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21 September 2017

3 Common Myths about the Smart Factory

Jan Brettmann

Jan Brettmann

Sales Manager

3 Common Myths about the Smart Factory

Smart factories may not be a new term within the manufacturing world but that doesn’t mean the concept is any less important. Innovation has become the name of the game and many manufacturing executives are scrambling to keep ahead of the pack. The main driver of this innovation rat race of course is technology. The improvements in technology and speed in which it is now being applied is driving advancements in all industries (not only manufacturing) and is absolutely mind boggling. So, it is no wonder that we have come to a point where we are moving on from “Smart Tv’s” to “Smart Factories”.

These terms have been developed due to a new change within industrial production, the reasons why these changes are beginning to occur is because of what is being called cyber-physical systems (CBS) and the Internet of Tings (IoT). In simpler terms technology has now come so far that it can be integrated into every aspect of a physical machine to collect data, analyse and then improve its functions. The increase in technology has allowed the integration of sensors, processors, software and other IT technology to improve the way industrial manufacturing is conducted.

This is a huge deal for all involved in the manufacturing world, because quite drastically the industry is changing overnight. The rapid increase in development is leading to a new world of possibilities for integration of production, supply chain and most importantly real-time customer preferences. Not only in the systems and processes used in manufacturing and logistics but in the actual facilities themselves (hence leading to the term “Smart Factories”). This is causing a rat race for manufacturers and suppliers to match the demands of these Cyber Physical Systems.

But as with any new developments there are often misconceptions and confusion, below I have outlined several misconceptions that have been circulated about Smart Factories.

1. Cyber-Physical Systems don’t integrate into existing processes

A common misconception is that these Cyber-Physical systems or basic robots won’t be able to easily integrate into existing manufacturing and logistics systems. This seems to stem from the fact that when facilities are running close to no automation the idea of integrating any automation can be daunting. Generally, people seem to think that a facility should either consist of Cyber-physical systems or humans, were in real life facilities generally have a blend of the two.

2. These Systems are Too Expensive

These same technological advancements that have caused this “Industry 4.0” and driven the development of “smart factories” are driving the prices down on the same systems. The increase in a number of cultural factors such as crowdfunding and venture capital has also caused these robotic systems to drop in price to a point where it could cost you more NOT to invest. The ROI (Return on Investment) period is significantly shorter than what many manufacturers may be inclined to believe.

3. Too Difficult to Program The Systems

Once again this is a myth totally blown out of proportion. Many of these new systems can now be managed from the comfort of your home. These programs most commonly come with apps which you can download and then program the systems simply and easily in a fashion that suits your facility and processes.

So, we can see that this sudden boom in technology is leading to extraordinary developments within the industrial world. But this isn’t something executives should shy away from, in fact it should be something they embrace. It may even lead to an improvement in all facets of organisational performance. The team here at FlexQube is looking at tackling these huge changes head on, some of our plans over the next few years is to help our customers navigate their way through these changes. We are striving to build on the modular system we have to today by incorporating additional features to our carts, such as sensors and a data tracking platform so that you can ensure your Flexqube carts are running at optimal performance, and this is only the beginning of our journey moving forward. While the future of smart factories and Industry 4.0 can be daunting, there are also many exciting possibilities that lie ahead!

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