Smart Factory of the Future

Pat McGrath June 17, 2015

smart_factory_quoteManufacturing’s Digital Transformation - is being touted as the 4th Industrial Revolution! Also termed the “Smart Factory”. The 4th Industrial Revolution will leverage new interconnected manufacturing systems, sensor technologies and extend the use of data from more sources.  Smart Factory manufacturing will be realized based on:

  • Connected Systems - communicating from the shop floor to the enterprise level
  • Big Data collected and analyzed holistically – supporting informed decisions and designs
  • Smart Products – imbedded sensors providing direction in the manufacturing process and beyond
  • Virtual sensors - program algorithms that collect data from physical sensors to predict possible events such as product failures
  • Virtualized Systems and Processes – allowing for real-time engineering modifications

All combined this will drive better results, new business opportunities and smarter products and services.

The concept is based on intelligence gained by data sharing and information access across the entire manufacturing product lifecycle. Products that are manufactured, monitored and tracked from the shop floor to the consumer and back. 

Products that, among other things, communicate to the manufacturing process with product intelligence providing insights for improvements, usage information, and alerts for maintenance/service scheduling. This digital transformation will include the collection of data and automate feedback - improving products and the consumer experience.

Take a look into the future! Check out the video on Smart Factory possibilities and opportunities:

The Smart Factory Consortiums

There are two named consortiums focused on realizing this digital transformation via the Smart Factory of the future. They are:

  • Industry 4.0 – Germany’s consortium seeks to create a framework for companies and university researchers to establish standards and best practices for Industrial Applications of the Internet.

o   Current German participants include: BASF and Siemens

o   Video link: -

  • In the US – the Industrial Internet Consortium, funded by monies earmarked by the Obama administration for a nationwide manufacturing initiative totals over $2.2B.

o   The U.S. participants include: GE,  AT&T, Cisco, Intel and IBM

o   A video highlighting the future:

o   An article on GE’s Brilliant Factory and use of technology

Smart Factory Components

There are 2 key components that will facilitate the vision of the Smart Factory:

Internet of Things (IoT) - Communications among networked systems allowing cooperation with each other and humans in real time

Big Data –Data generated and collected by many systems, products, sensors and users and used to perform Data Analytics based on the 6 Cs:

  • Connection (sensor and networks)
  • Cloud (computing and data on demand)
  • Cyber (model & memory)
  • Content/Context (meaning and correlation)
  • Community (sharing & collaboration)
  • Customization (personalization and value)

Cloud, Cyber-Physical Systems and Security

There are other elements that will enable Smart Factories, including:

Internet of Services

  • Cloud services utilized by participants of the manufacturing value chain

Cyber-Physical Systems 

  • Systems which monitor physical processes using sensor data and RFIDs providing views that support/create a virtual copy of the physical world enabling decentralized decisions and seamless engineering

Cyber Security

  • Need to secure the systems, components and data providing protection and resilience

Informed Manufacturing

Taking the alphabet soup of manufacturing systems (ERP, PLM, MES, SCADA, PLC, etc.); mapping the disparate processes of each system; capturing the data from these discrete systems; collecting data from smart products - are all significant to enabling Smart Factories.

The combination of the elements depicted in Figure 1, contribute to the advancement of intelligent manufacturing, like never seen before.


Mapping systems, processes and analyzing data provide the basis for redefining manufacturing.

Smart Manufacturing Benefits

There are significant benefits to be realized as outlined earlier. For an expanded list of potential benefits, see the Industry Week article - Making the Business Case for Smart Manufacturing at

B-WI Enterprise Consulting Solutions

We invite you to ‘collaborate’ with us – to define your vision, plans, execution, or pilot projects for your Smart Factory initiatives. We have an organization built and deployed to support your needs. Whether strategic or tactical we work with our clients to define, design and deploy the “best” solutions.

Now, more than ever, the keys to success are based on: people, process and technology. That is and always has been what we provide - the best solution to meet your goals.


If you would like to talk, please reach out to me or our team of consultants here at Barry-Wehmiller International. Contact me at . Wishing you success in all of your endeavors! ;-)

About B-WI: At Barry-Wehmiller International (B-WI) we are proud of our remarkable journey, a journey we began 20 years ago to become who we are today – a trusted, global, people-centric, ‘Total Solutions’ provider with a rich heritage in manufacturing. We take particular pride in our people-centric culture and values. 

We have built a strong foundation, we are here to lend a hand and be a guide to our customers with our specialized consulting, technology, engineering and manufacturing talent. We were there then, we are here now and we will be there with you into the future. Welcome to Barry-Wehmiller International.

About the Author: Patricia McGrath is pleased to represent Barry-Wehmiller International, as Director of me3Strategic Initiatives. B-WI provides consulting and services for manufacturing, engineering, ERP solutions, and specialized development and support services. Pat’s career includes positions with such prestigious companies as IBM and KPMG. While there she focused on strategy, ERP business partners and business consulting, plus having her own company working with others to develop both strategic initiatives and tactical plans.

Topics Competitive Advantage Business Transformation