Organisations around the world are constantly looking for ways of working more efficiently. For companies in the manufacturing or processing sectors, one of the most effective means of attaining such levels of competency and, ultimately, increasing levels of profitability, is via the use of smart factory automation.

But what exactly is a smart factory, and what should a truly ‘smart’ factory contain?

What is a smart factory?

A smart factory is one that has a focus on artificial intelligence, robotics and automated processes that ensure production is efficient, energy is not wasted, and output can be scaled up or down depending on demand.

By focusing on AI and data, companies can be sure that the decisions they are making and the actions they have implemented are efficient, and can alter them in real-time should there be a more efficient and alternative way available.

Through collecting, analysing and subsequently utilising data, the smart factory automation is capable of ‘learning’ and figuring out how systems can be used to the greatest effect.

By understanding levels of inventory, consumer demand, energy usage and by monitoring the health of pieces of machinery, for example, smart factories can streamline entire processes.

What are the five key elements of smart factory automation?

1. Connectivity

One of the key components of the smart factory is that the entire operation works harmoniously. Data collected from each and every business function and section will play a key role in finding efficiencies.

2. Optimisation

The overarching goal of the smart factory is to minimise waste, whether that be in regard to time, energy or materials.

3. Transparency

A truly smart factory is able to track performance in real time. This means the decisions can be made second by second, if necessary, to make everything run smoothly.

4. Proactivity

Smart factories, when utilising the right levels of data, can predict challenges, problems or hurdles before they arise. Maintenance and restocking can, therefore, be scheduled well in advance of any issues occurring.

5. Agility

The ultimate benefit of the smart factory is that it can scale up or down to match business needs. A flexible approach is crucial if a manufacturer or processer is to wring extensive profits out of its operation.

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