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Real-Time Location Intelligence Drives the Smart Factory

By Jeff Schmitz | 08/07/2018 | 6:39 AM

The on-demand economy and unprecedented customer expectations are fueling a shift toward the smart factory. In fact, our Manufacturing Vision Study found the number of fully-connected factories is expected to double by 2022, showing industry leaders are poised for significant progress over the next few years. While shifting to the smart factory model may be daunting to some, when you look at some of the technologies involved that can provide near-term ROI, it’s easy to see the path to growth. One example is location solutions.

When you don't know the location or condition of your most critical assets, it’s nearly impossible to maintain control over your operations. The only way to ensure quality, speed, efficiency and performance levels that meet today’s customer demands is to achieve 100 percent visibility within your factory and connect previously siloed operations. As the Internet of Things (IoT) impacts the evolution of the enterprise and fuels the connected factory, many manufacturers are looking to real-time location tracking for increased visibility into their business operations.

Location information drives operational intelligence in accelerating digital transformation. With a solid understanding of the exact location of assets, goods and people, manufacturers can determine if their operations are working as expected and make decisions based on real-time data to course-correct when things go wrong. By linking asset location, status and motion/flows, companies can increase control, minimize downtime and maximize performance.

Location solutions such as Zebra MotionWorks™ can automatically sense the location of assets and inventory, streamlining production lines and delivering actionable insights to increase productivity and efficiency. This facilitates the continuous flow of goods between transportation systems, distribution centers and manufacturing plants, ensuring the right tools arrive at the right work station at the right time. For an automotive manufacturer, location visibility translates into less on-hand inventory from local suppliers due to improved accuracy along with significantly reduced inventory-carrying costs and improved labor productivity.

In addition to streamlining workflows and boosting performance and efficiency, location solutions help ensure the safety of employees. On plant floors where workers are constantly surrounded by hazards, adopting solutions to reduce human error and keep the workforce safe is critical. With the added visibility that location solutions provide, plant floor managers can increase connectivity, enhance compliance processes and ensure work is handled according to safety requirements.

While helping protect the workforce, location solutions can also equip factory employees with accurate, real-time edge data. According to Zebra’s Intelligent Enterprise Index, 70 percent of companies already share information from their IoT solutions with their employees more than once a day. Interestingly, two-thirds of these companies share this data in real or near-real time.

Ultimately, location solutions and the intelligence provided by them empower front-line workers with a performance edge as they have the real-time guidance to execute tasks and make strategic business decisions to advance operations.

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The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.

About Jeff Schmitz

Jeff Schmitz

Jeff Schmitz is senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Zebra. Mr. Schmitz most recently served as executive vice president for multiple business units and sales at Spirent Communications where he had previously also held several senior leadership roles including chief marketing officer and vice president of networks & applications. Prior to joining Spirent, Mr. Schmitz held senior marketing positions at Rivulet Communications, Visual Networks and Tellabs Inc. Mr. Schmitz holds a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from Marquette University and a Master of Science degree in computer science from the Illinois Institute of Technology.



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