Smart Factories FEATURE NEWS

Deloitte, WSU Put Smart Factory on Display

By Maurice Nagle August 10, 2021

Efficiency is a symptom of successful operations. For a factory environment, efficiency is paramount and through a group approach, the IoT is capable of delivering. In September 2020, Deloitte and Wichita State University (WSU) launched “The Smart Factory @ Wichita,” to drive the evolution of smart...and efficiency. 

“People have tried to gain efficiency in factories for a long time, that’s nothing new. The Smart Factory is vital,” explained Robert Schmid, Chief IoT Technologist, and Managing Director at Deloitte (also known as Mr. IoT) in a recent interview with IoT Evolution.

Schmid explained the dedicated building offers a true hands on experience of the Smart Factory, comparing and contrasting the old and the new as visitors explore eight use cases illustrating the impact of industry 4.0 with live examples.  Each visitor – child or adult – walks away with a product they can self-configure, and after the experience, the Deloitte team is there to assist with questions and additional insight.

There’s no debating the efficacy of PowerPoint versus real life experience, as Schmid continued to note there are usually a lot of ahhs and ohhs followed by the question, “How does this apply to me?” and eagerly he stated, “We love showing people something new; what this can mean for your business. Take away real ideas to start small, think big and scale fast.” 

Offering an example, Schmid highlighted a project making plastic cups, where the plan was to create an entirely new factory line to address demands of scale, “but we persuaded them to increase the capacity of the current line. We bring that to life for people.”

M2M has existed a long time, and it’s fair to say the shop floor was aware before today. Today, however Schmid noted, “The tech has become available to all kinds of different people. And the cloud is helping to gain access to ubiquitous networking.”

The copious amount of data collected is an opportunity. Schmid believes AI and ML as critical tools for enhancing the human workforce. AI helps us get smarter, but as he put it, “you need to feed the camera and teach the camera, what a fault on a piece of plastic like, pinpoint faults and give us insights.” Video analytics and modern processing power delivers network visibility and effect, from the most simple to more complex use cases.

Connectivity on the factory floor isn’t necessarily new, but this visibility piece certainly is. In the Smart Factory, this translates to better efficiency, less scrap, more throughput, less downtime, faster turnover. He continued, “AI is just a piece complimenting humans with insight.”

Schmid looks forward to advances on the factory floor to extend to other industries. “How can we improve manual processes?” Using vineyards as an example, the IoT is enabling a means to analyzing crops to a granular, per plant, level. As he noted, “cross-functional learning out of factories will be helpful.”

Innovation is painting a bustling future, backed by automation, analytics and AI. While this evolution won’t occur overnight, firms like Deloitte are doing due diligence to introduce the future today.

How smart is your factory?

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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