Is a Smart Factory enough to reach Industry 4.0?

Posted on 8 Jul 2016 by Jonny Williamson

A 'Smart Factory' alone isn't enough if manufacturers are going to fully embrace the opportunities presented by Industry 4.0. Instead, businesses need to concentrate their efforts on creating smart value chains, which connect people, products and communities.

Smart Factory The Manufacturing Forum allowed manufacturing leaders to hear how the industrial landscape is rapidly evolving.
The Manufacturing Forum allowed manufacturing leaders to hear how the industrial landscape is rapidly evolving.

That’s the view from global manufacturers, including Hewlett Packard Enterprise; Rolls Royce; Airbus; GE Oil and Gas; The Manufacturing Technology Centre, and ABB who made up the Smart Factory panel at the recent Manufacturing Forum.

Organised by The Economist Events, the forum allowed manufacturing leaders to hear how the industrial landscape is rapidly evolving in order to cater for different customers, respond to more challenging demands, and continually innovate to remain successful.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) calls this “Connected Manufacturing”, but insists that digitising a production facility and creating a Smart Factory isn’t enough if the sector is going to fully embrace Industry 4.0.

VP and head of manufacturing industry at HPE, Martin Rainer commented: “If we are going to truly digitise the manufacturing industry and take full advantage of the opportunities presented by Connected Manufacturing, we need to digitise our entire value chains, not just our factories.

Innovation Stock - KTN - June 2016
HPE says that digitising a production facility isn’t enough if the manufacturing sector is going to fully embrace Industry 4.0.

“Manufacturers need to start looking beyond their traditional boundaries and think about connecting everybody in the value chain from third party logistics providers to R&D departments, to partners, customers and even consumers.

“The manufacturing industry is changing fast. With the rise of demanding customers, availability of digital technologies and the individualisation and immediacy of products that this creates, manufacturers are being forced to understand the vision of consumers, and service both B2B and B2C markets.

“This makes it even more important to find out who is dictating value in the value chain, and to digitise entire communities around that value.”

Head of industrial technology, partnerships and business development at Airbus, Alisa Adel, revealed that there are a staggering 4 million parts in an Airbus 380, manufactured in 1,500 factories in 30 countries around the world.

She made the point that often, the most valuable components of any supply chain are the innovative SME communities that feed into it.

Rainer agreed, stating: “We need to stop managing the supply chain and start collaborating with it instead.

“Some manufacturers are already digitising operations and integrating Tier One suppliers into this process, but to create smart supply chains, we also need to collaborate with – and integrate – Tier Two and Tier Three suppliers into any digitisation strategy.

TM Smart Factory Expo

Nov 2-3, The NEC (Birmingham)

The Manufacturer Smart Factory Expo is the UK’s only dedicated exhibition in response to Industry 4.0

Showcasing the best solution providers and technology offerings, this unique event is for manufacturing business leaders keen to adopt the relevant tools and knowledge to drive business growth.

  •  Learn about how Industry 4.0 can improve your business
  •  Discover new, more cost-effective solutions to existing processes
  •  Network with new suppliers, customers and business partners
  • Compare solutions across every product sector
  •  Watch live demonstrations of the latest products & how they integrate with each other
  •  Keep up to date with emerging technology