Technologies enabling smart factories to self-adapt

Judging by the headlines, continuous logistics issue, continued pandemic restrictions. and rising prices for raw materials will mean that manufacturers have their work cut out for 2022.

In addition, the drive towards sustainability is adding presure to readjust the manufacturing footprint.

Most manufacturers are still stuck with a geographic footprint, which was driven by labour arbitrage around the globe, rather than by tattoos such as closeness to customers or ecological concerns.

To increase efficiency, many producers have started to implement Industry 4.0 technologies. Industry 4.0 came with the promise of a smart factory being profitable at the production lot size of one unit.

The concept was introduced at the brink of the millennium change with the introduction of cyber-physical systems to share, analyse and guide intelligent actions for various processes in the industry to make the machines smarter and to lower downtime.

Analytics can also be used for other aspects like logistics, demand forecasts. production scheduling and quality control, capacity utilisation and efficiency boosting.

But we will stand at the beginning for leveraging the true potential of Industry 4.0. Smart technologies offer no less than the possibility to redesign the global manufacturing footprint to position factories closer to markets, reduce logistics nightmares and increase visibility of the ecosystem partners, including suppliers and customers.

There are six important ingredients for a strategy to create the future-proof smart factory:

Customers increasingly demand highly personalised products as well as an enhanced customer experience. Manufacturing companies adopt highly agile cloud-based solutions to gain the ability toincrease individualisation, service additions, and serve higher flexibility requirements.
The need to reduce delays and transport costs, as well as the drive toward a more sustainable production and the imperative to reduce the distance to the physical end-consumer lead organisations to redesign the manufacturing footprint with the support of leading edge technologies, to build smaller, smart factories closer to the customer.
Smart decisions require end-to end-visibility. This requires a consolidated view across the manufacturing business, including the commercial, the procurement and the operational sides
A tightly linked view and streamlined processes across the order system, shop floor operations, and the supply chain optimise capacity and requirement management and failover alternatives across the entire system.
A global view and command structure to roast quickly to supply chain challenges. A connected supply chain operating with a single view of orders, shipments and inventory and shared digital processes provides the visibility needed to improve velocity and the agility to respond to disruptions in a timely and efficient manner.
More intelligent automation, using AI-driven insights, can lead to as lines that are adjusting automatically.

Smart technologies allow smaller manufacturing sites to be situated close to the customers. But how can producers reach fundamental business decisions as to how to relocate manufacturing sites?

The most important ingredient needed is good intelligence. True, manufacturing organisations leverage plenty of data across the operation. But is the data linked up, consistent and treated to enable insightful business decisions?


By Jarred Kinchington, Info, ANZ vice president and managing director

This article was first posted in NZ Manufacturer