Article | January 20, 2022
A smart factory that leverages Industry 4.0 concepts to elevate its operations has long been a model for other industries that are still figuring out how to travel the digital manufacturing route. Smart manufacturing technology is all you need to know if you're looking to cash in on this trend.
“Industry 4.0 is not really a revolution. It’s more of an evolution.”
– Christian Kubis
In this article, we'll look at the advantages that many smart factory pioneers are getting from their smart factories. In addition, we will look at the top smart factory examples and understand how they applied the Industry 4.0 idea and excelled in their smart manufacturing adoption.
Industry 4.0 Technology Benefits
Manufacturing Industry 4.0 has several benefits that can alter the operations of manufacturers. Beyond optimization and automation, smart manufacturing Industry 4.0 aims to uncover new business prospects and models by increasing the efficiency, speed, and customer focus of manufacturing and associated industries.
Key benefits of Manufacturing Industry 4.0 in production include:
Improved productivity and efficiency
Increased collaboration and knowledge sharing
Better agility and adaptability
Improved customer experience
Reduced costs and increased profitability
Creates opportunities for innovation
World Smart Factory Case Studies and Lessons to Be Learned
Schneider Electric, France SAS
Schneider Electric's le Vaudreuil plant is a prime example of a smart factory Industry 4.0, having been regarded as one of the most modern manufacturing facilities in the world, utilizing Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies on a large scale. The factory has included cutting-edge digital technology, such as the EcoStruxureTM Augmented Operator Advisor, which enables operators to use augmented reality to accelerate operation and maintenance, resulting in a 2–7% increase in productivity. EcoStruxureTM Resource Advisor's initial deployment saves up to 30% on energy and contributes to long-term improvement.
Johnson & Johnson DePuy Synthes, Ireland
DePuy Synthes' medical device manufacturing plant, which started in 1997, just underwent a multimillion-dollar makeover to better integrate digitalization and Industry 4.0 smart manufacturing. Johnson & Johnson made a big investment in the Internet of Things. By linking equipment, the factory used IoT technology to create digital representations of physical assets (referred to as “digital twins”). These digital twins resulted in sophisticated machine insights. As a result of these insights, the company was able to reduce operating expenditures while simultaneously reducing machine downtime.
Bosch's Wuxi factory's digital transformation uses IIoT and big data. The company integrates its systems to keep track of the whole production process at its facilities. Embedding sensors in production machinery collects data on machine status and cycle time. When data is collected, complicated data analytics tools analyze it in real-time and alert workers to production bottlenecks. This strategy helps forecast equipment failures and allows the organization to arrange maintenance ahead of time. As a consequence, the manufacturer's equipment may run for longer.
The Tesla Gigafactory, Germany
According to Tesla, the Berlin Gigafactory is the world's most advanced high-volume electric vehicle production plant. On a 300-hectare facility in Grünheide, it produces batteries, powertrains, and cars, starting with the Model Y and Model 3. For Tesla, the goal is not merely to make a smart car, but also to construct a smart factory. The plant's photographs reveal an Industry 4.0 smart factory with solar panels on the roof, resulting in a more sustainable production method. On its official website, Tesla claimed to use cutting-edge casting methods and a highly efficient body shop to improve car safety. Tesla's relentless pursuit of manufacturing efficiency has allowed them to revolutionize the car industry.
The SmartFactoryKL was established to pave the way for the future's "intelligent factory." It is the world's first manufacturer-independent Industry 4.0 production facility, demonstrating the value of high-quality, flexible manufacturing and the effectiveness with which it can be deployed. The last four years, SmartFactoryKL has been guided by particular strategic objectives that drive innovation; the aim is to see artificial intelligence integrated into production. Two instances of AI-driven transformations include an "order-to-make' mass customization platform and a remote AI-enabled, intelligent service cloud platform that anticipates maintenance needs before they occur.
Enabling smart manufacturing means using the latest technology to improve processes and products. The aforementioned smart factory examples are industry leaders and are thriving by implementing Industry 4.0 technology. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may use these smart factory examples to learn about the adoption process, challenges, and solutions. Industry 4.0 is aimed at improving enterprises and minimizing human effort in general. So adopt the smart factory concept and be productive.
What is the difference between a smart factory and a digital factory?
The digital factory enables the planning of factories using virtual reality and models, whereas the smart factory enables the operation and optimization of factories in real time.
