Following the publication of our article, "How to build a Smart Factory," we've received many great questions and comments from readers.  

A quick recap: If your company is just starting the journey to building a fully digital, real-time integrated factory, there are a few simple, but high-impact initiatives that can form the basis of your roadmap, including: 

  • Stage 1: Converting existing data from equipment, devices, and workers into insights to drive the business through dashboards with compelling visualizations that identify opportunities for improvements;
  • Stage 2: Deploying more-advanced IoT (Internet of Things), predictive maintenance, and computer vision technologies to augment traditional measures; and
  • Stage 3: Integrating the human-machine interface and automating work with intelligent systems.

Based on initial questions and feedback, here are a few additional insights:

1. Not all companies start at stage 1: Many companies are already connecting data from equipment, devices, and workers to generate insights. These companies can directly start initiatives that allow them to move to stage 2

2. Avoid skipping stages: It is tempting to skip a stage (e.g., move from stage 1 to 3). However, the success ratio of such initiatives is very low. Unless your company is undertaking a major greenfield project (e.g., opening a new plant or warehouse), following the stage sequence is typically advisable. 

Please keep your comments coming!