What to consider when building a smart factory?

Let’s perform a small test: does one or more of these claims sound familiar in your company’s operations? Or do they sound completely strange?

”We can adjust our production schedule on short notice to meet unexpected customer requests and changes in production.”

“We prepare in advance for issues and bottle necks in our production capacity to enable a seamlessly running production.

“We collect data about our processes, so we can make better decisions and constantly develop our ways of working and knowledge.”

If you answered mainly yes to these claims, you are already far on your journey to operational excellence – making the possibility of a smart factory closer as well. However, if these claims seemed strange, you should start your journey as soon as possible. Building a smart factory is most efficient when basic processes are in order.

What separates a smart factory from a normal factory?

On an upper level, a smart factory improves a factory’s efficiency through digital means. A smart factory concept utilizes digitalization, new technology and, in increasing amounts, a production software based on lean philosophy. Together, these bring significant improvements to productivity, quality, production flexibility and service ability. The main goal of a smart factory is to increase productivity and lower operational expenses by combining and focusing all the different sectors of the production process with each other.

The core technologies that make a smart factory possible:

How to get started?

The transition project to a smart factory starts by recognizing different sectors that have the largest development potential and best value generation. After this, building and scaling a smart factory can be begun at any level. In the scaling process, agile development can be utilized for iteration and fast value creation. Instead of fast profits, it can usually be more efficient to start small, test functionalities in a controlled environment and focus on learning. When more knowledge is gained, the solution can be scaled to new areas, such as production environments and factories, creating the potential and possibility for exponential value generation.

Transitioning to a smart factory is a vast project that requires horizontal and vertical control. This often requires comprehending many new knowledge areas. Many solutions can be found off-the-shelf, and advice and help are recommended to be acquired externally. At Fliq, we have created ready-made and easy solutions to be used in factories. Our solutions can be taken into use quickly and they also adjust to changing needs in the future. When smart factory -development projects does not require own resources or too much planning, one can focus solely on solving productivity issues. We are happy to assist you in any questions related to smart factories.

Where should you start?

According to a study made by Capgem, an average of one third of the companies interviewed had transitioned their factories to smart factories. Two thirds were considering it, or they already had plans for a smart factory. In the same study, over one third of organizations see developing factories and industrial systems as a better way to increase a factory’s productivity and performance instead of developing the productivity of workforce.

A smart factory does not always mean a completely automated factory. In most factories, there is still a lot of manual work where a human is an important part of the process, working with machinery and technology. The most important aspect to remember is the importance of data: the possibilities to utilize, refine and visualize it for development and controlling the factory. Each factory is an individual, which mean that the roadmap to succeeding in its goals must be composed around many things.

A smart factory development path is intertwined strongly with organization changes and organization culture changes. For example, these four key factors can be researched when evaluating the maturity of an organization’s operations:

Fliq’s agile and cost-efficient approach

At Fliq, we have developed an all-round Smart Factory platform consisting of different modules. With our platform, digitalizing a factory can be done in an agile and cost-efficient way. A system improving a factory’s productivity can be integrated in even just a few days – without years of groundwork, high fixed costs, and long contract periods. Thanks to the platform’s ready solutions, time and expenses are saved, and development resources can be focused immediately where they are most needed.

Automated workflow, synchronizing resources, better productivity monitoring and scheduling as well as optimizing resources increase productivity, usability and quality while decreasing the overall costs. Visualizing real-time data about processes makes it possible to make fast and independent decisions on the factory floor. Our tools make it possible to create role- and need-based views, real-time alarms, and notifications as well as real-time monitoring which helps employees work in a proactive manner.

The easiest way to start your smart factory journey is to choose Fliq’s Digital Lean service. The core of our service is the Digital Andon™ maintenance call service, the Digital Kaizen™ innovation tool, and Digital 5S™ audit tool. With these tools, the performance and development of the factory floor can be monitored in real-time. Data from implementing new innovations can be collected, analyzed, and controlled. Through all this, the fulfillment of a continuously safe and productive work environment can be ensured.

Digital Lean operates on our own Smart Factory platform which makes it possible to add new features and modules whenever needed. Shall we start your company’s journey to a more efficient smart factory together?



Capgemini Research Institute: Smart factories @ scale.

Deloitte University Press: The smart factory