Early adopters of smart manufacturing are already rethinking production methods and how to build factories embedded with connected digital technology. In some cases, factories share the same IoT network as smart cities for synergy and achieving seamless integration. Here's a brief look at how smart cities and smart manufacturers are evolving together.
Improving Workplace Safety
The introduction of smart technology into factories is known as “Industry 4.0,” as the manufacturing shop floor changes from a hands-on centralized cloud-based system that includes automation and digital monitoring. In other words, it's transforming from a human experience to a machine-driven experience. Ultimately, this new technology will help promote workplace safety that reduces job injuries.
Smart sensors will be able to monitor every important physical aspect of the workplace and production process. When indoor pollution levels breach normal thresholds, staff can be alerted through digital reports. Once analyzed, this information can lead to improvements in the ventilation system and other decisions that improve employee health.
The use of robotics will also contribute to safer conditions, as robots will replace humans for dangerous work, while humans are used to make more analytical decisions. Furthermore, sensors can detect gas leaks and other health hazards before they harm workers.
At the foundation of automation systems are artificial intelligence (AI) and a subset known as machine learning (ML). A computer with ML software is able to take vast amounts of data and look for historical patterns that identify cause and effect relationships. The software can sort through historical data to find solutions with a high probability of success. ML is used to trigger automation when certain conditions occur. For example, when the temperature of a room gets too hot, the ML software will automatically reduce the temperature.
Aiming for Mass Sustainability
Another reason for the increasing rise of smart manufacturing is to contribute to sustainable solutions, which includes eco-friendly source materials that can be renewed. Equipment durability and waste reduction are prominent topics in discussions on making energy generation more sustainable. Sometimes what one industry considers to be waste can be reused by another.
The study of how resources flow within a city is known as urban metabolism (UM). This body of knowledge will help contribute to sustainable processes that affect each other. In other words, sensors will communicate with other sensors to identify waste, inefficiencies, and safety vulnerabilities. UM takes a broad view of the entire production process from origin, transformation, consumption, and post-usage. It then applies the principles of reusing, recycling, repairing, and sharing to the flow of resources to facilitate a circular economy.
The use of smart sensors can also protect the health of equipment as well as workers. In some cases, ML software can be programmed to fix glitches in the system automatically. Machine learning is driven by algorithms that review independent variables relating to input and dependent variables known as target labels to create a mapping function for projecting target labels.
Future of Smart Development
The future of smart technology will undoubtedly be more advanced than today because smart development is still somewhat in its infancy. As early adopters continue to demonstrate the benefits of smart technology, more factories will either have to join this revolution or be left behind. Surviving factories will inevitably adopt Cyber Physical Production Systems (CPPS), which incorporate components of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology to work independently or together to produce valuable data that improves overall systems.