Digital Factory; Smart Factory; Industry 4.0 are they only a simple slogan or a real necessity?
Companies every day confronting with the market know how the industrial world is extremely competitive and are familiar with the difficulties of their traditional factories, which have inefficiency costs that risk becoming intolerable:
- Machining scraps due to human errors, usually caused by incorrect information and misunderstandings.
- High indirect costs, necessary to “visually” control production.
- Work planning errors with consequent delivery delays; extra costs for unscheduled overtime; penalty for delivery delay; loss of orders.
- Difficulty to improve the production flexibility that would optimize the resources and increase productivity.
- Idle times caused by unexpected machine downtimes or incorrect maintenance management.
- High warehouse costs for tools, spare parts, raw materials that can hardly be planned in advance compared to real needs.
- Little knowledge about the actual development of operating performances, which would lead to make decisions more quickly and correctly.
Now, let’s imagine a smart factory, where the information required to perform a specific activity (machining programs; workpiece drawings; tool data; equipment; operating instructions; etc.) automatically arrives to people or machines, without intermediate passages, errors, inaccuracy or forgetfulness.
Let’s imagine that all machines (not only the new ones) have their own intelligence, that allow them to identify and alert the operator in the event of problems during working, to inform in advance about their health conditions, to answer to the request of performing new tasks, to objectively report in real time on execution times, delays or potential unplanned downtimes or necessary stand-by.
Let’s imagine that all machines in the factory can provide in real time the operator with all information required to make decisions more quickly or consciously and allow the operator to focus on higher value-added activities.
Let’s imagine a factory operational management instrument that receives real-time information about the production trend inside the factory (men and machines) and is also able to verify the development of the operating phases outside the company.
Let’s imagine some extremely efficient management instruments, able to autonomously process huge quantities of data and offer the operator possible optimal operating choices, based on the real factory development, supporting future decisions.
Often, erroneously, the term “Industry 4.0” is identified with the single technologies (IOT; Big Data Analytics; Augmented Reality, etc), after all not so revolutionary, but, actually, it is the wise combination of all these technologies to make a factory intelligent, and this is the case of the Digital Factory designed by MARES.