Date: 23/01/2017

Introduction to smart factories, a new big wave in manufacturing

Electronics can be embedded inside machines which are used in factories and can be operated by individuals with ease remotely by letting connected machines and computers to monitor the manufacturing in real time. Although manufacturing industry was using proprietary technologies to connect machines and also make them smarter. The new Internet of things (IOT) is really giving a huge push to this trend by making it more like a standardised way of connecting systems, things and machines.

A smart machine has embedded with intelligence electronics and uses machine to machine communication technology. It includes robots, self-driving cars and other cognitive computing systems that are able to make decisions and solve problems without human intervention.

Smart machines fully utilize technologies such as cloud computing, big data, robotics and Internet of Things.
There are four components that make a machine smart:
Intelligent Capable of operating autonomously
Secure Able to avoid and correct processing errors
Managed Can learn and anticipate future events
Connected Interacts with other machines and systems.

In a world of connected machines products and people processing and distributing information in real time and taking decision by themselves or in a group makes up the smart factory.

Smart factory includes systems such as cyber-physical technologies, where the process is handled by computer which is connected to the internet and its users. Internet of things enables users cyber physical mechanism to connect to each other and human beings in real time. The smart factory provides advanced and automated facilities to make manufacturing process faster , efficient and safer. This help in minimizing the gap between digital world and traditional industrial standard methods.

If you look at the history of manufacturing it can be divided into four phases, each phase is about automation. Basically saving the human being from putting extra effort/enery and time in fabricating or assembling a physical unit.

First Industrial Revolution : It occurred through the introduction of mechanical production powered by water and steam.

Second Industrial Revolution : It occurred with the introduction of mass production based on the division of labor and powered by electrical energy.

Third Industrial Revolution : It occurred with the introduction of electronics and information technology for further automation of production.

The present revolution is about cyber-physical production systems, where everything is connected and intelligent decisions taken with very less human interruption. The term used for this is called industry 4.0

What is Industry 4.0?

The name Industry 4.0 was first formed by the German Government which is the current trend for automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. It represents the implementation of artificial intelligence, big data and the industrial Internet of Things in factories.

Industry 4.0 creates what has been called "smart factory" . The fourth industrial revolution includes cyber physical systems,Internet of things and cloud computing. In modular structured smart factories cyber physical systems monitor physical processes which create a virtual copy of the physical world and make decentralized decisions. In internet of things the cyber-physical systems communicate and cooperate with each other and with humans in real time .

In essence, Industry 4.0 involves the technical integration of the Cyber Physical System (CPS) into manufacturing and logistics and the use of the Internet of Things in industrial processes. CPSs not only network machines with each other, they also create a smart network of machines, properties, ICT systems, smart products and individuals across the entire value chain and the full product lifecycle. Sensors and control elements enable machines to be linked to plants, fleets, networks, and human beings.

Key factors for growth of smart factory:

One of the major factors driving the growth of the smart factory market is the increasing need for improving efficiency, energy saving, saving time, remote management/process control in manufacturing process.

Technology advancements such as machine to machine communication has enabled smart factories to eliminate wastage of time caused due to delay in the process change.

The rise of IoT takes critical role in integrating manufacturing and engineering processes which has given a great leap of growth.

Smart factory is already experiencing immense growth and continue to grow very fast in the coming years in applications more or less in every industry but more so in automotive, mining of minerals and metals,chemicals, pharmaceuticals ,oil and gas etc.

The global market for industrial automation is estimated around 160$ billion in 2012. It is forecasted to reach $200 billion in 2015 according to IMS research . Also the support for development of innovative production technology is expected to further drive the growth of the market in the coming years.

Author: Srinivasa Reddy N
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