Automation is not a new concept in the electronics manufacturing industry. However, the convergence of the digital and physical realms with the help of various modern technologies such as Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), artificial intelligence, robotics, cloud computing, augmented reality, and big data has led to the rise and proliferation of smart manufacturing.
In the past, automation could only replace the human physical labor. As a result, it was applied in the situations where heavy duty and repetitive work with high accuracy was needed. In future, however, the combination of information technology (IT) and operations technology (OT) will create intelligent manufacturing units or smart factories. They will be able to make decisions without human interference.
Smart factories will be able to integrate the supply chain, production line, and quality control according to the dynamic market requirements. It will be a completely connected and flexible manufacturing system that will be able to create personalized and customized products as and when needed. They will have to rely on increasingly smart sensors and configurable robots.
At the moment, however, the idea of setting up a smart factory may seem more like the stuff of science fiction. However, the rapid development across a wide range of technologies is fueling the shift towards a self-optimizing factory floor like never before. Several manufacturers, even ones in developing countries, have already started implementing these technologies.
However, the smart factory concept isn’t going to be the end of Industry 4.0. Instead, it will remain an ongoing process where manufacturers will keep adding more powerful computing and analytical capabilities to adapt and grow as the market demands change.
In the following infographic from ICRFQ.com , you will find statistics that illustrate how quickly the world is moving towards smart manufacturing. It also looks at the challenges faced by manufacturers.