Whether you’re looking for the best candidates in advanced and additive manufacturing or looking for your next role – Alexander Daniels Global can help. In this article, we’ll explain what smart factories are along with the roles within them and how we can help you to recruit for your team.

What are Smart Factories?

Smart factories are, put simply, factories integrated with the various smart technologies that are characteristics of Industry 4.0, such as;

This allows all parts of the manufacturing process to continuously collect and share data, which is further used to improve processes and products.

how do Smart Factories work?

Smart factories work by gathering and analyzing data in a way that improves the efficiency of the manufacturing process which can be broken down into four stages;

  1. Data Gathering: The Internet of Things (IoT), is used to collect data on different production methods, performance and material usage in real-time. This could be through a network of sensors or monitoring equipment.   
  2. Data Analysis: After the data is collected it is analyzed through technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence. The software looks for patterns and can make accurate predictions on metrics such as how much material is needed or when maintenance on equipment needs to be carried out.   
  3. Data Activation: Machine learning can be used to make recommendations to improve processes and increase efficiency in real-time.
  4. Continuous improvement: These insights continue to be monitored to measure the impact of any changes to production that have been implemented and track progress over time.

How is IoT Implemented in Smart Factories?

For a deeper understanding of how a smart factory works, we can look at BMW Plant, Dingolfing. In a traditional factory, workers will keep track of how many vehicles are made, and what parts are running low. Then they will need to manually order parts to the correct specification when needed.

The BMW Plant in Dingolfing, uses technology such as IoT to collect data across production processes. The smart factory process of data gathering, analysis, activation, and improvement ensures that all vehicles are made to the right specification and are of the highest quality. The factory also uses the IoT to monitor its use of water in production and other sustainability initiatives to reduce waste.     

BMW Group Plant Dingolfing’s Assembly wins “Automotive Lean Production Award” (source: BMW Group Press Release)

Benefits of Smart Factories

Smart factories have harnessed intelligent technology to make manufacturing more efficient and productive. By increasing efficiency and productivity manufacturers using smart factories are more competitive and have an increased level of flexibility. Some of the other benefits include;

  • Additional Safety: Automated safety processes can reduce risks of workplace accidents. In a traditional factory setting workers could be exposed to hazards when completing manual maintenance tasks. In a smart factory, some tasks can be automated which reduces risk. Real-time monitoring and machine learning can alert workers to any safety risks that could arise during production or maintenance.
  • Reduced downtime: Reduced downtime can make the manufacturing process more efficient. In smart factories predictive maintenance uses data to predict when machine parts wear out, or when a machine is likely to break down. This means that maintenance can be scheduled to prevent prolonged downtime.
  • Improved quality: Smart factories use real-time monitoring and process controls to improve quality. In a traditional factory, often quality control is a manual process which is time-consuming and sometimes can fall short due to human error. In a smart factory, digital technologies such as sensors and machine learning can be used to identify any issues with the quality of products and make adjustments to correct any issues.
  • Advanced prototyping: Advanced prototyping and digital twinning can be used in smart factories to develop products faster and decrease the time to develop products from conception to market. In industries like additive manufacturing, this technology can be used to test new products quickly.
  • Improved data management: Smart factories collect and manage and analyze data in real-time through technologies like the internet of things. This allows businesses to take a centralized view of all the data and provides insight into how to improve processes.
  • Improved sustainability: Due to data monitoring and streamlined processes made available through technology 4.0, production is much more efficient, reducing energy consumption and waste during production.

What roles are needed to run a successful smart factory?

Along with industry-specific roles in smart factories, there is a wide range of roles needed to develop and implement smart factories and smart processes. Some of these roles include:

  • IT professionals: IT professionals are needed to maintain IT systems and manage data systems.
  • Manufacturing engineers: Manufacturing engineers are needed to optimize the production process.
  • Automation engineers: Automation engineers are needed to design and maintain automated systems.
  • Logistics specialists: Logistics specialists are needed to manage the level of materials needed in production along with the distribution of finished products.
  • Cyber security specialists: Cyber security specialists are needed to ensure that the data collected and analyzed stays secure.
  • Project manager: Project managers are essential to make sure the whole process runs efficiently, on time and on budget.

How can Alexander Daniels Global help?

Here at Alexander Daniels Global, we conduct direct sourcing through targeted headhunting to access inactive candidates, alongside our database and extensive network of active candidates. To put it simply, your additive and advanced recruitment needs can be seamlessly handled by our specialist team – putting the right candidates in front of you when you need them most.

Alternatively, if you’re working in the additive or advanced manufacturing industry, browse our career portal to apply for our varied open job vacancies.

For more information about how we can help, contact our team of expert recruiters today. We also have a wealth of HR resources, such as our global annual salary survey report, to help you stay on top of hiring trends.

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