FREMONT, CA: Medical device manufacturers face similar challenges that other producers of the critical devices and equipment face. It includes controlling costs, maintaining tight inventories, and well-coordinated global supply chains. It sustains flexibility in their production operations so they can change product mix and introduce new products as market requirements vary and new opportunities arise.
The Factory of the Future is a flexible, intelligent, and highly agile production ecosystem that consists of plant operations and management with real-time, in-depth data they need to enhance the value and performance of every machine and the production unit.
Everything is linked in the Factory of the Future, Industry 4.0. The networks link the individual machine components with the connected sensors and intelligence up through the machine-level and plant-level communications architectures to a cloud-based system. Sophisticated software gathers, transfers, and processes the data in ways to proffers both production transparency and actionable answers to the questionnaire about the production bottlenecks and tools in need of preventive maintenance.
The potential benefits of applying the kind of technology to the challenges medical manufacturers face can be very significant if the technology is used in an organized and intelligent way. Too often, manufacturers will be convinced that merely increasing the use of automated manufacturing systems and putting them on a factory-wide network will automatically result in improved productivity and greater control of manufacturing processes.
Factory of the Future technology provides a powerful device for equipment manufacturers globalizing the supply chains and production operations. There can be risks associated with moving some production operations to lowercost countries if quality controls and assembly processes are not sufficiently established and standardized.
One way to ensure success is to work with knowledgeable suppliers whose technology is fully aligned with the Factory of the Future concepts. It comprises having a deep understanding of lean processes and principles and an understanding of how to use technology within a lean operation to maximize the outcomes of continuous improvement processes.