What if one day factories could function mostly on their own and self-regulate and self-balance production? What if production intercommunications were all at an all-time-high and real-time level? What if such a production environment could communicate across the entire supply chain spectrum? It has been since the Industrial Revolution that manufacturing and production has gradually become a less and less cumbersome endeavor to monitor input, flow and output and to optimize production methods and overall capacity. Broad advancements in technology have cumulatively altered production; Industry 4.0, IoT and Smart Factory 4.0 is manifesting in our midsts.
As production is maximized with machines and robotics, the need for direct human-oriented labor is lessening. The prior wave of industry revamp is relatively old in terms of "work" when being compared to what production facilities are utilizing to produce output today and as we approach Industry 4.0. Smart Factory and Industry 4.0 has found its way into operations around the globe and is changing the way production facilities function within the supply chain and how supply chains interconnect. The availability of real-time data from the micro to the macro, anywhere on earth, will be just a click or query away.
Smart Factory 4.0
The perks of Smart Factory and Industry 4.0 seem to be endless and scalable in terms of production. As this arriving system is being integrated into factories and supply chains around the world, production is beginning to become infinitely accountable and audit-able. Human intervention is barely needed in some instances and that has great benefits when producing volatile materials such as chemicals and hazardous material ingredients. With each system making decisions on it’s own, facilitating flow based on known machine capacity and up-to-minute feedback data, it produces a self-balancing system that can be viewed and manipulated remotely. There are multiple attributes an operation must need before it is grouped into a Smart Factory 4.0 production facility, these attributes include:
- Decentralization Resolutions - system making decision based off of data presented throughout the production facility
- IT Aid - utilization of system resources to aid humans in complex problem-solving and assistance of tasks that humans are unable to complete
- Systemic Exchange of Information - communication through a network of machines, humans, and the system itself
The perks of this paradigm are extremely beneficial to a facility that is looking for improvement in production and overall efficiency, but along with these perks there are also many drawbacks such as:
- Vulnerability of Susceptible Data - security among systems can become an issue, with the amount of web-usage putting a facility at risk of breaches or exploitations
- Human-Oriented Labor Loss - this is becoming a growing concern as machines are beginning to replace humans in the factory
- Maintenance of Digital Conveyance - overseeing the system can be a challenging aspect based off of human reliability and sustainability
Although these drawbacks are a legitimate concern for the manufacturing industry, Smart Factory 4.0 is still becoming a top choice for operations that are pursuing maximum efficiency. As production facilities are moving toward technology-orientated system integrations, this model could be a step in the right direction.
APS Integration with Smart Manufacturing Technology
Advanced planning and scheduling (APS) systems utilized as a hub that collect data and relay it to upstream or downstream entities are geared very much toward Smart Factory and Industry 4.0. If you are trying to attain Smart Factory 4.0 status, then look into APS as one of the many means to get data cross-integrated and with high visibility.