Smart manufacturing is taking the world by storm. In fact, some experts believe that smart manufacturing is ushering in a fourth Industrial Revolution. But what exactly is smart manufacturing and how does it affect you?
Smart manufacturing involves fully integrated and collaborative manufacturing systems that can respond in real time to the obstacles or challenges faced by the factory. These so-called smart machines process data and analytics to streamline production. They’re also better equipped to respond to customer demands as well as reduce the risk of product failures and safety issues on the plant floor.
If you’re new to the concept of smart manufacturing or simply need a refresher, here are six relevant terms to know:
- Internet of Things: The Internet of Things, or IoT, is a network of devices, machines, buildings, and equipment that can digitally exchange data and information. The Internet of Things enables remote accessibility throughout the network, allowing each device connected to that network to communicate without manual interference. This network can include computers, manufacturing equipment, and mobile devices.
- Machine-to-Machine (M2M): The concept of Machine-to-Machine is very similar the Internet of Things in that it offers remote access to machines. But that’s really all it does. M2M provides access to machine data and is typically used for monitoring the performance of machines rather than interconnectivity and collaboration for the purpose of improving business operations.
- Cloud Computing: It’s the digital age, so it should come as no surprise that today’s manufacturing equipment can access ‘The Cloud’ and perform what is known as Cloud Computing. While cloud computing may sound like a mysterious and abstract concept, it’s simply a fancy way of saying that machines and devices can access data that is stored on the internet. What makes cloud computing useful in manufacturing is that internet-based data is shared and accessible by all machines on an on-demand basis.
- Preventive Maintenance: Preventive maintenance is an ongoing, planned process that follows guidelines for inspecting, detecting, and correcting equipment failure. The aim of preventive maintenance is to eliminate unnecessary inspections and maintenance tasks. Since it doesn’t leave anything to chance, manufacturers who practice preventive maintenance can count on reductions in unplanned downtime and maintenances costs.
- Predictive Analytics: Predictive analytics looks at the history of machine failures to predict future equipment issues. This automated process, which compares machine sensor data to spot potential problems, provides manufacturers with the insight they need to better anticipate maintenance and productivity issues.
- STEM: In order for manufacturers to be able to compete, they’ll need to hire candidates who are equipped with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) skills. While these skills are necessary and relevant right now, they’ll become absolutely essential in the coming years. Candidates who excel in STEM related disciplines will be able to effortlessly slip into a manufacturing role and propel company goals forward.