Information surpassed materials as the catalyst for activity in manufacturing plants more than two decades ago, but the digital factory—where organizations digitally plan and project the entire lifecycle of products and facilities—has only recently become a reality. The breakthroughs that make the digital factory possible are:
- mass adoption of embedded sensors, which can pass information among machines, devices, products and software in real time;
- advances in wireless communication that move more data faster; and
- cloud computing, which removes the need to be on-site to access process data.
Digital voices are everywhere in a digital factory. In this brief, we’ll elaborate on the technology tools digital factories use for three common functions: asset management, production planning and materials replenishment.