You Don’t Need To Build Smart Factories From Scratch

If you’re a manufacturer, you already know the news.

 

“Panic now! Your operations are way behind everyone else! The fourth industrial revolution is upon us! Germany are years ahead of you! You’re going to fall behind! What do you mean you’re not monitoring every element of everything you do?! That’s valuable process data!”

I’m willing to bet you’re getting pretty sick of it, but although these messages are definitely over the top, they’re not all entirely incorrect. Industry 4.0, Smart Manufacturing and the Industrial Internet of Things really are capable of truly transformational change in manufacturing, and when it really starts happening, it’s going to be a true industry disruptor. Think disruptive change of the same ilk as Amazon, Google and Uber. But, before I start to sound hypocritical, it’s not as scary as it sounds. Don’t panic; you don’t need to make lots big changes all at once.

Building smart factories doesn’t need to be an overnight process, and it shouldn’t be. Unless you’re General Electric or Tesla, there’s no way you’ve got the budget to spare for a complete overhaul of your factory floor for digitisation or to build a completely new one from scratch in the desert. Building smart factories needs to be tackled like every other big challenge in life: one step at a time.

I stumbled across this article from Industry Week that describes perfectly for me how IIoT works. Using the analogy of a house, the writer explains that it would be absurd to custom make every door & window you use; but instead, you buy standardised building blocks to reduce costs and work faster. The same goes for factories looking to digitise. The selection of building blocks for IIoT is getting bigger every day, so there truly are solutions for everyone and everything.

A great place for anyone to start would be with remote monitoring. Our software SentiLAN™ can be used to monitor & analyse data from any networked device, including machinery, servers, digital thermometers, I/O collectors and much more. This data then provided back to you in real time allows you to make critical decisions based on what’s happening now, not what happened when the data was last collected. And just like that, you’re on your path to building smart factories.

When the media mention Industry 4.0, Smart Factories and IIoT, you’ll often see futuristic photos of robots and glowing blue lines to represent high-speed data transfers- but the truth is your factory can be smart too- without the humanoid assistant. Take your smart factory journey the same as any other big change, one step at a time, and you’ll be on the right path to a more efficient and productive future. 

Posted by Jordan Maciver on Wednesday, April 12, 2017

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