IISc building a smart factory in Bengaluru, India

Armed with the Internet of Things (IoT) and data exchange in manufacturing, the factory is the future. Experts are calling it Industry 4.0. Reports peg the smart factory market to touch $215 billion by 2025, and there is no major economy in the world that is not embracing it. India’s first factory is making progress at the Centre for Product Design and Manufacturing (CPDM) of the Indian Institute of Science, with seed funding from Boeing.

CPMD chairman says “Yes, the factory will manufacture things here. But it will be a scaled-down version. We won’t have the numbers of an actual factory.” Refusing to divulge the details of Boeing funding, he said: “The aerospace company is giving us enough (funds) to implement this revolutionary project. Indian factories now have automation, and we’ve made progress there. We’re talking about a facility that is autonomous — thinking and working on its own.”

He explained what differentiates the smart factory from the rest. A factory has five key elements: machines, tools, people who operate them, parts that are manufactured and the environment where these activities take place. “In a smart factory, all these five elements exist. What’s more is the continuous activity of collecting data, analysing it and using it to attain the most optimal result from the factory.”

Data is collected from a variety of sensors on a variety of activities: The posture of a welder, the kind of energy used, the damage caused to the machine and its replacement cycle. The factory is self-aware, in a sense. It knows when a worker needs rest, when a machine needs repair or replacement, the humidity, temperature, everything. The data collected is analyzed before course correction is initiated. The network-enabled framework employed for manufacturing provides huge scope for autonomy. “The Internet of Things has enabled this. In another big leap, we’ve made headway in natural language processing,” he said.

He explained what differentiates the smart factory from the rest. A factory has five key elements: machines, tools, people who operate them, parts that are manufactured and the environment where these activities take place. “In a smart factory, all these five elements exist. What’s more is the continuous activity of collecting data, analysing it and using it to attain the most optimal result from the factory.”