What will factories look like in the near future? We've seen car production and assembly lines revolutionized by robotics in the last decade. Industrial production is changing as 'smart factory' devices become available to the world of industrial automation. New skills are needed for engineers to run these newly invented machines all over the world.
"In the factory of the future, all individual steps included in the production process will be fully connected and integrated." - RCRWireless.Com
The Internet of Things (IoT) will be featured in the factory of the future due to every single automated machine 'talking' to each other in the production line as they already do. In Korea's North Chungcheong Province, one of the top electric equipment producers has installed "integrated automation systems" into its manufacturing facilities, according to KoreaTimes.
The company, LSIS, is looking into the future of the 'smart' factory. Through what is called a PLC - or programmable logic controller - a factory can fully work by automated means with the assistance of a manufacturing execution system (MES).
An official from LSIS said, "The PLC is at the center of our smart factory system, serving as a brain to manage the whole process like central processing unit (CPU)."
LSIS hopes to develop more technology that will utilize IoT and make the process of manufacturing products that much faster in their smart factories.
The implementation of communications technology will enable smart factories to transfer huge amounts of data in real time and with minimum delays: connect a large number of personal devices with high data security standards
As we've reported, fiber-optic networks have been tested up to 57gbps and could streamline businesses and production lines so that the internet is fast and efficient so that the automated production lines and the employees of a smart factory can work at a fast rate.
In the fourth industrial revolution, the inter-connectivity of devices is imperative to running smart factories of the future. Not familiar with the term 'industry 4.0/ fourth industrial revolution'?
McKinsey.com defines it perfectly:
We define Industry 4.0 as the next phase in the digitization of the manufacturing sector, driven by four disruptions: the astonishing rise in data volumes, computational power, and connectivity, especially new low-power wide-area networks; the emergence of analystics and business-intelligence capabilites ; new forms of human-machine interaction
An added process that needs to occur in a smart factory is the surveillance and security of these vulnerable automated machines interconnected through what is essentially the internet. According to AutomationWorld.com, Siemens offers a system called Plant Security Services that will provide security and network monitoring. They have now opened Cyber Security Operation Centers (CSOC) in Portugal, Germany and the United States because they have seen the industrial security necessity gap in the market. Anything that can be connected to the internet can be hacked and that means security across networks is imperative.
Does your factory abide by some of these principles? If it doesn't, are you doing enough to ensure your factory becomes a smart factory of the future?