Deploying technology into a manufacturing environment can be overwhelming. For an industry founded on using manual processes to create tangible goods, it takes confidence – and a more straightforward approach – to shift to a technology-focused business model.
Smart Factory Stumbling Blocks?
Smart manufacturing, Industry 4.0, and the smart factory are terms that all speak to leveraging digital technologies in industrial production. Using digital connections between devices and networks helps operators open up communications to streamline and improve processes.
While the benefits of smart manufacturing are plentiful, it can feel a little daunting to know where to begin.
Industry Week poses that the smart factory revolutionize is stumbling due to a few, specific reasons. From the complexities and limitations of artificial intelligence (AI) to the need for technical standards, cybersecurity to spectrum allocation, there are certainly some high barriers that could be limiting progress.
But while the ideal smart factory may seem unattainable to many manufacturers, are there simpler ways to get started to capture the benefit of Industry 4.0? Actions or areas of technology available and in use today to lower some of the hurdles for operators? SyncFab thinks so.
Simpler, Smarter, SyncFab
Defining the current capabilities of a manufacturing plant, determining where the operation wants to go, and laying out the steps to getting is a classic approach to provide clarity and direction. Becoming a smart factory can be equally effective even if the initial vision is on a smaller scale and many manufacturers might be surprised how close they already are to getting underway and achieving these new goals.
Once a clear direction and a strategy is outlined, it’s time to get the plan underway. The basics of a smart factory include creating a network of connectivity among equipment, incentivizing for action, and achieving insight and security into new processes. When it comes to considering potential stumbling blocks, keep it simple using readily available technologies and tools.
- Challenge: Lack of connectivity or network among machines
Action: At the center of a smart factory is the Internet of Things (IoT), also referred to as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) for manufacturing environments. Understanding, creating an inventory, and connecting the wireless data communication in your plant helps create a pipeline to smarter working.
Many manufacturers may be surprised how many devices in a plant incorporate smart sensor technology or have the ability to transmit data to the cloud of other devices. Get a handle of these assets and a networking plan for this equipment to work smarter for you.
- Challenge: Restricted investment and resources
Action: Maybe you’re a manufacturer of a specialized product or you are a supplier providing precision parts to a targeted audience. Or your manufacturing plant has used up precious capital on CNC machining but is underutilized with capacity for more orders. Either way, saving money and increasing business is good.
Suppliers or buyers of manufactured parts can both benefit from incentives. Tokenization, enabled with blockchain technology, can add economic value and competitiveness to an order or a bid in a manufacturing supply chain.
Incentive tokenization, such as with SyncFab MFG, benefits a buyer by getting a more competitive price for a supply order, ensured order quality, and process transparency and speed. Suppliers can secure more orders, and fill manufacturing capacity, through competitive pricing plus it also makes transactions and order payment faster. Incentive tokenization is a way to make operational budgets work harder and smarter.
- Challenge: Data security
Action: As smart factory changes get underway, how can manufacturers protect the amount of new data generated, information shared, and payments made and received? And, if this is possible, how can a smart manufacturing strategy be implemented that doesn’t cause more complexity?
The blockchain platform offers a chance to implement a simpler, more transparent, and more secure infrastructure for manufacturers to do business. While most recognized as the platform on which cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, operate, blockchain is much more.
SyncFab is designed using the blockchain distributed ledger to add a layer of security and trust throughout manufacturer supply chains. For the smart factory using SyncFab, buyers and suppliers enter into smart contract agreements that not only deliver protection of data and intellectual property but streamline payments and give real-time visibility to the entire process.
As manufacturers wrestle with how to create a smart factory, limiting the complexity – and lowering the risk – using available technologies and proven solutions is a good path forward to avoid stumbling blocks and start realizing the benefits.