Smart manufacturers need to talk

Posted on 1 Jul 2015 by The Manufacturer

In today's manufacturing environment ‘Smart Factories’ and ‘Industry 4.0’ are just two of the terms that are shaping the direction the industry is heading in.

Driven by technological advances, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), every stage of the supply chain could become an integrated network transferring data instantaneously, resulting in greater automation and accelerated production cycles.

Smart manufacturing is almost exclusively referred to in terms of technological enhancements to machinery to connect them to a network that transfers data in real-time. What is rarely considered in this evolution is the role the communication network could play across the workforce and what benefits can be drawn from such enhancements.

For years there has been an enforced disconnect between colleagues and departments because of the sheer expanse of plants, nature of having a mobile workforce and rollout of different communication devices (mobiles, desk phones and radios) across job roles. Now we discover that almost 60% of manufacturers see connecting two-way radios to other devices as important and 92% specifically want to connect radios to smartphones.[1]

Whilst the smart factory is a vision of the future with real merit in terms of improving efficiencies, reducing waste and production cycles it is not a solution that can be rolled out immediately with little investment. The same cannot be said for business-critical communications; the workforce already exists, they already have communication devices, the missing piece is that they are just not connected. Until now.

Everything connected like never before

Building on existing investment and leveraging broadband technologies, WAVE Work Group Communications from Motorola Solutions ensures the right people are connected when required, wherever they are, whatever they do. From two-way radios to smartphones, laptops to landlines, tablets to rugged handhelds no one is beyond reach.

These are exciting times for an industry that, in the wake of the global financial crisis, has had significant struggles to overcome in recent years. The resurgence in manufacturing at home in order to secure a stable economy means £11bn a year is now being invested in innovation within the EU[2]. If this investment leads to the smart factory and machine-to-machine connectivity that can only be a good thing but it’s not going to happen overnight – especially for the smaller or midsize plants.

To discover more about WAVE Work Group Communications and the power it has to unlock greater efficiency download this whitepaper.

Capitalising on investments that have already been made to encourage a workforce to collaborate without obstacle is something that can be done today and with immediate results.

[1] 2015 Study: Innovations in Plant Communications, Motorola Solutions, 2015.

[2] Manufacturing Our Future in Europe, EEF, 2013