The Connected Virtual Factory Model

The success of Industry 4.0 doesn’t rely upon any single component; rather on the connection and interaction of all of them.

Big Data, Advanced Analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) are enablers of Industry 4.0, providing the advanced connectivity required for the Smart Factory. Large volumes of data, at a very detailed level, can be analyzed and modeled to produce plans and schedules that provide immense competitive advantage.

From determining the best product mix and sequencing in manufacture, to optimally loading each connected workstation, the flow of data around the connected factory is invaluable to efficient production.

Realistic operation depends on factors such as material supply, equipment availability and other constraints that can be added into the simulation together with real-time data to produce an optimized plan. The connected factory uses this plan to produce an optimized schedule, before displaying it on dashboards and charts for implementation, information and monitoring.

Machine to machine communication improves production efficiencies throughout the process and information flow throughout the facility tracks the location and status of all raw materials, work-in-progress and finished goods.

When any change happens, reassessment is quick and easy, modeling the altered conditions in the simulation in order to be able to re-optimize and consequently re-schedule with minimal disruption. Since all components are linked, delivery times can be recalculated and assured, priorities maintained and production deadlines met.

Making the Connection

As well as ensuring on-time and on-cost delivery, improved information flow and scheduling can be used in many ways throughout the supply and distribution chains. Examples of this include:

  • Providing more accurate purchasing schedules for suppliers, giving them more notice and flexibility.
  • Determining the remaining useful life of products in the field, to allow for timely replacement.
  • Alerting customers, by means of intelligent parts or products in the field, when servicing is needed.

Information and expertise is shared through the connection, both ways, to collaborate for overall gain.

Where traditional manufacturing facilities might rely on forecasts and assumptions for planning and scheduling, a connected Smart Factory constantly gathers and processes data to make sure that it is done with knowledge and insight.

Simio Advanced Planning and Scheduling Software processes connected Smart Factory data, performing real-time risk analysis, to provide fast and accurate Production Scheduling.

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