Industrial enterprises around the world are retooling their factories with advanced technologies to boost manufacturing flexibility and speed, achieving new levels of overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), supply chain responsiveness, and customer satisfaction in the process. This renaissance reflects very real pressures industry players face today. For years, traditional factories have been operating at a disadvantage, impeded by production environments that are “disconnected”—at the very least strictly gated—to corporate business systems, to supply chains, and to customers and partners.
Managers of these traditional factories say the feeling is akin to flying blind. These are operations where plant floors, front offices, and suppliers operate in independent silos, where managers have only hazy visibility into downtime and quality problems, and where the root causes of inefficiencies are rarely understood or addressed.
To get ahead, modern manufacturers are adopting new plant architectures that enable a portfolio of enhanced and new capabilities. These include plant network topologies that converge factory-based operational technologies (OT) with global IT networks, increasing visibility and intelligence within operations and across the global supply chain.
This is what we call the connected factory. Advantages include:
• Production Flexibility. Factories retool quickly to meet demand and cut down on costly downtime (Fact: more flexible factories can reduce inventory cost by 50%.)
• Global Visibility. Executives and operators respond intelligently and instantly to changing conditions on the plant floor—and in the marketplace—to increase efficiency and save money (Fact: manufacturers lose 5% of production and 33% of profits per year from downtime.)