The smart factory is an essential part of digitisation in the industry. Production plants, logistics systems and products should independently exchange information with each other so that the production environment is as self-organizing as possible.
For this purpose, the machines and products involved require a connection of the mechanical and electronic components with a software or information unit in order to participate in a network of data exchange.
Man is no longer a part of production, but controls and optimises the production processes.
This ensures that production and logistics are controlled in real time as required, resources are managed more efficiently, and production costs are reduced.
A smart factory requires some operational and technical prerequisites to enable the desired networking and real-time data exchange.
The main technological building blocks are fast broadband Internet, big-data applications and cloud computing, human-machine interfaces and cyber-physical systems.
Smart factory is already being used in sub-sectors in various industries – the most advanced of which is the automotive industry. Especially smart robotics, drones and smart watches (as human-factory interface) are already successfully used.
However, there are still some open questions and problems. These include legal issues as well as data protection, the use of standardised technologies, security concerns and system vulnerability.