Manufacturing has traditionally been viewed as a process that converts raw materials into physical products with a utility. Today, the production phase is only a small part of a much broader value chain that is increasingly interconnected, leading to "connected factories" and their "new business models".
The "Connected Factory" represents the vision of a digitized advanced manufacturing ecosystem where machine-to-machine communication is ubiquitous throughout the plant and with remote locations. The purpose of the connected factory is to connect, control, and monitor just about anything to enhance productivity and profitability for the factory itself and its customers.
Connecting the complete value chain from raw material to product exploitation phase of the end-customer and evolving towards a circular model is what the "connected factory" allows.
A connected factory generates "new business models" based on services that allow manufacturers to diversify their business based on their same products.
Big changes come from the introduction of the latest trends in the manufacturing industry, such as
- Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
- Cloud Computing
- Big Data
- Real Time Evaluation and Analysis
and new technologies like
- Additive manufacturing (3D printing)
- Advanced robotics
- Digital design
- Smart and connected products.
These global manufacturing trends and technologies are altering the industry and leading to the so-called "Industry 4.0", also known as the "Fourth Industrial Revolution", which transversely brings the following main benefits:
Cost reduction and efficiency improvement.
Diversification of the business model that improves profitability.
Today the connected factory model is a competitive advantage, tomorrow it will be an inherent quality of the manufacturer's business model.