“The Internet has brought about the rise of the smart factory, and there is no doubt that the smart factory is on the rise. Industry research shows that the smart factory market is growing at a rate of 10% annually as more organizations adopt the latest technologies. The technology driving the smart factory is the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), which refers to the use of networks on the factory floor to communicate machines with each other, enabling exciting new levels of integration. This new data-driven industrial revolution is called Industry 4.0.
The Internet has brought about the rise of the smart factory, and there is no doubt that the smart factory is on the rise. Industry research shows that the smart factory market is growing at a rate of 10% annually as more organizations adopt the latest technologies. The technology driving the smart factory is the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), which refers to the use of networks on the factory floor to communicate machines with each other, enabling exciting new levels of integration. This new data-driven industrial revolution is called Industry 4.0.
A smart factory can be described as a facility where the production process (factory floor) is connected to a control system to create a single operating entity. By creating processes that receive input from a variety of sources, from customer demand to the operation of the machines themselves, you can operate more efficiently and adapt more quickly to changing requirements.
Advantages of Smart Factory
Italian manufacturer Salvagnini has always worked to create an interface that communicates directly between the customer and the production process. Already in 1985, Salvagnini created workshops that work automatically, allowing the company to respond directly to customer needs. By using automated machines with state-of-the-art communication technology, Salvagnini was able to create a true “lights-off” factory.
Driven by the Internet of Things, the concept has reached a new level of integration, and Salvagnini has applied the core technologies of the Industry 4.0 revolution to create a responsive and flexible production service that puts production operations directly in the hands of the customer . Using cloud services, the Salvagnini solution allows customers to specify requirements and communicate them directly to the production line. From the start of production, the customer has been able to monitor the entire manufacturing process, with the Salvagnini company supporting it when necessary.
There are also practical considerations for putting the customer at the center of the manufacturing process. The possibility to operate completely remotely is one of the benefits of a true Industry 4.0 implementation that can be seen in nearly every IIoT application.
Make Smart Factory Safer
The vision of a true “lights out,” remote-operated factory never fully materialized. While many aspects of production can be handled by industrial automation, human operators will always be required to enter the factory floor for maintenance and troubleshooting. These operators must be kept safe, and that is where systems and equipment working together come into play.
The goal of an IoT-connected control system operating as a single entity is to ensure that the system can operate efficiently without risking injury to operators. As far as computer-operated production facilities are concerned, it is critical to have a range of equipment units that can react immediately in the event of an unsafe situation.
The first critical component of a security system is the sensor, which can come in many forms, from simple door switches that detect when equipment is in an unsafe state, to more complex solutions such as safety light curtains that serve as replacements for physical barriers. These sensors will detect if a foreign object, such as an operator’s hand, has entered a safety-critical space.
Sensors are only part of the solution. In an integrated smart factory, sensors need to communicate quickly with other systems so that appropriate actions can be taken right away. This requires highly reliable connectors and cables that can provide the fast communication necessary to ensure safe maintenance. They also require good computing power to react with minimal delay.
The task of providing a strong and robust safety system is further complicated by various conditions. Manufacturing operates in a harsh environment. Depending on the process operations being performed, factory floors can experience extremes of temperature, humidity, vibration and shock, and even harsh chemicals. In addition, there are often moving machines that pose significant risks to people nearby.
Autonomously moving robots are already prevalent in smart factories, and they are used in a variety of task roles, including the transportation of raw materials and the distribution and delivery of finished products. Not only do these robots need to shuttle around the factory to be in the right place at the right time, but they also need to be able to recognize dangerous situations and act quickly to maintain safety.
Whether employing the latest autonomous mobile robots or more traditional stationary machinery, recent developments in the Industrial Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 are driving smart factory operations. These innovations allow manufacturers to become more flexible and responsive, ensuring that the needs of customers are placed at the heart of the production process.
As new autonomous control technologies become more prevalent on the factory floor, there is a growing need for multiple IoT-connected control systems to operate as a single entity. Manufacturers need sensor products that can withstand the harsh conditions found in industrial environments, connected to reliable and secure connectors.
Connecting the Factory of the Future
Molex has the technical expertise, industry experience and global presence to develop connector products and solutions for the latest functional safety requirements. Molex is helping the industry realize the smart factory of the future, using advanced connectivity solutions to remove barriers between manufacturers and customers, and installing the safety systems needed to truly “turn off the lights” in factories.
We recently explored how Molex supported Salvagnini’s integration of state-of-the-art IIoT technology and wrote it as a customer case study. Download this case study to learn more, including a shared Industry 4.0 vision that promises to accelerate the development of compact IP67-rated products to support ever smaller and more powerful machines that must operate reliably in the harshest environments . Facts have proved that Molex’s mature knowledge of industrial Ethernet architecture, broad product portfolio and excellent local technology can play an important role in identifying and solving critical connectivity problems in the industry to improve operational efficiency.
The Links: CM150DY-24A 6MBI75U2A-060