Research firm IDC recently identified the technologies that will be key in driving the manufacturing industry to the age of smart manufacturing.
Since smart manufacturing helps the production function to transit from being capacity-centric to capability-centric, it delivers financial benefits to manufacturers, said IDC.
According to the "IDC TechScape : Worldwide Smart Manufacturing Technologies" report, the key technologies fall under the following categories:
- Data acquisition, which involves capturing information on the factory floor. This might include human-based recording via devices or unattended capture via sensors.
- Connectivity, which relates to the data networking that moves data from the acquisition device to systems that process the information. The connectivity is bi-directional as data is also moved to the edge of the network. Connectivity includes both wired and wireless networks.
- Analytics. While acquiring and moving data form an important foundation for the smart factory, the most immediate value will be delivered in terms of how companies use that data. Technologies that help manufacturing firms understand what happened, what is happening, and what might happen will translate to a factory network that is more responsive to market needs.
- Actuation. Once the data is acquired, communicated, and analysed, companies would like to initiate action without human intervention. If analytics represents the best opportunity for immediate value, this autonomic operational potential represents the greatest long-term value proposition. It will separate those that view factories as competitive weapons to deliver a better customer experience from those that see production facilities as a necessary operational burden.
"Whatever you call the vision - smart manufacturing, Industry 4.0, or the future factory - achieving the next generation of cyberphysical production requires a number of technologies to come together," said Robert Parker, Group Vice President and General Manager of IDC Retail, Energy, and Manufacturing Insights. "The report has identified the key technologies, categorised their relative impact, and provided insight into how they should be deployed. Manufacturing companies can use this report to build a more effective roadmap to the future factory."
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