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– Smart Factory –
Basically, a Smart Factory is a facility where machinery and systems are linked together by modular devices. These devices then allow industrial equipment to learn and adapt their processes, thereby creating a Smart Factory.
This development is in part due to the rise of ‘Big Data’, which is complex information that traditional data-processing applications are unable to manage effectively. It’s the application of this data, which is generated through the device communication mentioned above, which enables benefits such as predictive maintenance, flexible production and energy measurement.
Smart factories use industrial internet and the cloud to connect the real and virtual worlds, resulting in seamless integration of cyber physical systems at all levels, allowing the whole production process to be monitored.
The key to a successful Smart Factory is the interaction at field level. With a unified language, there is communication between machines, enabling full integration across the whole factory. This communication functionality doesn’t need to be built into the machine. Instead, flexible modular devices can be added to capture, process and transfer data throughout all levels of the factory.
Industry 4.0 and the Smart Factory
The First Industrial Revolution marked the movement from pure human labor to using machines. Steam engines also appeared helping move things along further and more quickly. Next came electricity, and with it, mass production. The Third Industrial Revolution saw the rise of computers, more automation, and the replacement of some human labor. Now, we are entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0, in which these machines interact and learn from each other with little to no human interference.
With Industry 4.0 we are seeing the smart factory. A smart factory is a physical manufacturing system connected by AI, IoT, and tons of data in the cloud that teach the systems to work by themselves and make improvements without human involvement.