Making factories 'smart': preparing for the fourth industrial revolution






The 'fourth industrial revolution' is transforming the manufacturing industry, with a shift to interconnected digital platforms increasing efficiency throughout the manufacturing process.

These more efficient digital technologies found in smart factories include advanced computing solutions, cloud and remote computing, IoT and connected devices, and AI and machine learning.

No single technology or platform is driving Industry 4.0 on its own, explains science writer Megan Ray Nichols in an article for Interesting Engineering. Instead, it's more of a collective approach to the digital transformation.

So how can manufacturers prepare for the modern industrial revolution?

Firstly, get to know the technologies and options available to improve the productivity and efficiency of your operations, as well as the new skills and personnel needed to maintain a modern plant.

Many providers offer a trial period, allowing you to put new software or hardware through its paces before committing to buy.

Once you have found the most suitable systems, test and revise their setup, and continue doing so for the foreseeable future.

"Pay attention to your efficiency, and look for improvements, then lock them down," Nichols says.

And always keep your customers in mind.

"The ultimate goal is delivering a worthy product or service to consumers," Nichols points out.

That means making sure your efficiency, speed, flexibility and reliability enhancements lead to an end product that still meets customers' needs.

A successful digital transformation requires collaboration and communication across all stakeholders, including employees and executives, partners, vendors, suppliers, distributors and consumers.

"Luckily, technology is already on the way to making this scenario possible," Nichols concludes. "It's a matter of preparing your processes and existing plants for its imminent arrival."


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