Forbes: The Four Levels of a Smart Factory Evolution

For many manufacturers, the path to building a Smart Factory is still confusing because of information overload.  In order to overcome this challenge, manufacturers should view this transformation as a journey with four stages that reap ongoing benefits to their operations . As with any extensive company-wide transformation, trying to achieve the end goal too quickly can leave you back where you started, having wasted time and money.

It’s critical that manufacturers understand that the Smart Factory is primarily about data.

Prior to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, commonly known as Industry 4.0, manufacturers relied on clipboards and manual methods to collect machine data, perform root-cause analysis, or gain insight into their operations. But as the competitive landscape of manufacturing changed, and consumer demand increased, the industry reached a point where these manual processes were no longer efficient. In fact, they cost manufacturers time and money in the form of lost productivity, suboptimal machine output and product quality.

The Smart Factory evolution is about building upon the advancements of the Third Industrial Revolution by automating the collection of data from machines and applications, and transforming that data into immediate insights. This new technology turns the tedious, but critical, process of extracting insights from data into one that is instantaneous, streamlined, and achievable for every manufacturer.

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