The manufacturing industry now stands as one of the most notable examples of the power of innovation and industrial breakthroughs. With the continuous advancements in IIoT technology, factories are in a constant change unlocking endless smart factory possibilities with the integration of technology to connect production, people, real-time data, processes, supply chain, and most importantly customer experience.
As with any new developments, there are often misconceptions and confusion surrounding smart factories and IIoT smart factory technology. Chances are you’ve heard many inaccurate assumptions about IIoT technology and haven’t had the time to further investigate the truth leading you to believe that IIoT technology is not the right fit for your operations. However, the reality is that for growing operations looking to expand into new markets, embark on digital transformation and streamline processes, smart factory technology is the next logical step.
Many manufacturing executives are catching up to the innovation train and it’s no surprise that the smart factory market was valued at USD 252.29 billion in 2019, and it is expected to reach USD 427.37 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 9.22% during the forecast period (2020-2025).
Below, we have debunked several common myths about smart factory technology to help you learn its’ true benefits and determine fit for your operations.
Myth 1: Technology Will Replace Humans
In automation terms, the mechanical muscle of robots and cobots have become an integral part of manufacturing industries such as Food and Beverage, CPG, Automotive, Steel, Industrial Packaging to name a few. However, today’s automaton goes beyond the physical creation of goods.
The threat of these automated machines is often seen as a risk for job security for manufacturing workers and while this may be true when it comes to physical labor requirements on the shop floor, there is a whole world of digital technologies such as IIoT smart factory technology that still requires some human intervention.
While it’s true that implementing smart factory software will reduce the amount of labor needed during operations, workers are still required for some supervisory control, data acquisition, and management.
Workers are still needed to ACT on the real-time data that is automatically collected by smart factory technology to make smart decisions. Smart factory software provides the necessary visualization of this data throughout the factory, however, it’s up to the workers to make smart, data-driven decisions around day to day process optimization.
Workers are also needed to develop a continuous improvement culture that utilizes information gathered from smart factory technology to create, experiment, implement, and measure process improvement ideas.
Investing in IIoT technology is investing in your future workforce. Having an ecosystem of complex and sophisticated new tools, such as a smart factory IIoT platform with reporting and analytics is key to attracting the right, skilled workers and sustaining younger workers who are looking for more than a job and want to build their careers and advance their skills in the industry.
Myth 2: Smart Factory Solutions Are Too Expensive
One of the most common myths is that smart factory IIoT software costs too much. In reality, IIoT solutions can end up saving you money and resource time. Today’s innovative smart factory technology is primarily cloud-based which means no additional hardware is necessary to get the system up and running. You also don’t have to waste precious resource/IT time installing complex infrastructure.
Learn how Shoplogix helped leading EMEA Packaging Manufacturer save €800,000 per annum by improving data visibility, increasing OEE by 20.75%, and driving operator accountability.
How exactly does smart factory technology help save manufacturers money? Think of it this way. Shop floor machines can generate mountains of data every minute. Using inexpensive IoT devices such as smart sensors, smart factory technology can tap into the pulse of these machines (even legacy machines) to extract meaningful real-time data to provide actionable insights to reduce bottlenecks, improve productivity, and employee engagement.
These improvements, in turn, create a significant positive financial impact on your operations’ bottom line. With the right smart factory technology vendor, manufacturers can realize fast ROI and establish long-term, sustainable process improvements to future-proof operations. The question is, can you afford to miss out on this opportunity in such an increasingly competitive market?
Myth 3: IIoT Solutions Can’t Integrate with Existing Systems
It’s not uncommon to see systems such as MES, MRPs, ERPs, and even legacy manufacturing systems on factory floors. These systems often have a long-standing history with the operations. The myth that IIoT solutions cannot integrate with these existing systems often deter manufacturers from implementing new i4.0 technology.
The truth is that with the right smart factory technology vendor, existing systems such as MEs, MRPs, and ERPs can be integrated with the solution for bidirectional information exchange creating seamless data flow with centralized information.
Myth 4: It’s Too Difficult to Implement The Systems
The beauty of cloud-based software is that you can quickly connect all types of machinery and systems to enable accurate real-time data collection, immediately. Working with the right software vendor is also important to gain extensive industry-specific experience which means that they will know how to help you quickly create intuitive and customized dashboards within the system that deliver actionable information to the right person at the right time.
Cloud-based smart factory solutions are often rolled out with ease across multiple lines, areas, factories, locations, etc. eliminating the high price tag often associated with these types of on-premises solutions. Also, cloud smart factory technology deployments typically take 3 months to implement – compared to the full year that it can commonly take to roll out on-premises solutions.
Myth 5: Smart Factory Technology is Not Accessible Shop Floor Wide
This myth couldn’t be further from the truth! Smart factory technology enables access to all information on the production process at any time, whether it’s on your smartphone, shop floor monitors, or computers. Critical real-time operations data can also be viewed remotely by management and executives 24/7 for advanced monitoring. The ability to view actionable insights in multiple facilities, lines, and locations at any time also enables executives to make decisions beyond just a single plant to determine the most efficient way to drive smart factory projects forward to become innovative champions.
This type of intelligent production system provides immediate and broader data access throughout the entire production process and from the shop floor to the top floor. Being able to access production data in real-time enables manufacturers to optimize their processes, increasing efficiency, and reducing waste and machine downtime. This leads to impactful improvements in productivity, energy consumption, quality control, greater labor management, and scheduling, and more!
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