A smart factory is a manufacturing facility or production plant that utilizes data-driven technology to optimize and automate processes. This is accomplished through an intelligent network of interconnectivity. The smart factory concept is derived through what’s known as the “Internet of Things” or IoT.


In a smart factory, machinery and processes are managed digitally. This amounts to a goods production process that is mostly or completely automated. Since factory systems are digitally connected, multiple facilities can work together to automatically and rapidly respond to changing production requirements, maintenance needs, and other factors that might otherwise cause significant production slowdowns.

Since all parts of production can be interconnected, a smart factory can run based on constant feedback and analysis. This enables machines to achieve exceptional efficiency through machine learning and self-adaptation. It also gives operators the ability to catch and address issues before they happen.

What Is Smart Manufacturing?

Smart manufacturing is an approach to goods production that uses various automated technologies to manage and improve operations.

The equipment and processes used in smart manufacturing will vary based on the type of facility and products being produced, but in most cases, machinery is connected to a digital network so that data can constantly be exchanged. This interconnection enables manufacturers to rapidly adjust and adapt according to changes in production needs.

BMW plant in Leipzig, Germany: Spot welding of BMW 3 series car bodies with KUKA industrial robots. Credit: BMW Werk Leipzig

Smart manufacturing also utilizes systems that reduce as much hands-on labor as possible. It allows for remote and automated management of operations. Because there is constant feedback and analysis of all connected equipment, unforeseen issues can be avoided and production can be more responsive.

Smart Manufacturing Technologies

Smart manufacturing technologies are at the center of a concept that’s known as Industry 4.0, also called the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

These technologies include a variety of different automated equipment, digital networks, and computer controls that are designed to work together and with minimal human intervention.

Smart manufacturing technology utilizes a lot of artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities. With this technology, manufacturing systems can automatically respond and adjust based on a constant stream of digital feedback.

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