Introduction to the Smart Factory
This book is aimed at all professionals, in particular managers and production engineers who work in manufacturing companies and who want to get some ideas and start with a concrete approach a path to implement a Smart Factory.
What is a Smart Factory?
The Smart Factory can be defined as a factory designed on the basis of the following characteristics:
- is able to facilitate the launch of new products based on market dynamics
- is sufficiently scalable to meet the changing demand for existing products
- has real-time analysis to minimize downtime and improve efficiency
The goal of the Smart Factory is to improve the competitiveness of companies thanks to the new technologies of Industry 4.0 by increasing the level of automation, autonomy and flexibility of the production system.
This book is aimed at all professionals, in particular managers and production engineers who work in manufacturing companies and who want to get some ideas and start with a concrete approach a path to implement a Smart Factory. In this sense, it is important to underline that the barriers are more cultural than technological. In fact, technology exists and is already available at all levels: what is lacking instead is a medium-long term vision and the will to undertake a path, certainly complex, which can however lead to important competitive advantages, especially in the globalized work.
The discussion is divided into 8 short chapters:
- Reconfigurable production systems: automation is not enough. We will analyze how production systems have evolved over time, to get to the present day to require ever greater flexibility
- The key technologies: the main technologies of Industry 4.0 and some of their industrial applications will be presented
- Lean Production and Industry 4.0, i.e. how Industry 4.0 integrates perfectly with Lean methodologies
- Designing the Smart Factory: a 10-step approach will be briefly described
- Management skills required: some management aspects will be studied in depth at the introduction of new technologies in the Smart Factory. Technology, if not properly managed, could bring more problems than good
- Risks and Associated Challenges: the implementation of the Smart Factory involves a series of risks which, if not taken into account and properly managed, can lead to the failure of the project
- Examples of Smart Factories: some examples of state-of-the-art factories and concrete applications will be reported
- Practical tips: some tips from the application of the steps suggested in chapter 4 will be briefly reported.