The “factory of the future” is the “factory of now”

Smart Factories “Factories of the future” or smart factories can no longer be referenced to a future time.  The “factory of the future” is the “factory of now”— or the “factory of today”. As our manufacturing processes continue to evolve at an ever-increasing speed, we are seeing an influx of automated and IT-driven or “smart” processes that are rapidly increasing efficiency and revolutionizing the workplace. The pace of these changes has never been witnessed before in modern times. Take for instance our changing manufacturing shop floors—in some industries, we are advancing from smart cells and smart lines to entire smart enterprises defined by total interconnectivity—from the front office to the production line. In more extreme cases, innovations and technology changes are reducing some factories to an automated box. These highly evolved, unified plants are becoming capable of running and responding to change with little human intervention, and because of that, we are seeing a shift towards employees that are equipped with high levels of technical expertise and critical thinking skills that enable them to oversee today’s highly automated, computerized operations. So what exactly makes a factory “smart”? Think repeatable events or processes, such as automated machine setups completely run by robotics and software, or sensors and digital readers that efficiently check raw materials out of inventory and auto-track materials as they move from location to location, or “lights out” manufacturing, where machines run with little need for the involvement of people. The possibilities are endless, as are the improvements smart technology can have on a process, its speed and its accuracy. Smart Factory Benefits for the Manufacturing Industry There...