What makes a factory smart? Is it the people who work within it? Is it the way it’s designed? Is it what it manufactures? At the end of last August, Deloitte came up with an answer to those questions. A smart factory is one that, among other things, is proactive.
What does it mean to be proactive? Read on as we explain how a factory can be proactive and why it matters.
Connectivity: A Crucial Component for a Proactive Smart Factory
One crucial part of being a proactive smart factory is connectivity. Connectivity refers to a fully connected and automated system. Equipment has built-in sensors that constantly transmit data to the people and systems that need it most.
Moreover, connectivity gives factories the ability to integrate data from system-wide physical, operational, and human assets to drive manufacturing and other types of activities across the entire manufacturing network. Without connectivity, smart factories could not be proactive.
What Does It Mean to Be Proactive?
Computers and factory equipment can be proactive, too. How does that work? Sensors interpret data in real time so decision makers can make the right choices. We’ll illustrate with a few examples.
Today’s equipment has sensors that can detect if there’s a flaw in raw materials or a finished product. If smart equipment finds a defect, it can alert managers there’s a problem. Instead of finding a problem after dozens (or even more) defective products are manufactured, production can be corrected immediately.
What if the supplier of those raw materials has constant quality issues? Equipment with built-in sensors can detect patterns and notify managers before the problem spirals out of control. Constant quality issues could lead to costly recalls, which is not a desirable situation.
Another example is when raw materials run low. Normally, you don’t do anything about it until you absolutely need to, because you don’t know what’s going on with your inventory. Smart containers tell you when raw materials slip below a certain level and will automatically order them.
Proactive equipment helps increase safety levels in factories, too. Automated forklifts can be equipped with cameras so they don’t collide with human workers on the factory floor. That reduces the number of injuries.
Why Does Proactivity Matter?
So, why is it important that a factory is proactive? Being proactive saves you money and makes your factory more efficient.
Instead of waiting passively to discover that there are quality problems with products or raw materials, you can know about them before wasting thousands of dollars. You also save valuable time by ordering raw materials before they run out, meaning you can get back to manufacturing faster. Reducing injuries is also an important capability.
A proactive smart factory allows you to anticipate what’s around the corner, making you not just smart, but brilliant.