Smart manufacturing often comes up in discussions of the Internet of Things (IoT). Perhaps the most notorious use case for IoT, smart manufacturing is changing factory operations, and is at the core of Industry 4.0.
The key distinction between a factory and a smart factory is the level of digitalization. While a standard factory has machinery and can automate tasks, a smart factory has much more integration between devices. Thus, it has a much greater capacity for optimizing processes. The smart factory integration is enabled by a connection between all the devices and systems on a single network. This is highly advantageous for factory owners because when everything on a network can communicate, devices can share data with each other and determine what they need to be doing, and when they should do it.
Devices work together and perform at peak efficiencies through machine learning, which is an application of artificial intelligence. Machine learning enables computers to interpret data and determine what to do with it on their own. This removes the need for a human to analyze data and decide how to use it. Consequently, processes become much more streamlined.
Smart manufacturing has a number of benefits. Communication between devices and automatic data analysis and machine learning ensure that factory performance is optimized, which can save time and lower expenses. In addition, sensors can detect and communicate quality and safety concerns. By reducing human involvement and training factory devices how to do their jobs, we can increase quality and efficiencies while lowering risks and costs.
Smart Manufacturing is a key industry and in addition to the network, there are a number of use cases typically discussed:
- factory-floor automation and flexibility
- real-time situation awareness solutions (including sensors, HD video surveillance and massive diagnosis data upload)
- preventive maintenance
- workforce management
- machine utilization optimization
- risk management (safety area management)
- remote asset control (sensor monitoring)
- worker health and safety (with AR/VR or push-to-talk voice)
All of these use cases can be improved by a 5G deployment.