Smart Factories: Combining cutting-edge tech with traditional people power

Posted on 27 Jun 2019 by The Manufacturer

Smart Factories allow organisations to dream big, but begin small, by investing in improving key processes first and realising the benefits before expanding the scope of the project.

Smart Factories enable humans and technology to work together – connected by the Internet of Things (IoT) – to create more efficient, cost-effective business processes.

In many respects, IoT is less about the ‘things’ themselves, and more about connecting people and processes in a multitude of ways:


Any digital transformation has people at its heart, and there are many ways that smart factories can help organisations serve their customers and employees better.

Smart Factories - AMR 2019 - smart connected factories can help deliver better experiences for their customers that are purchasing productsFor example:

  • 40% of respondents to the Annual Manufacturing Report 2019 felt that smart connected factories can help deliver better experiences for their customers that are purchasing products. With greater visibility into inventory and product on hand, companies can report back to customers more accurately when they can expect to receive their products, resulting in greater customer satisfaction.
  • 32% of respondents felt that smart connected factories can help deliver better field service to their customers. With greater insights into plant or factory equipment performance, sensors and alerts can be set up to identify equipment that is underperforming. And field technicians can be dispatched directly based on the data from faulty equipment, so no time is wasted in processing service requests. Companies can now proactively address issues before they become crises.

Whether it is employees learning new skills to help them optimise processes, or consumers benefiting from the enhanced experience that IoT technologies can bring, smart connected factories can help to foster an environment of innovation and development by combining cutting-edge technology with traditional people power.

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From the factory floor to retail outlets, most industries have systems and processes that support the way they operate. These will involve specific equipment and assets – all of which can be monitored, maintained and optimised as part of the smart connected factory.

Having such technology in place can help drive business growth. For example:

  • 74% of respondents felt that smart connected technologies can help improve and streamline internal company processes, from the shop floor, across the organisation to the top executive floor. The discussion around the smart factory isn’t just that data should be captured, but what to do with that data once you have it. The ability to analyse the data coming from machines or from various touchpoints around the factory so that it yields actionable insights is critical to making business improvements. It starts with connecting those ‘things’ on the shop floor.
  • 91% of respondents felt strongly that data from connected machines and people will inform decision-making and reduce costs. This is due to the insights being revealed from IoT-linked machines around metrics such as performance, quality, and speed.

For most companies, the power of being connected is about optimising operations and achieving the long-standing goals of business: improving efficiency, cutting costs and generating new revenue streams

Linking all of these is the desire to become a best-in-class company and improve customer satisfaction – a crucial differentiator for any business.

At Epicor we believe that having the latest, industry-specific ERP platform, whether on-premise or in the cloud, is paramount to the future success of UK manufacturers. Our technology is an enabler for reaping the benefits of smart factory technologies which are changing the way our industry works right now.

We would love to find out more about how we can partner to support your business growth.

GO FURTHER: Industry 4.0 & The Factory of the Future

Industry 4.0 & The Factory of the Future Webinar - Screen Grab - Epicor UKThere has been a lot of buzz over the past few years about Industry 4.0. In this recorded webcast you will learn what Industry 4.0 is and why it matters to you.

There is a focus on the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart manufacturing, and how these concepts can help in your manufacturing plants.

There are also real-world examples of tools that can help you reduce costs, improve quality, and increase efficiency.

Click here to watch the webcast