19. August 2016

How to create a smart factory

How to create a smart factory

For a while now we have heard the buzz of Smart Factories and Smart Manufacturing, but how can we acheive these? Here we explore what a smart factory actually is and how it can be a reality.

What is a smart factory?

Integrated Industry has led to the development of smart factories, thanks to the rise of ‘Big Data’. It’s the application of this data (that is generated through device communication) that allows machines and systems to learn and adapt their processes therefore creating a smart factory.

Using industrial Internet and the Cloud to connect the real and virtual world, smart factories require seamless integration of cyber physical systems at all levels in order to monitor the whole production process.

The key to a successful smart factory is the interaction which is required at field level. With a unified language, there is communication between machines, enabling full interaction and integration across the whole factory. This communication functionality doesn’t need to be built into the machine. Instead flexible modular devices can be added on to capture, process and transfer this data throughout all levels of the factory. Device connectivity solutions, including RJ45 and M12, enables this communication to flow through devices.

One advantage of a smart factory is the minimised downtime. The application of data allows devices to diagnose problems and provide instant feedback. Consequently this learning approach means machines can predict potential faults and provide the required feedback information for swift recovery, resulting in reduced downtime and associated costs.

How can we create a smart factory?

What’s missing from existing factories is the functionality to gather and analyse all the data and transfer it to an intelligent management system.

Modular construction of the plant enables flexible production, including communication across each module. Each module generates its own data which in turn needs to be stored and analysed. To create a smart factory, this data needs to seamlessly be communicated along the production process from the shop floor to the management system. Using intelligent devices, you can consequently monitor and control the whole process remotely as an intelligent smart factory.

One solution for this is the HARTING IIC MICA. MICA is the first Modular Industry Computer Architecture, suitable for industrial applications. MICA can be easily added onto the machine and equipment even within harsh industrial environments including extreme temperature, dust and humidity. The intelligent hardware provides direct data processing at the machine, and decentralised collection and analysis of data.

RFID for identification of plant modules, including the RFR300 series for real time production solutions, provides intelligent systems to the factory. The RFR300 reader provides a track and trace solution for the factory, including 8 configurable digital I/O and a rugged housing for industrial applications.

This includes the Ha-VIS Middleware, which we will discuss in another blog.

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