What are Smart Factories?
The application of various combinations of contemporary technology to develop a hyperflexible, self-adapting manufacturing capability is known as the “smart factory” concept. Smart factories offer the chance to create new types of flexibility and effectiveness through the efficient connection of various processes, information streams, and participants (frontline employees, planners, etc.). Initiatives related to the “smart factory” may alternatively be referred to as “digital factories” or “intelligent factories.”
The manufacturing process is fully automated in intelligent factories to accomplish a specific goal.
Smart factories may look like conventional factories, but with elements such as intelligent technology and the Internet of Things, machines connect via cloud services to accomplish the goal. The key feature of smart factories is the machine-to-machine (M2M) element. Machine-to-machine connectivity causes many changes in an electronics manufacturing company’s manufacturing process.
To monitor the production system, including logistics, market integration, and even the activity of individual employees on the factory floor, smart factories link the real and virtual worlds.
Operators can profit from fully integrated, collaborative manufacturing systems in several ways, including increased adaptability and efficiency.
Benefits of Smart Factories to the Electronic Manufacturing Sector
The use of interconnected machinery and gadgets maximises productivity and efficiency throughout the electronics manufacturing process.
In the industrial sector, implementing an agile, iterative production process in the industrial sector can increase personnel and equipment capabilities, resulting in lower costs, fewer downtimes, and less waste.
Efficiency and output can be increased without a significant investment in new resources by identifying and then minimising or eliminating underutilised or inappropriate production capabilities.
Management, quality assurance, design and development, and logistics are among the advantages of digitalising a factory because each is evaluated and optimised based on customer feedback.
Additionally, incorporating machine learning into the process will have long-term advantages. For example, it is possible to schedule proactive and predictive maintenance based on reliable real-world data by gathering and analysing data to prevent manufacturing line slowdowns.
Four Stages of Smart Factories
To evaluate your progress toward becoming an intelligent electronics manufacturer, four levels can be used:
Stage One: Accessibility of Basic Data
A company or facility is not “smart” while operating at this level. Data is accessible, but it is difficult to obtain or analyse. Furthermore, data analysis is time-consuming and might make your production line less efficient.
Stage Two: Data Evaluation
At this stage, obtaining the data in a more organised and clearer format is possible. In addition, the data will be compiled and accessible from a single location, and visualisation and displays will aid in evaluating it. All of this makes proactive data analysis possible, though work is still needed.
Stage Three: Active Data
At this level, ai, and machine learning can help analyse the data, producing insight with less human oversight. In addition, the system is more mechanised than at level two and can anticipate significant problems or abnormalities to foresee probable breakdowns.
Stage Four: Goal-Oriented Data
The fourth level expands on the dynamic activity of level three to develop answers to problems and, in some cases, take action to solve a problem or enhance a procedure without requiring human involvement. At this stage, data is gathered and examined for issues before solutions are developed and, whenever possible, put into practice with minimal human involvement.
Internal Parameters for Smart Factories in Electronic Manufacturing
To remain competitive, a company that manufactures electronics must incorporate automation procedures into its smart factory. However, radical adjustments are necessary for this integration, particularly in its operation.
These adjustments could be viewed as management since machines and networks are now managed rather than people. Robots, software, and networks challenge an electronic contract maker or an organisation that provides electronic manufacturing services to adapt conventional horizontal and vertical management techniques.
An EMS organisation’s many supply chain services must interact since each stage affects the next and final product. Every step of production, including PCBA engineering, design, manufacture, and new product introduction, is verified by a control system. This system signals that a task is finished, and the following method can start working on completing its mission. First, a vertical connection must be established.
Process compliance must be strictly enforced nationally and globally to guarantee production excellence. Additionally, a horizontal network designed for machine monitoring must be implemented.
One of the biggest obstacles to assuring the effectiveness of the production process is managing quality and risk simultaneously. As a result, machine-to-machine communication needs to be carefully controlled.
Many electronic contract manufacturing organisations now offer intelligent supply chain operations, enabling “smart” automation of processes thanks to intelligent logistics operations. Artificial intelligence and machine learning make such intelligent supply chain solutions possible.
The Competition Driven by Smart Factories in Electronic Manufacturing Sector
The emergence of Industry 4.0 has presented electronics manufacturing businesses with several difficulties. It is the responsibility of companies to develop a strategy to remain competitive and abreast of current technology developments. Without a system for investing in machinery that enables cost-effective manufacturing and improves services, EMS companies won’t be around for the next industrial revolution.
Future Perspectives for Electronic Manufacturing Sector
Manufacturers must foresee customer demands and needs. However, the stakes are more significant when the such request originates directly from the end user. For one, flexible electronic manufacturing technologies are needed to produce micro- or nano-components to make technologically advanced specialised goods.
With the introduction of Industry 4.0, intelligent factories started to emerge. Along with the most recent industrial revolution, where the Internet controls everything, machines can now interact and do manufacturing tasks without being overseen by a person.