The concept of the smart factory has been steadily evolving over the past few years as its moves towards the goal of providing harmonious communication between shop-floor devices and enterprise-wide management systems. Ultimately, the ambition is to ensure productivity and quality are maximised, from quotation and order, to manufacturing and dispatch. Such a transition also provides the perfect opportunity to address a sometimes overlooked aspect of smart factory operations: energy efficiency.
Europe has taken an early lead when it comes to implementing Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) or Industrie 4.0 as the Germans prefer to call it, with companies having invested in IoT technologies at higher levels than their US counterparts. The latest update to the Worldwide Semiannual Internet of Things Spending Guide from International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts total spending on IoT solutions in Europe to increase by 19.8% year on year to reach $171 billion in 2019. Of this, the share of discrete manufacturing is $20 billion, which can be attributed to IIoT.