New Business Opportunities for Smart Factories
By Elizabeth Consolante - April 23, 2019
The use of follow-up activities to boost productivity and improve efficiency is a good use of IoT technology, but its applications go well beyond that. Efficiency improvements are always a good thing, but in environments where low volumes of highly diverse products are produced, these increases in productivity, as well as the reduction of waste, can translate into business opportunities and profit growth.
Strategic Expansion and 4.0 Factory Technologies
Do you use or plan to use your connectivity solution to develop and define your long-term strategies? Rather than trying to improve what you already do, you could use all of your production data to increase your capabilities. The Internet of Things (IoT) and connectivity go far beyond automation. Automating manual processes is an important step, but is only a small part of the possibilities of the smart factory. By making good use of the information you collect, you could determine how small, inexpensive changes would allow you to do more.
According to an article published by Deloitte, "The true power of the smart factory lies in its ability to evolve and grow along with the changing needs of the organization—whether they be shifting customer demand, expansion into new markets, development of new products or services, more predictive and responsive approaches to operations and maintenance, incorporation of new processes or technologies, or near-real-time changes to production."
Be creative and flexible
Exploiting the potential of the smart factory may require a change of mindset. Previously, the idea of productivity was associated with rigidity and strict adherence to defined schedules and broad plans. With real-time data, you can be more flexible, notably by conducting more frequent analyses of your capabilities and opportunities as well as changes to your plans. Intelligent data analysis and information sharing across a company's departments can create opportunities to develop creative and innovative solutions that can drive revenue growth.
In the article "How technology can drive the next wave of mass customization", published by McKinsey, authors Anshuk Gandhi, Carmen Magar and Roger Roberts state the following: "Flexible manufacturing systems are essential to making smallbatch production for mass customization profitable."
Benefit from the expertise of everyone thanks to the analysis capabilities of the 4.0 factory
With automated analytics reporting and shared access to data analysis, people can now stop collecting and sharing data to focus on higher value-added tasks. Ask the employees working in the plant where they think improvements can be made. By utilizing both the information gained from the machines and the experience of the workers, you will benefit from comprehensive data and the knowledge of all - all in all, you will enjoy the best of both worlds.
Improve responsiveness on demand
If you receive a large order, how do you determine your maximum capacity? Do your capacity plans rely on estimates or up-to-date data on production rates? It is understandable that efficiency gains and monitoring of ROI are immediate objectives following the implementation of an IoT solution. However, it is important to look beyond the reach of what is done today, to consider the considerable potential of this innovative technology and use it to its advantage. By integrating the IoT's analytical capabilities into strategic planning, forecasting and production capacity estimates, you will see a future of possibilities open up, with many opportunities to increase competitiveness and share market.