According to Wikipedia, Smart manufacturing is a broad category of manufacturing that employs computer-integrated manufacturing, high levels of adaptability and rapid design changes, digital information technology, and more flexible technical workforce training. Other goals sometimes include fast changes in production levels based on demand, optimization of the supply chain, efficient production and recyclability. In this concept, as smart factory has interoperable systems, multi-scale dynamic modelling and simulation, intelligent automation, strong cyber security, and networked sensors.
The broad definition of smart manufacturing covers many different technologies. Some of the key technologies in the smart manufacturing movement include big data processing capabilities, industrial connectivity devices and services, and advanced robotics.
Smart manufacturing can also be attributed to surveying workplace inefficiencies and assisting in worker safety. Efficiency optimization is a huge focus for adopters of “smart” systems, which is done through data research and intelligent learning automation. For instance operators can be given personal access cards with inbuilt Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, which can connect to the machines and a Cloud platform to determine which operator is working on which machine in real time. An intelligent, interconnected ‘smart’ system can be established to set a performance target, determine if the target is obtainable, and identify inefficiencies through failed or delayed performance targets. In general, automation may alleviate inefficiencies due to human error. And in general, evolving AI eliminates the inefficiencies of its predecessors.
Worker safety can be augmented by safe, innovative design and increasing integrated networks of automation. This is under the notion that Technicians are exposed less to hazardous environments as automation matures. If successful, less human supervision and user instruction for automation will devitalize workplace safety concerns.
Impact of Industry 4.0
Industrial revolutions and future view
Industry 4.0 is a project in the high-tech strategy of the German government that promotes the computerization of traditional industries such as manufacturing. The goal is the intelligent factory (Smart Factory) that is characterized by adaptability, resource efficiency, and ergonomics, as well as the integration of customers and business partners in business and value processes. Its technological foundation consists of cyber-physical systems and the Internet of Things.
This kind of “intelligent manufacturing” makes a great use of:
- Wireless connections, both during product assembly and long-distance interactions with them;
- Last generation sensors, distributed along the supply chain and the same products (Internet of things)
- Elaboration of a great amount of data to control all phases of construction, distribution and usage of a good.
Some examples are:
- Advanced manufacturing processes and rapid prototyping will make possible for each customer to order one-of-a-kind product without significant cost increase.
- Collaborative Virtual Factory (VF) platforms will drastically reduce cost and time associated to new product design and engineering of the production process, by exploiting complete simulation and virtual testing throughout the Product Lifecycle.
- Advanced Human-Machine interaction (HMI) and augmented reality (AR) devices will help increasing safety in production plants and reducing physical demand to workers (whose age has an increasing trend).
- Machine learning will be fundamental to optimize the production processes, both for reducing lead times and reducing the energy consumption.
- Cyber-physical systems and machine-to-machine (M2M) communication will allow to gather and share real-time data from the shop floor in order to reduce down and idle times by conducting extremely effective predictive maintenance.
Smart Manufacturing Paradigms
In this section, the leading visions for the future of smart manufacturing are discussed and for each one, different examples from leading industry and research organizations are presented.
Cyber Physical Systems in Smart Manufacturing
As one of the main elements of Industry 4.0, cyber-physical systems play a significant role in the future of smart manufacturing systems.
- Connection Layer
Systems, comments, machines, and humans are essential parts of manufacturing systems and their contributions highly depend on their connection with the rest of the manufacturing elements. For instance, an operator may require advanced intelligence from the production system in order to make the most efficient decisions for scheduling maintenance or production orders. Advanced communication technologies such as 5G technology  would significantly enhance connectivity across manufacturing systems.
- Cyber Layer
This layer is a central hub for data storage where big data analytic tools are utilized for a better and more efficient decision making. A digital twin can be realized in this layer by integrating cyberspace to the physical components through tactile internet. Moreover, similarity-based methods can be used to perform peer to peer comparison across machines and help in better fault diagnosis and enhancing their efficiency.
- Cognition layer
In this layer, infographic tools are utilized to present the results of analytic studies to the users. Simple radar charts and degradation trends can be used for a simple representation of the component’s health condition. Then operators can easily make a decision based on the presented data.
- Configuration layer
In this layer, the decisions made in the Cognition layer are applied to the physical system to make the systems self-adapt, self-configure, and self resilient.