The Agile Smart Factory

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What makes someone smart? Agility might not be the first noun that leaps to mind – after all, it’s a physical trait. However, agility is about more than how quickly you move.
powering intelligent manufacturing

Being agile allows you to make better decisions, and it’s one of the traits Deloitte identifies as making smart factories smart. Read on to learn what agility means and why it matters.

What Does It Take to Achieve Agility?

What’s the first step in achieving agility? As with everything else in the smart factory, it boils down to connectivity.

Connectivity allows information to travel to and from vital systems in manufacturing. Moreover, the people who need that information also have access to it whenever they need it.

Connectivity also allows for data integration to take place. That means that other sources of information can be integrated with data from factory equipment to gain new insights and make better decisions.

What Does It Mean to Be Agile in Manufacturing?

Agile manufacturing means that the factory is flexible and adaptable. What does that look like in real life, though?

An agile factory is one in which managers can make changes to products and schedules without much need for human intervention (and without enormous resulting disruption). Factory layouts and equipment can be reconfigured quickly to accommodate changes in production.

Why Does Agility Matter?

What difference does agility make for smart manufacturing? It can mean the difference between success and failure.

Imagine for a moment that you’ve uncovered an upward trend in demand for a particular product. To satisfy that demand, your factory needs to produce more of that product. Without an agile factory (that’s connected to sources of data that are refreshed in real-time, of course), you can’t make those changes to satisfy your customers. As a result, they’ll turn to your competitors.

We’ll illustrate with the opposite example. Let’s say that what was once your most popular item isn’t such a hot seller anymore. You don’t want to keep producing something that people simply aren’t buying – it’s a waste of time and money. An agile smart factory allows you to quickly adapt so you can start producing something that customers do want.

Agility offers you a competitive advantage. Traditional manufacturing, with information stuck in silos, doesn’t allow manufacturers to be proactive. They can only react, and frequently only after it’s too late. Running your business like that will only lead to you being left in the dust by agile competitors.

Intelligence and agility go hand-in-hand. You need to be smart and stay one step ahead of everyone else in the market. That means being agile and adopting agile manufacturing methods so that you can adapt to changing demands.

Agility isn’t a nice-to-have feature – it’s a must-have. Your smart factory won’t compete unless it’s highly agile. In an environment where the flow of information is virtually non-stop, you can’t afford not to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. Being agile is the way to do that.

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