The manufacturing industry is undergoing a revolution, something some experts call Industry 4.0. With advancements in the Internet of Things (IoT), technology, and the rapid integration of digital technologies with physical manufacturing, smart factories are at the forefront of a new era of manufacturing. However, there are several myths and misconceptions about smart factories as some are reluctant to adopt this new way of manufacturing. In this article, we will debunk those myths.
- Smart factories mean huge upfront investment
A common misconception is that smart factories are for large organizations with huge pockets, but that’s not necessarily the case. There are varying degrees to which organizations can adopt smart factory technologies. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with limited resources don’t have to replace existing systems with complex and expensive infrastructure in order to implement a smart factory. They can implement digital technologies as per their requirements and budgetary limitations.
For example, new hardware systems can be retrofitted to older equipment to reduce expenditure. Sensors and other software platforms are also often very scalable and come with customizable options. Smart devices are often affordable, making it quicker and easier to get instant shop floor data to the decision-makers. Moreover, IoT solutions can end up saving you money, resources, and time. Today’s innovative smart factory technology is primarily cloud-based which means no additional hardware is necessary to implement the solution.
- Digital solutions can’t integrate with existing systems
Systems like MES, MRPs, and ERPs are common and prevalent in many factories and manufacturers often think that these can’t be integrated with the new smart factory technologies. But the truth is that many smart factory technology vendors are able to integrate existing systems with the solution for bidirectional information exchange creating seamless data flow with centralized information.
- Technology will eliminate jobs
The adoption of automation is usually seen as a threat to the job market, but this is far from reality. What really happens with automation is a shift in job roles, and not the elimination of jobs, meaning manual labor jobs will be replaced with high-skill jobs. According to a recent report from the World Economic Forum, “the rapid evolution of machines and algorithms in the workplace could create 133 million new roles in place of 75 million that will be displaced between now and 2022.” This means that automation will create new types of jobs requiring highly skilled workers to operate our digital smart factories.
- It is difficult to implement the new systems
One of the main objectives of smart factories is to make the workflow easier and more efficient. So the myth that it is difficult to implement digital solutions is quite opposite to the truth. Cloud-based software enables you to quickly connect all types of machinery and systems to enable accurate real-time data collection, immediately. Moreover, the smart technology vendor will know how to help you quickly create intuitive and customized dashboards within the system allowing quick sharing of information to the relevant parties.
Smart Factory is the future of manufacturing. It is a good idea to start implementing IoT and automation in your factory to start reaping its benefits early.