Smart factories are affordable and offer fully integrated automation solutions for manufacturing facilities to streamline the flow of materials during the manufacturing process. Smart factories are characterized by increasing the use of technology and field devices to offer complete automation in manufacturing process.
By incorporating cyber physical system into the forefront of manufacturing flow, smart factories are able to connect every process and component across the value chain. This interconnection of information and production has revolutionized the automation industry and thereby, facilitated manufacturing units to perform at an optimum level. Moreover, manufacturing companies are able to achieve shortest time to market and zero waste production through smart factories.
Automation in smart factories makes the use of various control devices such as sensors, motors, drives, switches and relays and networks technologies such as wired, wireless and radio frequency identification (RFID). Integrated systems such as Manufacturing Execution System (MES), Information Technology (IT) system, Programmable Logic Control (PLC), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) are designed to meet the specific requirements of a manufacturing unit.
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These industrial control systems manage the process and streamline the flow of materials across the manufacturing line. Smart factories also make use of industrial robots such as articulated robots, SCARA (Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm or Selective Compliance Articulated Robot Arm) robots, Cartesian robots, cylindrical and other robots for various manufacturing processes such as painting, welding, conveyance, heavy lifting etc.
One of the major factors driving the growth of smart factory market is the increasing need for improving efficiency and energy saving in the manufacturing process. Automation has enabled manufacturing units to utilize every second of production time through efficient streamlining of the manufacturing process.
Technological advancements such as machine to machine communication enable smart factories to eliminate wastage of time caused due to the delay in the process change. Moreover, with rise of Internet of Things (IoT) and services, integration of manufacturing and engineering processes has experienced a tremendous leap forward. However, the growth of smart factory market faces a few restraints due to lack of standardization and interoperability issues.
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These factors raise concerns in designing integrated solutions using components provided by several automation solution providers. The shortage of trained workers and increasing skill gap further restrains the growth of smart factory market. Other crucial factors such as cyber security threats and associated costs limit the growth of this smart factory market in industries such nuclear, weapons and armaments.
With its immense applications in industries such as automotive and transportation, packaging, mining of minerals and metals, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and process industries such as oil and gas, the smart factory market is expected to experience immense growth in coming years. Thereby, companies have invested heavily to explore untapped opportunities in the applications of industrial robots and control devices.
Some of the major players in smart factory market include Intel Corporation, General Dynamics Corporation, CMC Associates, Freescale Semiconductor Inc., Honeywell International Inc., Johnson Controls Inc., Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, Rockwell Automation Inc., Siemens AG, Schneider Electric SA, General Electric Co., Apriso Corporation, Emerson Electric Co., Invensys Plc., Teledyne Technologies Inc., ABB Ltd., Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, and National Instruments Corporation.
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