Industry 4.0 and Smart Factory are often interchangeable terms. This is a topic I recently explored in my Insight article ‘How do I move to Industry 4.0 without breaking the bank?’. However, you could equally see Smart Manufacturing solutions as steps on the road to Industry 4.0. So, what are these ‘easy wins’ for manufacturing?
Do You Use What You Already Have?
It may well be that you have machinery or Smart Technologies with data gathering capabilities. It may be they’re not connected or you’re simply unaware of their existence!
Also, teams will have data available that could be of much more value when shared. This ‘Dashboard of Dashboards’ approach to existing data may bear real fruit without requiring new machinery or systems.
Do not Run Before You Can Walk
In addition to using the data you already have, introducing key sensors to machinery can bring real benefit with minimal outlay. The increase in availability of wireless sensors, and the communications technologies supporting these, brings opportunities to gather rich data on processes. Make better decisions and model behaviours based on the data from your machinery and manual processes.
Predictive Maintenance and Downtime
Moving from preventive to predictive maintenance could pay dividends with a minimal outlay. Gathering data from existing and new sources can feed a ‘Machine Learning’ engine with the data it needs. Tool wear or the optimal lubrication regime are model parameters that use such data.
There are now systems available to measure and model machine downtime, which increases utilisation levels with no additional inputs needed.
Digital Transformation is not a linear process. Be willing to learn from your mistakes, keep things simple and make use of bounded pilot schemes. You do not need Robots, Big Data and a Private 5G system to deliver successful Smart Manufacturing solutions.
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