Where does Industry 4.0 come from?
The term "Industry 4.0" was coined in Germany to represent data-driven, AI-powered, networked "smart factories" as the fourth industrial revolution's forerunner.
Article | June 15, 2022
Blockchain is a distributed database system consisting of a series of data blocks generated by cryptographic methods. Each block contains the hash value of the previous block, which is connected to the current block by the original block to form a blockchain. It overlays (chains) encrypted data (blocks) in chronological order to produce permanent and irreversible records.
Decentralization, independence, security, and other features characterize blockchain technology today, with decentralization being the most noticeable and vital attribute. Each node realizes information, self-verification, transfer, and management through distributed accounting and storage. Because of its encryption and security properties, it plays an important role in data file security in manufacturing.
Blockchain — Assurance for CNC Machining Data
As the potential of blockchain technology has grown in popularity, it has garnered the attention of various other industries, especially the machine shop industry. The computer numerical control (CNC) machining process is often used to machine critical parts for a variety of industries, from aerospace to medical. The process involves using computer-controlled machines to remove material from a workpiece to create the desired shape. Because CNC machining can be expensive and time-consuming, it's important to protect the data associated with the process.
Blockchain technology can be used to protect CNC machining data in several ways.
1. Blockchain provides a secure, immutable ledger that can record all aspects of the machining process. This means that if any changes are made to the data, they can be easily tracked and traced. Furthermore, because blockchain is decentralized, it can provide an extra layer of security by distributing the data across a network of computers. This makes it much more difficult for hackers to tamper with the data.
2. Blockchain can help with the management and tracking of inventory. In the past, machine shops had to rely on paper-based tracking systems, which were often inefficient and prone to error. With blockchain, each inventory item can be assigned a unique digital identify that can be tracked throughout the supply chain. This would allow machine shops to have a more accurate and efficient way of tracking their inventory.
3. Blockchain can also help machine shops manage customer orders. In the past, machine shops have often had to deal with a lot of paperwork when it comes to processing customer orders. With blockchain, however, all this information can be stored on the ledger in a secure and tamper-proof way. This would make it much easier for machine shops to process customer orders and ultimately lead to improved customer satisfaction.
Blockchain Promotes Distributed 3D Printing
In theory, 3D printing is the perfect mode of production for distributed manufacturing. Digital files can be easily transferred, regardless of geographical restrictions, as long as there is a 3D printer, and it is equipped with the right material to print anywhere. But it is only a good vision, and there are still many problems in the real implementation.
First, if the 3D printing model is downloaded by the user, there is a risk of being tampered with or forwarded at will; if the model is distributed to the service provider or manufacturer for remote printing, it is also possible to print more than authorized, which will lead to intellectual property theft.
Designers have largely no control over how many designs can be printed after they are sold, which means they are often compelled to sell designs at higher prices, whether users plan to print one or thousands of them. The high price is also unfair to individual users who are using it solely for their own printing.
Perhaps, we can solve the current problem with the help of Bitcoin's blockchain technology.
The Blockchain of How to Perform 3D Printing
1. Protect 3D printed files by hashing algorithms. The encryption algorithm generates a fingerprint of a unique hash value for each file based on its contents. This is a sign that ensures the uniqueness of the file with a short message that is related to every byte of the file, and it is difficult to find the reverse rule. The blockchain does not store the file itself but a hash value that verifies its authenticity. Unless identical, no two files will have the same hash value; changing anything about the data will result in a different hash value. Through the improvement of this technology, the 3D print file is converted into a digital workpiece on the blockchain, and the unique fingerprint of each workpiece is used to verify its authenticity and uniqueness.
2. Protect access to data through encryption. After the first step, the encryption conversion of the 3D printed file has been realized, and then the access rights are marked and bound to the stored hash value of the file. When a 3D print file is shared, the recipient gets a token that allows access. The file cannot be decrypted without this token, ensuring that the 3D printable data is authenticated. With the methods mentioned above, we can effectively encrypt and protect the transferred model files, thus preventing the model from being downloaded and forwarded at will, because each step is recorded and required to be used through a specified token. However, if you want to further limit the number or number of prints of the model, you need the support of 3D printers.
