New Technologies that SMEs could embrace to be called a SMART Factory

Manufacturing SMEs in India are faced with a choice to either “Shape-Up”: run their businesses efficiently and more profitably or “Ship-Out”: lose market share to more efficient and profitable companies and die a natural death. Hence a Smart Factory allows machines, equipment, and systems to be interconnected, allowing real-time data exchange and communication.

A smart factory is a highly advanced and digitized manufacturing facility that utilizes emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and data analytics to optimize productivity, efficiency, and flexibility.

Please also red our blog on Rise of Smart Factory in today’s Digital World, please will give more understanding of Smart Factory.

Making the right choice has been more pressing due to global economic turmoil and pandemics. For an SME that wants sustenance and growth in the manufacturing sector, it is essential that it runs SMART Operations rather than only Low Cost Operations. When we say Smart Operations (or Smart Factory), it includes the elements of higher efficiency, increased Productivity and optimized Cost. For instance, SMEs in India would tend to say “Labor cost in India is still low as compared with developed countries”. And be ignorant when comparing labor productivity. Some would have outsourced through a labor contract with output incentive schemes, thus side-stepping the problem. In similar fashion many SMEs would end up saying “Our plants are automatic/semi-automatic, and hence we get higher productivity”. They justify this statement by referencing productivity vis-à-vis a labor-intensive plant. A right comparison would be to compare with similar automatic/semi-automatic plants and do not ignore productivity losses due to various factors like machine downtime.

To holistically run operations in a SMART factory, the answer lies in integrating technology that monitors “Man-Machine-Material” at real time and integrates all facets of production. It looks that Industry 4.0 will have possible answers.

  1. Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT): Today IIOT has caught on the imagination of people. In the simplest of terms IOT is a sensor driven technology that captures “real time” data such as pressure, temperature, speed, position/location etc. creating a digital twin of physical machine.
  2. Sensors: Many OEMs and independent solution providers have plunged head along onto sensor driven IoT Solutions.
  3. Camera Based: The other side of the spectrum is explored by many OEMS and independent solution providers to calculate machine utilizations, cycle time, deviations etc.

While the respective technologies have their own merits and demerits, we at Manufapp chose our Intelligent Monitoring System to be Camera Based. This decision was made after intense market research on customer preferences. Camera costs have been coming down and usability and integration with complex machines is easy. Asides from these Manufapp’s AI/ML driven “Rule Engine” has been curated by engineers hired from the best institutes in India. They have been guided in this process by industry veterans from manufacturing & technology sectors. 

On one hand while Manufapp’s homegrown solution  focuses on Computer Vision, our Manufacturing Execution System is adaptable with sensor-based technology. MES can be integrated with any Sensor based IoT solution for monitoring Production, Manufacturing, Quality, Maintenance, Traceability and Tracking facets. These can be displayed on customisable dashboards and alerts can be set with elaborate escalation matrix.

We at Manufapp are confident on taking your factory through the next phase of “Digital Transformation” and make it into a “SMART Factory”.