If you’re unfamiliar with smart manufacturing, it’s defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as “fully-integrated, collaborative manufacturing systems that respond in real time to meet changing demands and conditions in the factory, in the supply network, and in customer needs.”

So far, only 11% of manufacturers have implemented a strategy to apply IIoT technologies to production processes and about half of manufacturers say they are still struggling with the basics of defining and implementing an IIoT strategy.

This means that most manufacturers aren’t getting the most out of their operations and are missing out on opportunities for productivity, profitability, innovation, and more.

But, what about plants who have implemented smart manufacturing?

The Benefits of a Smart Manufacturing Operation

Smart manufacturing has helped plant floors evolve and adjust with technological advances and consumer demand.

With an integrated and connected system, smart manufacturing helps plant managers and owners to:

Increase productivity: with a transparent look at the plant floor, issues are spotted and resolved faster, adjustments are made in real-time, and all management levels have access to crucial operational information.

Improve product quality: through quality management and machine intelligence, managers monitor output proactively to identify and address defects quickly to ensure quality goals are met.

Ensure reliable operations: when machines are connected to an integrated IIoT smart manufacturing system allows diagnostics can be automatically monitored in real-time. This allows managers to identify which machines need to be addressed before they fail.

But moving to a smart manufacturing floor isn’t enough. The process of turning a traditional plant floor into a smart, connected and fully integrated one is just the first step and monitoring and tracking is crucial for ROI.

That’s why many plant owners and managers implement manufacturing software into their operation to measure overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).

Combining Smart Manufacturing with the Right Software

The right software can help plant managers and owners realize consistent and steady high-quality manufacturing output by monitoring machine diagnostics and isolating causes for downtime. This software, coupled with the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT), is proving to be advantageous. But not all software is created equal. It’s important that plant owners and managers choose the manufacturing software that is right for their operation.

Many choose fully configurable production management software for high-quality output because it gives them a complete and transparent view of their shop floor. Plus, with real-time reporting and 24/7 monitoring of operations through any device with a browser, they’re able to monitor operations at anytime from anywhere. This means that the shop floor is never left ‘in the dark’ and operations can be assessed and optimized at any time.

The Results

So, are companies really benefiting from the move to a smart manufacturing operation or is it still for debate? The answer is yes.

Companies who have made the shift and have implemented IIoT capable manufacturing software have seen tremendous gains.

For example, Caterpillar, the world’s largest leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives, turned to 5ME’s Freedom eLog. They had a very large population of plant floor assets, with huge variations in machine brand, control type, process and age. While they had experimented with Asset Monitoring solutions in the past, those initiatives proved unsuccessful.

Discover how CAT used the insights derived from Freedom eLOG to reduce delay times by 59%, decreased part setup times by 39%, and increased In-Cycle time by 30% to create $1.2 million in production value.
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