Initiatives are currently being implemented around the world to change and improve how companies view their manufacturing process. While these initiatives have varying names—from Made in China 2025 to Manufacturing Innovation 3.0—they all have several things in common- clean air, increased productivity, lower costs, and innovation. Smart manufacturing offers companies virtually unlimited ways to streamline operations, create value, and help in responding to a shortage of skilled labor. Chinese and US manufacturers are currently implementing smart manufacturing into their factory processes with the trend increasing at a steady upward rate. Below are a few features of the “smart factory” and how they are shaping the future of manufacturing.
Builds a Solid Infrastructure
To successfully adopt a smart factory philosophy, a company must also adopt certain enabling technologies. The backbone of this “enabling technology” is the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT is a rapidly-growing assortment of smart, connected devices designed to gather a wide variety of local information that, when consolidated and viewed in specific ways, allows manufacturers to gain a greater understanding of safety, security, efficiency, and quality. IoT fosters a greater utilization of the strategic usage of data analytics, mobility, and cloud computing technologies.
As companies adapt to “smart manufacturing”, their management teams will find new, innovative ways to use these technologies and data to increase operational speed, lower production costs, improve up-time, and overall product quality and consistency. US-based liaison companies, like ITI Manufacturing, are already partnering with several China manufactures that adeptly incorporate smart factory into the production of certain kinds of products for US companies. Smart factory technology has already proven itself in helping China facilities to be more efficient according to a November 2017 article from China Daily.
Establishes Reliable, Safe Operations
Achieving a reliable, safe, and compliant operation is a constant concern for manufacturers of all sizes. Smart manufacturing offers advanced ways to deal with these pressing challenges not previously available. The replacement of outdated and difficult to use automation systems will be replaced by current systems that communicate with sensors that measure machine run time, countdown time to maintenance, heat and speed variances, product flow, inventory control, and virtually all detailed aspects of the manufacturing process that can be measured.
These locally generated details, when analyzed properly, will give insights to factory management not previously available in real-time. The local data generated by IoT sensors will be consolidated and presented in a previously defined format that will allow for the presentation of data not currently available. Companies will use embedded intelligence for real-time data gathering in various areas, and then use that data to optimize manufacturing processes, machine performance, safety, and compliance. New requirements, goals, and delimitations based on the company’s history of machine downtime, employee injuries, and other work stoppages can also be entered into these new systems, adding to the complexity and relevancy of the data and resulting decisions.
Offers Higher Quality and Increased Productivity
Quality management protocols can be of limited use when details are not accessible in real time. Today’s manufacturers in China, the United States, and Europe are also using “smart systems” to monitor product specifications in real time from regulatory and purchaser perspectives. Additionally, they are using such information to quickly address defects, meet quality goals, and increase customer satisfaction. When a company uses embedded intelligence to improve its manufacturing processes, it improves productivity as well. From the factory floor to the supply chain, professionals are using smart factory technology to deliver crucial information, monitor delivery performance, reduce costs, and increase quality and productivity.
As companies have more connection points and information becomes more accessible, external and internal threats can put manufacturing environments at risk. Cybercriminals are now going beyond company servers to target operational technologies, while obsolete controls and devices become more vulnerable to breaches via inadvertent and intentional actions. There’s no one security method that works for every threat. As such, companies are developing comprehensive, multi-layered approaches to protect their data-gathering systems from today’s threats. Companies are designing modern network infrastructures that will also ensure the prompt installation of security patches and software upgrades.
Confirms the Future of Manufacturing in the US, China, and Worldwide
Traditionally, manufacturing is highly compartmentalized. It is now rapidly becoming interconnected with sensors measuring detail previously not available. Factory organizations in China, as well as the United States, are currently designing, building, and developing solid strategies and systems for smart manufacturing that are increasingly capable to take advantage of its true potential. With the rapid development and availability of specialized sensors, as well as the systems to consolidate and present relevant analysis of those details, the future is literally NOW.
Connect with ITI Manufacturing
Different facilities, as well as various types of manufacturing processes, will be able to utilize “smart manufacturing” to different degrees. Just as not all products lend themselves to offshore manufacturing, not all Chinese makers will benefit equally from “smart manufacturing”. ITI Manufacturing will evaluate, source, and utilize the China manufacturers with the right expertise and experience to produce products to exacting specifications, on-time, and at the right price.
If you are currently experiencing challenges with manufacturers, or are interested in making changes to your production, then speaking with an expert from ITI Manufacturing is the first and best place to start. With nearly 50 years’ experience building successful international partnerships between USA-based companies and Asian manufacturers, ITI can offer relevant advice specific to your unique situation. Learn about our service guarantees, get a no-obligation quote, and see if China manufacturing is a viable option for you. Call us at (281) 242-7030 for details and information.