4 trends every SME should follow to be smart factories, says I4MS
Smart factories are no longer science fiction, says I4MS – ICT Innovation for Manufacturing SMEs, The European Commission initiative to digitalise the manufacturing industry. It reports that 5G technologies, smart sensors, artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing, and automation are now available and ready to transform European manufacturing’s small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) into the most efficient, productive, and sustainable factories.
Smart factories are recognised as fundamental to the future of competitive manufacturing in Europe. There is no doubt, says I4MS, that the European Commission has fully understood the potential for the industry to adopt the processes of smart manufacturing.
Visibility, connectivity and autonomy are the key characteristics of the smart factories. Nevertheless, these are the four trends that every SMEs should adopt to follow the pathway of becoming smart factories.
- Data, data and more data
“The world’s data production has grown so quickly that 90% of all the world’s data was produced in the last three years” (2020). Maximising the production and solving the challenges of manufacturing cannot be achieved without the use of data. Factories have to develop the capacities to collect, coordinate, and contextualise the data to ensure their transformation to the industry 4.0.
- IoT is for you
The idea is to be able to monitor in real-time all kind of objects by adding sensors which transforms them into intelligence devices: “IoT enables automation as never before, with machines making split-second decisions based on real-time data. Industry 4.0 gives you not just smart factories, but also tremendous data to facilitate decision making in product management and product engineering” (2022).
MANDOLIN is a project from DIH World part of the I4MS initiative. The experiment supports Regional Short Food Supply Chain by secure system to guarantee access to necessary knowledge related to food production from region and sharing knowledge across all chains including food producers, primary producers (farmers), retailers and consumers in a secure form. The result will be a prototype of a solution integrating in secure form Internet of Things, Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud technologies, Interaction, Cybersecurity to support local production of food, Circular Economy and local consumption.
- Embrace industry 4.0 technologies
Price, training, etc. Adopting new technologies can be overwhelming and sometimes it is not easy to understand the medium-long term impact of the investment for a small company of such implementation. European initiatives like I4MS with the goal of manufacturing the European SMEs has contributed the past years to bring the industry 4.0 technologies by proposing funding opportunities in European regions through attractive open calls and tools to match with technology providers, to grow your network, or to find financial support.
- Build a smart workforce
In industry 5.0, a complement to the industry 4.0, the worker is an asset for the company meaning that the employer has to be willing to provide training and well-being: “The worker is not to be considered as a ‘cost’, but rather as an ‘investment’ position for the company, allowing both the company and the worker to develop” (Industry 5.0 towards a sustainable human-centric and resilient European industry, 2021). The I4MS training catalogue offers to the SMEs a list of training addressed to all levels of instruction.
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