The business of smart manufacturing is formed on the convergence of IT and OT, or information technologies and operation technologies. Digital transformation of an organization includes full connectivity from in sales, management, in house production, warehouse, all the way though the supply chain and logistics. The business structure will vary depending on the size of an organization and the market(s) it may serve. A typical stack may be represented as such:

  • Data : Machine Learning / AI
  • Management Level - ERP
  • Planning Level - MES
  • Supervisory Level
  • Control Level - SCADA
  • Field Level - Plant Floor

Data : Cloud Computing / Digital Twin /Machine Learning / AI

Large scale data collection is key tenant of any Industry 4.0 strategy. Cloud computing offers realtime data being stored and analyzed to be processed to better guide decisions to make an enterprise more efficient. Cloud computing scales as your needs grow. Data may also be used to create a digital twin, or virtual replicas to simulate trail processes before committing to full integration. Machine learning and AI help manufacturing companies utilize the information generated across their business units extending into partners and vendors. This information provides visibility, fault predictability and preventive maintenance guidance resulting in more uptime and higher efficiency.

Management Level : ERP

Enterprise Resource Planning is usually a suite of software applications that allow top executives to see everything inside a company. This is the complication of all of the below levels of integration. The goal is often to increase efficiency or production output. With Industry 4.0 it adds increased visibility for everyone in the organization. In a smaller enterprise ERP and MES might be one and the same.

Planning Level : MES

Management Execution System monitors the entire manufacturing process in a plant form the raw materials to the final product. This allows management to make decisions on the information collected about a production enterprise. An example would be to adjust materials or order shipments based on resources or output.

Supervisory Level : SCADA

Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition can be in the form of a hardware HMI (Human Machine Interface) or software. These can be in proximity of the floor devices but are often deployed remotely as it can monitor and control multiple systems from a single location.

Control Level : Edge Computing / IIoT

PLC's and PID's. Programmable logic controllers and Proportional integral derivative. These run the devices in the field level and are programmed by automation integrators. These programmers can be employees on premises or sub contractors called in as needed. A PLC takes in information readings from sensors and inout devices to make decision that effect outputs to complete a task, or start a new one. The PID keeps variables in between a set of defied parameters. A real world example would be the speed control on your automobile.

Operations : The Plant Floor

Often thought of as the mechanical process of production many companies lump in the human worker with sensors, actuators, motors, etc. Our view is hese are the most crucial people in your organization. Not only are they doing the bulk of the work they know the most about what is going on. Sure, your executive level and sales staff bring in the business. However today producing the product or keeping up with demand is the bottle neck. With the digitalization of everything let's empower those who are the backbone of your labor force to be invested in this process. Listen to their stories, their words matter. Encourage them to offer input in ways that will reduce their challenges. The smart factory, smart sensors, IIoT PLCs, connectivity make it possible for large amounts of valuable data to be collected, analyzed and exchanged. Brining the manufacturing floor into the discourse of the business will allow your employees feel more like a family member than a factory worker. The result will be a more productive environment.