When phones, TVs, watches and even cities are getting smart, factories too should not be far behind. Gone are the days when factories are imagined to be a large edifice with a loud rumble of machines and a towering column billowing out smoke. The future is promising with the state-of-the-art facilities, working at an efficiency formerly unknown. With the advent of smart factories, the environment being spared of pollution is breathing a huge sigh of relief.
Delving deeper into this welcome change we face a few questions: How did we make the leap towards smart factories? Was it an abrupt shift?
Certainly, the shift did not come as a bolt from the blue. It was the culmination of years of research and work from industry leaders such as Grundfos that led to a smarter today.
In an industrial setting, pumps never work in isolation and are always a part of a larger system. Grundfos has invested heavily in the R&D of its products. It was seven decades ago when they came up with their first pump, solely built for the purpose of moving liquid from point A to point B. Further developing on the technology, they introduced the E-Solution pumps, whose integrated controls enabled the pumps to adapt to changing demands.
This helped further smoothen the pumps and make them more energy efficient. Fast forward to 2007, Grundfos pumps was the first company to couple IOT technology with their pumps, leading to what is now called Grundfos iSolutions. Years of R&D and expertise in the pump industry, the iSolution greatly improved on several aspects. Focusing on intelligent communication between components like the drives, measurement and control systems, the Grundfos iSolution pumps have enabled the end-users to enjoy benefits like user-friendliness, great savings and extended customisation. It is the constant innovation by companies such as these that drive the move towards smarter factories.
Another aspect of smart factories is about how clean they are in terms of energy efficiency and anti-pollution measures. At this point in time, the capability of an industry to balance its environmental and business interests is crucial. A green factory not only entails a sustainable way of production, but it starts at how the facility is built (ie. the materials used). Also, it must take into account the energy consumed by the secondary processes of the factory. For example, temperature control is an important system in a factory, but that does require the temperature control system to function round the clock as the load varies at different times. Using an intelligent solution like the Grundfos iSolution Temperature Control system ensures full control of temperatures with fewer components and a complete overview of the system's performance.
Factories must also take into account the method by which waste is disposed of. Having a sustainable production process but being unable to safely discard the effluents would still have a hazardous effect on the local ecosystem. One of the key elements in this process is the precise pump regulation and with an intelligent solution from Grundfos, giving users access to a wide range of control features as well as full integration with the overall process control, nothing is left to chance.
Finally, addressing a popular myth that states that smart factories are completely restricted to advanced technology, it needs to be stated that a factory can be deemed smart without the latter. Consider a simple situation where machine 'A' that is being utilised in a factory produces excess heat. That energy could be used to accomplish another task that requires heat. A facility can take a myriad of approaches such as these to use the existing resources at hand to serve an alternative purpose.
Incorporating unconventional methods towards maintaining a balance between business and ecological impact will ensure that the factory remains truly smart. In conclusion, we derive that the shift towards the adoption of smart factories was a result of the painstaking development of technology in different areas that make up a factory. The unrelenting effort by industry leaders in their respective fields have given us what we now call smart factories.