The concepts of “Smart Factory” or “Smart Production”, “Factory of the Future” appeared quite recently and do not have strictly defined meanings. Now they are used as synonyms, although the concept of “factory of the future” is more voluminous and includes not only “smart manufacture”, but also virtual and digital enterprises.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines Smart Manufacturing as systems that are “fully-integrated, collaborative manufacturing systems that respond in real-time to meet changing demands and conditions in the factory, in the supply network, and in customer needs.” In this definition, the main thing is: "real-time", i.e. as quickly as possible. The mentioned goals are achieved due to the intensive and comprehensive use of information technologies and cyber-physical systems at all stages of the production and delivery of products.
Smart Manufacturing, along with the Industrial Internet of Things, is at the heart of Industry 4.0 (Industrie 4.0). This name was given to the program of the German government for the development of high technologies. A characteristic feature of Industry 4.0 is fully automated production, where all processes are managed in real-time and taking into account changing external conditions.
Since the “Smart production” concept is very vague (sometimes it means active robotization, automation of most production and management processes, and even just innovation), and the transition to it takes place in several stages, taking more than one year, attempts are made to divide this concept into three. So, E. Philos, coordinator of ICT projects in the seventh framework program of the European Union on scientific and technical cooperation, divides the factories of the future into three main types — Digital, Smart, and Virtual.
Digital, smart and virtual factories
The "Factories of the Feature" can be subdivided into three main types — Digital, Smart, and Virtual.
The main task of the Digital Factory is to develop models of the manufactured products using digital design and modeling tools. These tools are used at all stages — from research and development and to the creation of a “Digital Mock Up”, Digital Twin, prototype, production of a small series, or individual products customized for the customer’s requirements.
Basic systems and technologies:
- CAD/CAM/CAE systems.
- PDM — Product Data Management system.
- PLM — Product Lifecycle Management software.
- CNC machines.
- 3D printers and other additive technologies.
Smart factories are aimed at mass production, but at the same time maintaining maximum production flexibility. This is ensured by a high level of automation and robotization of the plant. Automated control systems of technological and production processes are widely used. Technologies of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) provide machine-to-machine interaction of equipment. Production assets of an enterprise equipped with IPv6 sensors and communication devices are capable of manufacturing products almost without humans. Big data processing technologies allow to cope with growing information flows coming from sensors and automated control systems.
Basic systems and technologies:
- PCS — automated process control system.
- APS (Advanced Planning and Scheduling) — synchronous (advanced) production planning.
- MES (Manufacturing Execution System) is a production process control system.
- IIoT ((Industrial Internet of Things).
- Big Data.
A virtual factory is a network of digital and “smart” factories, which also includes suppliers of materials, components, and services. A number of automated enterprise management systems are used to manage global supply chains and distributed production assets at such factories. With a proper degree of integration, they allow the development and use of a virtual model of all organizational, technological, logistical, and other processes that take place not only at the enterprise but at the level of distributed production assets and global supply chains, up to after-sales service.
Basic systems and technologies:
- ERP — Enterprise Resource Planning.
- CRM — Customer Relationship Management.
- SCM — Supply Chain Management.
Financial perspectives and implementation stages
The growth potential of the global market of "factories of the future" is huge. The market volume of digital factories (PLM systems, additive technologies, hardware and software, machine tools, etc.) will reach, according to various estimates, 260 billion dollars by 2020 and 740 billion dollars by 2035. The market volume of smart factories will reach $ 490 billion and $ 1.35 trillion, respectively. dollars. According to virtual factories, experts expect growth of 690 billion dollars by 2020 and almost 1.5 trillion. dollars in 20 years.
It is quite possible that plants of the Smart Factory concept are under construction already and Virtual Factories, are already being implemented. However, the transfer of operating plants to new principles of product planning, production and after-sales services will be carried out gradually and with maximum use of existing production assets. The transition sequence significantly depends on the specifics of the enterprise and the availability of new technologies.
The IT-Enterprise company outlines the following steps that need to be done in order to implement the Smart Factory concept and lay the foundation for a further transition to the Virtual Factory.
- Digitalization of production. Providing staff with mobile platforms, installation of sensor equipment, and industrial controllers. Installation of new equipment, which is already equipped with digital interfaces. Identification of physical objects of the enterprise.
- Networking enablement. The task of collecting data from sensors in real-time can be solved by connecting all devices and sensors to the IT-Enterprise IIoT platform. The rapid exchange of information between employees is provided by the corporate social network IT-Enterprise Hubber.
- Building a digital plant twin. It's the solution to the problem of visualization of the real state of the plant shop floor. Development of clear rules that enable to identify of deviations from the norm that occurred during the production. IT-Enterprise ERP system allows you to accurately very and quickly visualize and track the status of production throughout the holding, by plant, the performance of specific departments and equipment
- Synchronization with mobile platforms data from an automated planning system and data received from equipment, with operational plans updating. Ensuring the reliability and usefulness of operational information.
- Transition planning tasks to real-time based on reliable information on the progress of production processes.
- Automatic control system response to most situations in production environment. This is a solution developed for a piece of specific equipment, which is individually adjusted.
IT-Enterprise company offers not only a developed ERP system, but also other solutions that allow you to start the transition to Virtual Factory technologies: CRM, SCM, etc.