In the manufacturing industry, the concept of the “smart factory” is gaining traction as a means to increase efficiency and competitiveness. A smart factory leverages advanced technologies, such as automation, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning (ML) and more to gather data and optimize production processes. Read on for how modern advancements are actively shaping the future of the manufacturing industry.
Advancements in automation and Industry 4.0 technologies
Automation involves using technology to perform tasks that were previously done by humans. Automation tools can help increase productivity, reduce errors and improve product quality across manufacturing floors. The growth of automation is driven by increasing adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies and the need for cost-effective and efficient manufacturing processes.
On this note, Industry 4.0, also known as the fourth industrial revolution, refers to the integration of advanced technologies such as AI, IoT and robotics into the manufacturing process. This increasing interest in Industry 4.0 can be attributed to factors such as the need for increased productivity alongside the desire to reduce costs.
According to a Deloitte survey, the majority of manufacturers have plans to focus on a range of technologies to increase operational efficiencies in 2023. Robotics and automation are at the forefront of their minds at 62%, but data analytics follow closely at 60%. Meanwhile, 39% of those surveyed noted IoT as a means to improve efficiency.
Growing use of smart factory initiatives
A smart factory is a highly digitized and connected solution that relies on data and advanced technologies such as IoT, AI and ML to improve efficiency and quality across entire manufacturing facilities.
For example, manufacturing companies are investing in cloud technologies, 5G and edge computing to lay the groundwork that drives competitive advantages. These companies are also likely to work alongside partners across their respective value chains. A Deloitte outlook report found that 61% of manufacturing leaders said they’re partnering with specialized companies to enhance their smart factory initiatives. Meanwhile, in-house development efforts accounted for 30% of those surveyed.
Sustainable manufacturing and social responsibility
Manufacturers should monitor the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) landscape in order to adhere to the latest rules and regulations as well, Deloitte noted. A key consideration pertains to managing waste because about 25% of manufacturing executives noted that developing better waste management capabilities for recycling purposes can make for sustainable operations. Facilities with net-zeo factory goals, for example, can use a multi-tier approach and invest in solutions that reduce water usage and waste.
Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important topic for manufacturers as concerns about the environment from consumers continue to grow alongside factors such as government regulations.
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