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The Connected Factory: Connecting Staff, Machines, Systems and Data on the Factory Floor

The future of the manufacturing industry is being influenced by the connected factory or smart factory – these include cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things and cloud computing, all of which are becoming more and more popular as companies strive to achieve operational excellence through automated processes and streamlined operations. This, of course, is brought about by connecting factory staff, workplace machines, enterprise management systems and its data – connecting these variables together and having them work seamlessly in synergy is the future of the manufacturing industry.

The powerhouse behind a connection of this scale is ERP software and more specifically, sap how it connects and communicates to digital machines such as industrial weighing and packing instruments, check weighers, scanners, printers and labelers on the factory floor.

Access to the Right Data
Access to uniform, real-time data on the factory floor powers operating staff and managers to make better decisions and boost productivity through digitally supported continuous process improvement.  As data and metrics are in real time and consistent throughout the company,  decisions are easier to make as the data is available to back it up. Additionally, fewer errors are made or lost in transition as a result of one true data source.

Operational Automation
Time-saving through operational automation is a characteristic of connected factories as manual data collection and analysis methods make way for automated processes – clipboard, step aside.

Automated processes save time, money and resources as artificial intelligence and the internet of things are able to transmit and relay data digitally instead of manually collecting or inputting data to separate machines and systems.

Increased Performance Transparency
Increased transparency on the production line, as well as access to real-time data for each employee on the line, provides insights into individual team member performance. ERP software can give insights into production staff performance on the line, for example, staff performance on a check weighing machine – day shift staff v night shift staff. If the performance levels are different, managers need to ask themselves, why?

Internet of things (IoT)
Internet of Things (IoT) is playing a huge part in creating the smart factory – industrial machines and other factory floor devices are able to communicate with each other and back office systems in an industrial setting over a shared internet network to automate processes in procurement, operations, production, quality and so much more.

ERP Scalability
Being able to easily scale a factory system is key to many factory owners and this is made easier through smart factory technologies and modern enterprise resource planning systems. Technology can be rolled out to mergers, acquisitions and takeovers by using existing factory ERP templates.

Connecting staff, machines, systems and data on the factory floor increases reliability, productivity, availability, performance and offers a cost reduction, therefore, smart factory software pays for itself very quickly. With an increased bottom line, higher productivity and resources freed-up, factory managers can invest where really needed and accelerate profitable growth.

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