The Benefits of 3D Printing Using Blockchain
The biggest advantage is the establishment of trust. The designer no longer has to worry about the illegal use of his design. Designers just need to concentrate on improving their skills to make a better model. Individual users can also choose different ways to print files, either by the number of times or by directly downloading the files, but now the price will be relatively lower, and the source of the model is transparent. Manufacturers can also choose to produce locally near their customers, which in turn reduces storage and transportation. On-demand production is also good for environmental protection and carbon neutralization. In addition to selling real goods, brand manufacturers can also sell printable documents to customers for replacement parts, customization, and accessories. This is all because their IP will be protected by the blockchain.
In short, the 3D printing blockchain will to a greater extent promote the use of 3D printing technology, while the blockchain will give 3D printing transactions in the form of "tokens". Think about the early days of Bitcoin and, in turn, look at the monetization of the 3D printing blockchain. Maybe one day, the usage time of our machines can also be sold online, and 3D printed documents can be traded in a variety of monetary ways.
Article | February 3, 2022
Inventory management in warehouse is a never-ending cycle till the time the business is in operation. As your business expands, so does the amount of effort and money spent on warehouse inventory management. After all, the more orders you receive, the more time you'll need to spend on inventory replenishment and warehouse organization.
Fortunately, there are several methods to enhance the warehouse inventory management process, from more efficient storage to the use of automation and other solutions that can minimize manual labor, human error, and total expenses.
In this article, we will look at some of the key challenges that manufacturers face while managing their warehouse inventory and their solutions. Furthermore, we see the best practices for optimizing your warehouse inventory management that would ultimately enhance the efficiency of business operations.
Warehousing and Inventory Management Best Practices
Appoint a Warehouse Supervisor
Managing an effective warehouse begins with hiring a qualified manager. Your organization should choose a warehouse manager with substantial expertise in operating a warehouse comparable to the one you will be operating. A skilled warehouse manager ensures that everything runs smoothly. He/she must be organized, knowledgeable about warehouse operations and technology, and function as a quarterback for the warehouse's rest of the team.
Your warehouse manager will monitor your staff to ensure things are correctly scanned and cataloged. Additionally, they will frequently engage with your warehouse inventory management software to keep a bird's eye perspective on your goods. Finally, your warehouse manager will be responsible for handling any inconsistencies or challenges that develop, so that they respond dynamically anytime your warehouse staff discovers a problem. Some attributes to look out for in your warehouse manager are: organizational ability, precision, tech-savvy, safety-mindedness, leadership, integrity, and a sense of calm.
Plan the Warehouse Layout
The structural layout of your warehouse will either assist or limit your warehouse workers' ability to promptly pick, load, and send items out in response to a sale or transfer request. By dividing warehouses into zones or slots and numbering aisles and bins, warehouse employees may more easily navigate the storage facility. While not all warehouses are designed the same way, an organized warehouse is necessary for effective operations. The way you plan your warehouse space will depend on the things you store. For example, a warehouse containing huge machinery may have specialized zones, whereas a warehouse storing small retail products will have bins and aisles.
Optimizing your warehouse plan will not only enhance space utilization but also increase warehouse productivity and save you money. Consequently, this helps you reach your company goals and satisfy your customers with on-time deliveries.
Create a Workflow
Maintaining an efficient inventory control warehouse is critical to avoid bottlenecks and out-of-stock situations. In addition, a streamlined inventory workflow can assist you in keeping your buyers satisfied and convert them into loyal customers. So, how would you establish an efficient workflow?
Here are some helpful warehousing and inventory management suggestions:
Make an attempt to estimate future sales.
Use tools that assess old sales and forecast future sales for you.
Set a minimum production quantity for each product. This helps to avoid losing sales and income due to product shortages.
Set a maximum stock limit. This assists in avoiding overstocking a product, which can result in considerable losses.
Ensure that products are delivered out in the order in which they were received (first in, first out) to maintain product freshness and reduce shelf life.
Use a warehouse inventory management system. This is the simplest and most effective method of maintaining a steady inventory flow.
Invest in Warehouse Inventory Software
A warehouse management system (WMS) is a software solution designed to automate, optimize, and support the operations and activities of a business warehouse. It can automate and simplify a variety of warehouse management operations and maintain a real-time inventory record of all available goods. When goods arrive and depart the warehouse, your warehouse inventory management system will accurately show all inventories and its whereabouts.
Warehouse inventory management software may be configured to automatically replenish stock when a predefined minimum number of items are reached. The finest software analyzes previous sales data automatically to identify the appropriate minimum number for automated reordering. It also determines the minimum quantities at which each product should be replenished.
