Smart factories can efficiently run more independently than their counterparts through advanced digital and automated technologies. These factories operate at increased speed and productivity, and can be monitored and operated remotely. According to Deloitte, smart factories help businesses achieve a 20% improved asset efficiency, 30% improved product quality, 30% reduced costs, and 10% improvement in safety and sustainability.
“It’s a highly responsive, adaptive, and connected system,” states the company on its website. “A smart factory can self-optimize performance across a broader network, self-adapt to and learn from new conditions in real- or near-real time, and autonomously run entire production processes. By undertaking a smart factory manufacturing initiative, businesses often see numerous benefits.”
However, smart factories are difficult to achieve using current technology. Overly complex communication networks are hard to remotely control over long distances, often resulting in lengthy delays and lost data. To work, these factories depend on networks capable of handling high volumes of data at minimal delay (latency). While such networks currently do not exist, new research suggests they are possible.
Research Team Achieves Real-Time Remote Control of Smart Factory Abroad
The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) recently announced that it successfully demonstrated, for the first time ever, a new remote manufacturing diversification service capable of independently controlling a factory at home and abroad, TechXplore reported.
Using this unique Industrial Internet of Things service, the team was able to simultaneously monitor and control a smart factory in South Korea from the University of Oulu in Finland seamlessly and in real-time. From the Finnish control center, which contained a 5G test network, they demonstrated that it is possible to 1) remotely control and monitor the status of mobile manufacturing robots; 2) remotely control the manufacturing process using virtual-reality equipment; and 3) monitor the remote manufacturing process through collecting wireless sensor data based on the narrowband Internet of Things.
The tests successfully demonstrated real-time remote control and monitoring service with a two-way delay of under 0.01 seconds in South Korea and under 0.3 seconds in Finland.
Not only do these findings indicate that remotely controlled smart factories with reliable communication over long distances are possible, but that it may soon be possible to overcome many of the issues currently plaguing today’s supply chains, such as delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As it became possible to remotely control smart factories even from abroad as well as in Korea, we now can meet the demand for non-face-to-face activities in the industry caused by the COVID-19 pandemics. Therefore, it is expected to revitalize the stagnant industry,” Il-gyu Kim, head of the Mobile Communications Research Division of ETRI, told Tech Xplore.
The team plans to build on their research with assessments that examine connectivity and mobility, expand the technology with hyperspatial services, and develop future factories that use 6G through continued cooperation with the 6G flagship program conducted by the University of Oulu.
Given these advances, smart factories could soon be a reality. Is your organization prepared to adopt this complex technology?
Learn More About Smart Factories
Smart factories are expected to exponentially reduce the time to market and production. Learn more about this technology through Practical Applications of Virtual and Augmented Reality in Business and Society: Smart Factories, a newly released online course from IEEE.
National Research Council of Science & Technology. (10 June 2022). Industrial Internet of Things: Real-time remote control of smart factory between Korea and Finland. Tech Xplore.
Smart Factory for Smart Manufacturing. Deloitte.