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Innovative Thinking

The Rise of the Smart Factory

The Factory of the Future, better known as Smart Factory, is a paradise of efficiency where words like defect, downtime, and delays exist only within historical facility logs. The facility is powered by a web of interconnected devices operating together in harmony for the satisfaction of clients and customers within time frames, and at a manageable cost.

Such a factory represents the epitome of technological development, illustrating a perfect mix between high-tech tools and skilled workers that complement each other. And while this may still be a fantastic dream, its much closer than one might think.

Top Technological Trends in Material Handling

Many of the technologies that are changing the fabric of the society are also entering other sectors such as material handling. Warehouses and distribution centers are now faced with concepts such as Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, and Big Data. These concepts can greatly improve the efficiency of the establishment, but they can possess a steep learning curve.

While still new to the industrial world, these concepts are already finding use within industries that will serve as proving grounds for new material handling technologies. The future of warehouse management is dependent on a handful of key technologies that include Big Data and the Internet of Things.

Importance of Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE)

There are several important metrics manufacturing managers use to either gauge or improve their facilities’ efficiency or productivity. One of the most common is called Overall Equipment Efficiency, or OEE. Having an in-depth understanding of OEE and its importance can help managers achieve their efficiency targets in a timely fashion, without requiring frequent interventions.

OEE is a way to measure the efficiency of a process or machine in a facility.  Some use OEE as a key performance indicator, or KPI, to rate their facility against other facilities or to show how well their facility performs. However, OEE’s main purpose is to show how to improve a process’s efficiency in a facility.

HMI/Historian Integration

HMIs, or human-machine interfaces, allow easy control and interaction between operator and machine. However, the data they collect can be underutilized. This is why integrating historians with HMIs is recognized as an effective data collection method.

Historians are software for data collection which can then be stored in spreadsheets, files, and other database products. This allows the information to be accessible for reporting on different trends and to refer back to later on. HMIs allow the data to be seen in real time before the historian software records it, as well as historical data replay if the HMI/SCADA is set up properly.

Integrated Drive Systems Ensure Application Reliability

Because of their many benefits, Variable Frequency Drives, or VFDs, are swiftly surfacing in large industrial systems with complex motor systems requirements. The benefits of VFDs include higher system efficiency, operation flexibility, and improved reliability. The key to success behind this adoption of VFDs is developing clear-cut, well-defined requirements for running drives and motors. Having requirements in such a form allows components to be designed in an optimum manner, resulting in highest reliability and lowest cost of ownership.