Warehouse Inventory Challenges and Solutions
Limited Visibility & Solution
Inventory visibility refers to the ability to view and track inventory in real-time. It also helps gain insight into the exact number of units of each SKU in stock at all locations, along with its location within a warehouse or fulfillment center.
When inventory is difficult to identify or find in your warehouse, it can result in incomplete, inaccurate, or delayed shipments. Receiving and locating the correct stock is essential for smooth running warehouse operations as it helps to maintain a positive customer experience.
Solution: To optimize purchasing and receiving operations, increase accuracy, and eliminate missing goods. Including photos with correct product descriptions in your inventory database can also be helpful. Investing in inventory management software is, once again, the best way to overcome low inventory visibility. These systems are meant to automate the process of inventory management across the supply chain, all from a single dashboard. The adoption of digital and data-driven procedures allows businesses to have a comprehensive view of inventory management in warehouse.
Inventory Depletion & Solution
Unsold goods are considered a loss in inventory. Multiple factors contribute to inventory depletion or shrinkage. Sometimes stocks can become obsolete or out-of-date before being sold. In addition, spoilage, damage, or theft are a few other reasons for inventory loss and can be referred to as a serious supply chain issue. Therefore, it is necessary to identify, track, and measure trouble areas.
Solution: Using a third-party logistics (3PL) or fulfillment service (fulfillment solution) increases security. To reduce inventory shrinkage, they'll take the necessary steps to keep your goods secure. They'll provide you with the technology and reports you need to keep an eye on stock levels.
Using an Old Excel Spreadsheet & Solution
The expansion of a company will be hampered if inventory is managed manually using paper-based techniques. A lack of digitalization and an ineffective inventory management procedure yield dismal outcomes when sales volumes rise and inventory increases. It is time to replace excel spreadsheets with newer technologies like business intelligence and to analyze and track large businesses better.
Solution: Having an inventory management system will make the process more efficient and provide you with real-time data. Businesses utilize various inventory management systems, depending on their type of operations. Manual inventory, periodic inventory, and perpetual inventory are three examples of inventory management approaches. Another option is to use one of the several software programs such as Upserve, Megaventory, and Orderhive for inventory management that are currently available on the market.
Warehouse Space Management & Solution
A warehouse layout that facilitates the simple selection, packaging, and shipping of orders is a sign of efficient warehouse space management. Designing a functional warehouse layout is critical since it directly influences the efficiency and productivity of your warehouse. A well-designed warehouse layout enables easy access to stored goods, saves travel time, and increases order fulfillment rates.
Solution: Optimize storage space and inventory flow by utilizing inventory management systems that include warehouse management features. Automate order picking, packaging, and shipping operations by categorizing inventory storage by shelf, bin, and compartment.
Communication Difficulties & Solution
Collaboration and communication are critical in the management of warehouse. Lack of communication in a warehouse can result in disorganized operations, resulting in errors and inefficient processes. In practice, this might imply that stock is misplaced or delayed, resulting in a negative customer experience.
Solution: Warehouse workers should be equipped with phones and radios for one-on-one communication. Mobile devices are the foundation of portable communication, which is critical for warehouse employees who are always on the move. Supervisors and managers must have a PA system, also known as a public address system, to make announcements in an emergency or when loading and unloading goods.
Another option to simplify warehouse operations is to distribute wearable GPS devices to your employees. Using cloud-based software to manage inventory also provides the best solution for checking stock and communicating data across departments.
Warehousing and inventory management affect every step of your e-commerce supply chain, from receiving and storing goods to fulfilling and shipping orders. Poor warehouse inventory management may lead to higher logistics costs, dissatisfied warehouse personnel, more picking and packing errors, delayed shipments, and disappointed customers. However, with some of the best practices mentioned above, you may improve your warehouse inventory management. You can take advantage of the solutions to most of the key challenges listed above.
What are the four ways to control inventory?
The four key ways of controlling inventory are as follows: just-in-time delivery, downloading inventory software, stock control, and lowering carrying costs.
How is inventory management different from warehouse management?
The primary difference between the two systems is the human component. While inventory management is concerned exclusively with merchandise or stock, warehouse management includes the administration of workers as well as shipping or shipping professionals who work in a warehouse setting.
What are the four inventory management types?
