The Imperatives for a Factory of the Future: Digital. Flexible. Green.
In this episode of To the Edge and Beyond, Christine Boles and Muthuraman “Ram” Ramasamy discuss three imperatives for the Factory of the Future. Those imperatives are that the factory must be digital, flexible, and green. Industry 4.0 holds promise, but there is much work ahead to realize the benefits created by technological innovation.
The “Race to Zero,” or to become carbon neutral, is a focus for the future factory. Still, many factories have a long way to go to achieve their sustainability goals. Much of manufacturing relies on older machinery with antiquated operations, so making the leap to more sustainable equipment is a journey.
Boles believes that manufacturers of all sizes face myriad challenges that call for increasing flexibility. There are staffing shortages, supply chain issues, and rapidly changing demands.
“Despite those industry-wide challenges, and regardless of the company’s size, there’s a shared end goal [that they] all have,” Boles says. “Whether it’s the improvement of safety, the increased quality or quantity of output, [or reduction in its] carbon footprint, a successful transformation approach [will] vary by organization and size.”
The path upon which each manufacturing company embarks towards the future factory will differ, but Boles contends that companies must take trusted partners – with a deep knowledge of industry-wide challenges and the organization’s unique issues – along on the journey. She says it’s not about these trusted partners “necessarily giving [manufacturers] the plan, but helping each organization create [its] own strategy and roadmap for solution deployments.”
Boles believes that, when organizations free themselves from proprietary and closed systems, they can realize the benefits of technological innovations. Multi-vendor, interoperable solutions with commercially available hardware and software components create flexibility and value for the Factory of the Future.