While profitability is still a top goal, in today’s industrial economy there’s an expanded definition of success; a ‘Triple Bottom Line’ which includes people and the planet as well as profitability.
Industrial companies find it hard to attract and retain new workers and are under pressure to address sustainability to address climate change. Today’s investors (who provide the capital needed for businesses to operate) also have broader expectations in terms of environmental and social responsibilities.
And now industrial enterprises must operate in the face of a new set of global and geopolitical challenges. A recent article in Forbes magazine reiterated this, stating “COVID-19 has shown the world…we need to shift to a more adaptable, agile solution that is fully digitally enabled.”
In other words, change is required. The good news is that our technologies today can help companies create smart factories, so the three factors of people, planet and profitability can be managed, and results optimized together, in real time.
How smart factories can benefit industry
Sharing our own manufacturing experience, we’ve implemented Smart Factory principles in many of our factories worldwide. Our philosophy has always been to share the things we’ve learned in our factories to help our customers’ implement smart factory principles in their own operations.
The ability to visualize, predict, and prevent failures in supply chain operations enables management to more easily plan and design resource allocation. Crucially, it also allows any supply disruptions to be monitored and adjusted in real time. When things are running normally, this not only creates greater efficiency, but it also presents a unique advantage when an emergency response is needed.
Schneider Electric currently have Smart Factories recognized as Advanced Manufacturing Lighthouses by The World Economic Forum. We’ve achieved the following results:
Le Vaudreuil, France (From aging Brownfield plant to Smart Factory)
- 5-15% overall equipment effectiveness improvement in 3-4 weeks on Contactor Line using EcoStruxure
- 30% reduction in cost of maintenance on critical equipment with predictive maintenance
- 15% reduction in energy consumption through power, automation and software
Batam, Indonesia (Easy to get started with non-intrusive software)
- 17% decrease in maintenance time
- 44% reduction in machine downtime
Thanks to real time monitoring and augmented reality
Take a more in depth look at another one of our Advanced Manufacturing Lighthouses here.
Our approach: think big, act small, scale fast
We find the following approach delivers the best results.
Thinking big refers to our strategic program driving the digital transformation of all our manufacturing operations, warehousing, and logistics operations.
Starting small means starting locally, with small budgets, doing what makes the most sense at each site.
Scaling fast describes our execution plan. We act small across a wide footprint allowing different regions and factories to test and pilot the value of different solutions. Once proven, these can then be rolled in other locations – we get more sites covered, wider deployment, and deeper expertise.
Smart factories: An initiative that works best when technology, people and process are harmonized
Empowering employees to make fast, informed decisions is key to improving productivity and operational efficiency. Across over 80 worldwide Schneider Electric Smart Factories and Distribution Centers, digitization and technology are unlocking new capabilities of processes and, more importantly, of people.
Finally, digitization is about more than just technology. Departments may need to find new ways of working together. This may mean factories may need to reskill their workforces to adapt to the smart factory approach
Ultimately this evolution will decrease the number of physically demanding or routine jobs and increase the number of jobs requiring flexible responses, productivity, problem solving and customization.
Want to know more about smart factories?
- Take a virtual tour of our advanced smart sites (smart factories and smart distribution centers) now.
- Learn more about smart factories.