Primarily, inventory management is grouped into four types:
Maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) goods
Article | December 13, 2021
Lean manufacturing principles enable manufacturing businesses to achieve spectacular results and overhaul their conventional operations. A wide range of industries have adopted lean manufacturing because of its enormous advantages, and they have seen excellent results as a result.
The 2010 Compensation Data Manufacturing survey indicated that 69.7% of manufacturing organizations employ lean manufacturing principles. By consuming this data, we can understand how far organizations have progressed toward incorporating lean principles into their operations.
“Many companies are not willing to change or think they are done once they make a change. But the truth is technology, consumer demands; the way we work, human needs, and much more are constantly changing.”
–Michael Walton, Director, Manufacturing Industry Executive at Microsoft
Let's look at some examples of lean manufacturing from some well-known companies. These leading-edge examples of lean manufacturing will shed light on how lean principles positively affect.
Leading Companies Using Lean Manufacturing Effectively
Successful manufacturing businesses like Toyota, Nike, and Caterpillar are currently employing lean manufacturing ideas in their production processes. In addition, Intel, Parker Hannifin, and John Deere embrace these techniques. From them, we've described three different organizations in various sectors that are successfully adopting lean manufacturing.
John Deere has also implemented a lean manufacturing strategy. As a result, many of their quality control procedures are automated, which means that more components can be checked for flaws in less time. This means that more supply can be released each day, and the product can be supplied at a lower price to the consumer.
Additionally, these controls monitor the manufacturing process for each component of their products, ensuring that they never manufacture more than is required and waste essential materials in the process.
Intel, known for its computer processors, has used lean manufacturing techniques to provide a higher quality product for an industry that requires zero defects. In the past, it took more than three months to get a microprocessor to the manufacturer, but this principle has helped shorten that time to less than ten days.
Intel rapidly learned that creating more but worse quality was not the way to raise revenues and increase consumer satisfaction with its products, which were extremely precise and technical. Instead, both parties gain from quality control and waste reduction initiatives. This is even true in the tech industry, where goods are constantly changed and upgraded.
Toyota, the world's largest automaker, was the first to implement lean manufacturing in its manufacturing operations. But, even more importantly, they've learned how to limit products that don't match customer expectations by eliminating waste. To achieve these goals, Toyota employs two essential procedures.
The first is a method known as Jidoka, which loosely translates as "automation with the assistance of humans." This implies that, although some of the work is automated, humans always ensure that the result is of the highest quality.
When something goes wrong, the machines have built-in programs that allow them to shut themselves down. Known as the Just In Time (JIT) model, this is the second stage. Once the last part of a process has been finished, the next phase can begin. No unnecessary work will be done if there is a problem with the assembly line. This lean manufacturing technique has inspired thousands of other businesses.
Lean manufacturing principles and their execution require discipline and patience to get the results out of them. When we see the successful lean manufacturing examples, it is not a fraction of a second success. They have devoted their time, energy, and efforts to modifying every single operational process in order to become a part of lean manufacturing. Lean manufacturing is not a method; it is a way of life that transforms your business practices and takes your firm to a new level of operations. Gain insights from renowned organizations' lean manufacturing success stories to help you become a part of the lean companies of 2022.
What is the effect of lean manufacturing?
Lean is a performance-based, continuous-improvement strategy that removes waste and unnecessary processes from organizational operations. As a result, your company becomes more focused on the results.
Is it possible for lean manufacturing to fail?
It is conceivable in some circumstances, such as failing to focus on a single system implementation or implementing too many system changes at once and failing to have a sound follow-up system to check that everything is working effectively.
Why do certain businesses struggle with lean manufacturing?
Most businesses fail to see that lean is a management philosophy, not a set of tools. As a result, most corporate leaders either don't understand or lack the patience and control to implement lean manufacturing.
"name": "What is the effect of lean manufacturing?",
"text": "Lean is a performance-based, continuous-improvement strategy that removes waste and unnecessary processes from organizational operations. As a result, your company becomes more focused on the results."
"name": "Is it possible for lean manufacturing to fail?",
"text": "It is conceivable in some circumstances, such as failing to focus on a single system implementation or implementing too many system changes at once and failing to have a sound follow-up system to check that everything is working effectively."
"name": "Why do certain businesses struggle with lean manufacturing?",
"text": "Most businesses fail to see that lean is a management philosophy, not a set of tools. As a result, most corporate leaders either don't understand or lack the patience and control to implement lean manufacturing."