Automation has always been a part of the factory, but now, innovative manufacturers have the opportunity to take it to a whole new level. Through the application of artificial intelligence and the increasing sophistication of cyberphysical systems that can combine physical machines and business processes, automation increasingly can include complex optimization decisions that humans have traditionally made. This can allow manufacturers to integrate shop floor decisions and insights with the rest of the supply chain and the broader enterprise—an integration colloquially known as the smart factory.
The smart factory represents a leap forward from traditional automation to a connected and flexible system—one that can use a constant stream of data from connected operations and production systems to learn and adapt to new demands. A true smart factory can integrate data from system-wide physical, operational, and human assets to drive manufacturing, maintenance, inventory tracking, digitization of operations through the digital twin, and other types of activities across the entire manufacturing network. The result can be a more efficient and agile system, less production downtime, and a greater ability to predict and adjust to changes in the broader network.
What does a smart factory look like?
The below infographic depicts the smart factory and some of its major features: connectivity, optimization, transparency, proactivity, and agility. Each of these features can play a role in enabling more informed decisions and help organizations improve the production process.
Skills to be developed and/or goals to be accomplished
1. Creation of New business documents / scoping and budgets.
2. Conflict resolution
3. Increased knowledge of department technical skills and processes.
Together, these features can afford manufacturers greater visibility across their assets and systems, and allow them to navigate some of the challenges faced by more traditional factory structures. Ultimately, this can lead to improved productivity and greater responsiveness to fluctuations in supplier and customer conditions.
When manufacturers embark on the smart factory journey, it needs to be defined, planned, and executed at a pace suitable to the organization and the challenge. Company leaders can consider starting with the following steps:
Think big, start small, scale fast…
Building and scaling the smart factory can be as agile and flexible as the concept itself. Manufacturers can get started down the path to a true smart factory at any level of their network—value creation can begin with and scale from a single asset, and use an agile approach to iterate and grow.
…but stay grounded
A company’s manufacturing strategy and environment will determine which specific issues to address and the way to unlock value through smart factory solutions. Customizing the approach to each scenario and situation can help ensure the needs of the manufacturer are met.
It’s not just about the technologies
The smart factory journey requires more than just a set of connected assets. Manufacturers would need a way to store, manage, make sense of, and act upon the data gathered. Moreover, companies would need the right talent to drive the journey and the right processes in place.
Think outside the four walls
The smart factory is a holistic solution, joining what happens within the four walls with what happens across the entire digital supply network. An organization embarking on a smart factory journey should consider the full array of supply chain partners and customers from the start. Actions in one node, or for one stakeholder, can impact the others.
A smart factory is an ongoing evolution rather than the “one and done” factory modernization approach of the past. It’s an evolving solution—one that taps into multiple features such as agility, connectedness, and transparency. The true power of the smart factory lies in its ability to evolve and grow along with changing organizational needs. As such, a smart factory capability can enable manufacturers to differentiate themselves and function more effectively and efficiently in an ever-more complex and rapidly shifting ecosystem.
The world is filled with data. Lots and lots of data. Everything from pictures, music, words, spreadsheets, videos and more. It doesn’t look like it’s going to to slow down anytime soon. Machine learning brings the promise of deriving meaning from all of that data.
Machine Learning is already everywhere
We see machine learning all around us in the products we use today, but it isn’t always apparent to us that machine learning is behind it all. While tagging objects and people in pictures is clearly machine learning, you may not realize that features like video recommendation systems are also often powered by machine learning.
Today, machine learning’s immediate applications are already quite wide-ranging, including image recognition, fraud detection, recommendation engines, as well as text and speech systems. These powerful capabilities can be applied to a wide range of fields, from diabetic retinopathy and skin cancer detection to retail, and of course transportation, in the form of self-parking and self-driving vehicles.
Neil deGrasse Tyson discusses the future of robotics and A.I. with the former head of DARPA, Arati Prabhakar. Back in the studio, guest robotics engineer Hod Lipson joins the conversation to explain engineering next generation robotics.
Saudi Arabia has become the first country to give a robot citizenship.
The move is an attempt to promote Saudi Arabia as a place to develop artificial intelligence – and, presumably, allow it to become a full citizen. But many pointed out that those same rights aren't afforded to many humans in the country.
The robot, named Sophia, was confirmed as a Saudi citizen during a business event in Riyadh, according to an official Saudi press release.
If you're not building a bot, you're already behind.
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If you’re not building a bot, you’re already behind.
The age of robots is now. And the more people interact with them, the more they'll realize the value of human-less interaction.
But ... what exactly is a bot?
A bot is a computer program that automates certain tasks, typically by chatting with a user through a conversational interface.
Bots plug into messaging apps -- apps that have even surpassed social media platforms in usage -- and play into a larger shift we’re seeing in consumer behavior.
People shop and buy in a world of immediacy. Messaging is how they communicate.
Having an app won’t cut it anymore. Today, half of smartphone users download a whapping zero apps per month. Bots meet users where they already are -- no app download or URL necessary.
That’s the superpower of bots: efficiency. There's no complicated phone menu or ill-informed service rep. By chatting in a familiar conversational interface, bots ask what they need to understand and solve a problem -- nothing more, nothing less.
Then, when bots are linked with a CRM they get even smarter, leveraging past conversations to personalize their responses to your unique situation and preferences.
At a time when app downloads, clickthrough rates, and email efficacy are all decreasing, bots offer businesses the opportunity to have one-to-one conversations at scale.
And for customers, a better way to interact with brands.