ziffity Help My Business?

Ziffity can help you implement Smart Factory technology into your manufacturing business. Being AWS experts, we can provide unique and flexible, industry-specific cloud solutions that is designed around the needs of your business, be it manufacturing, distribution, retail, or service industry.

Final Words

You need to use the right tools that can help streamline tasks, boost productivity, and leverage real-time data. This will enable you to build a sustainable, scalable enterprise. Smart Factory solutions from Ziffity can put you on the right track. Are you ready to make the investment?