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FREMONT, CA: Manufacturers of medical devices face a lot of challenges in their production field that other producers of complex devices and equipment face. For faster throughout and virtually error-free manufacturing, companies are investing on the latest factory automated systems and the technology of Factory of the Future.
Factory of the future is also referred to as Smart Manufacturing, Industry 4.0 (i4.0) or digital enterprise. Individual components of a machine are connected to a software that collects, transfers and processes data to understand equipment in need of preventive maintenance. Many manufacturers think that by simply increasing the automated manufacturing system and putting them on a factory-wide network will automatically result in an improved productivity and greater control of manufacturing processes. But the reality is that in order to get a desirable production through Factory of Future technology, manufacturers should assess several factors about their current production and manufacturing processes.
• The workstations augmented with i4.0 technology can be connected with smart-powered conveyor systems to make the production process cost-effective.
• Upgrading the legacy systems (already existing systems) is crucial to get the best result from i4.0 investment.
• i4.0 technology can be effective through good lean culture practices.
• Globalization of manufacturing by manufacturers combining manual and automated assembling in the existing high-cost location and newer lower-cost locations may lead to potential problems . i4.0 technology can provide a solution to this by using cloud-based sharing and analysis of production.
Strategies of applying i4.0 technology
The strategy for applying i4.0 technology should target industry areas like complex product mix, throughout requirements, quality standards and control and regulating response. In the medical field, i4.0 technology can solve complex production mixes. Many companies have widely changing product mixes that need the flexibility to make production changeovers as quickly and efficiently as possible. The production system can be automated or a mix of automated and manual assembly based on the device being assembled. I4.0 technology uses sensors in machines at workstations that can pinpoint where problems are occurring.
Many simple devices, like pneumatic control valves, use sensors into their design that can supply useful performance data from multiple points in a production line. However, this might not be enough to address broader productivity and throughput challenges. To maximise insight, manufacturers should consider implementing Internet of Things (IOT) gateways and edge computing devices that collect data from across the factory floor. This helps in connecting all production locations through cloud-based analytics for real-time assessment to improve throughput and product changeovers. This kind of factory of Future technologies can elevate the consistency and accuracy of manufacturing processes across the enterprise, especially if the companies have multiple generations of machines.
Examples of application of i4.0 technology
• Use of automated conveyor systems that use barcode readers keep an intellect flow of materials to workstations maximises production.
• Use of digital assembly guides in the manual workstations with information regarding parts built in the worker’s language of choice reduces errors in the assembling of machines. This also saves time in training new personnels.
• Kanban boards are systems that display production data using graphs and visualization, helping workers to understand how their production line is doing.
Standardizing these kinds of production tools in every manufacturing location, and then using IOT gateways to capture and process data from across a company’s global locations is a powerful way to enhance productivity in the medical device manufacturing industry. It is always best to work with knowledgeable suppliers who have a deep understanding in lean processes and principles for a successful implication of this technology. Only the right supplier has products for both automated and manual assembly. By working with These kinds of suppliers ensures quality controls, regulatory compliance and productivity across enterprises.
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