Lesson 1: What is a Smart Factory?

Welcome to Lesson 1. In this section, you are going to learn what a smart factory is.

Before you start, please have a look at what your virtual assistant wants to tell you:

According to Padhi, a Smart Factory is

“an optimized manufacturing facility which can

  • facilitate launching new products depending on market dynamics,
  • is scalable enough to meet demand variation for existing products,
  • is able to produce Finished Goods at least cost,
  • has smart machines, sensors and robots which are seamlessly integrated with information system architecture to enable high level of automation in transaction processing and has real time analytics that helps in minimizing downtime and improving efficiency.

A Smart factory creates an eco-system where there is a strong collaboration between all the key players, e.g. Suppliers, Operations Team, IT Team, Planning Team, Sales & Marketing team and Customers.

It creates a single platform where multiple business functions such as Procurement, Planning, Manufacturing, Sales & Distribution & Finance & Accounting teams work together to meet overall corporate objectives.” (01)

Technical basis are Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS), which communicate with each other with the help of the Internet of things (IoT). Part of this future scenario continues to be the communication between the product (e.g. workpiece) and the production plant: the product itself brings its manufacturing information in machine-readable form.

These data are used to control the path of the product through the manufacturing facility and the individual manufacturing steps.

Other transmission techniques, such as WLAN, Bluetooth, color coding or QR codes are currently being experimented (02).
CPS or IoT are considered the backbone of Smart Industries, however the BCG summarizes the enabling technologies as following:

List of 9 key technologies of Industry 4.0, according the Boston Consulting Group
Figure 1: List of 9 key technologies of Industry 4.0, according the Boston Consulting Group


1) Padhi N, Setting up a Smart Factory (Industry 4.0)-A Practical Approach, Nov, 2018

2) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyber-physical_system [20/01/2019]

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