To make the dive into a smart factory, manufacturers need to integrate several elements of cutting-edge technology. Those involving Internet of Things (IoT), analytics, cloud computing, smart conveyance systems, artificial intelligence and augmented or virtual reality—all fundamentals of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

FREMONT, CA: A recent study shows that the potential of a smart factory involves solving any number of manufacturers’ problems—from low productivity increase to uncompetitive operations. Besides, a survey comprising the executives of manufacturing companies signifies that smart factories promise to be a game-changer for the industry, resulting in a tripling of efficiency improvements over the next decade.

To make the dive into a smart factory, manufacturers need to integrate several elements of cutting-edge technology. Those involving Internet of Things (IoT), analytics, cloud computing, smart conveyance systems, artificial intelligence and augmented or virtual reality—all fundamentals of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

As per the survey, there involve three categories of aspirants, based on their current level of progress: trailblazers, made up of rapid implementers of the latest technology; explorers, open to experimenting but not yet willing to commit fully to the initiative, and followers, who are waiting for things to be proven out. The leading group saw a 20 percent boost in factory capacity utilization when employing smart technologies, while explorers and followers together experienced an 11 percent development.

Additional improvements on the factory floor are seen in the form of higher labor productivity and production output. Trailblazers further distinguish themselves by devoting more resources to smart technologies—approximately two-thirds of their manufacturing budgets, against around 30% for explorers and followers. Specific applications of smart technology include robotics, automation hardware and software, active sensors, edge computing, IoT, vision systems, wearables, blockchain, AR, and VR.

The smart factory can potentially ignite stalled labor output and unlock the key to productivity for manufacturers. Additionally, intelligent factories are the solution to the growing skills gap in the manufacturing industry. Leaders who invested most of their budgets in smart capabilities did not experience a general increase in spending. They shifted from spending money on old technology over new. What’s more, the retrofitting of existing tools with smart sensors can be comparatively inexpensive.

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