Connecting your production line to the future: step three – the smart factory

In the previous blog of this series, we explored the opportunities the internet of things (IoT) offers manufacturers. In this third and final blog of the series, we will discuss the smart factory.

What is the smart factory?

The smart factory is a highly digitised manufacturing enterprise that leverages connected systems which maximise data utilisation for unprecedented productivity and continual optimisation.

Central to the smart factory are connected industry 4.0 solutions that enhance data transparency, collaboration, flexibility and agility. This includes IoT platforms, sensors, cyber-physical systems, robotics, and cloud-based data handling.

These factors will help drive automation, unprecedented levels of customisation, and more responsive, smart decision-making and predictive control.

A smart factory is not necessarily confined within the walls of a single plant. The smart factory concept can facilitate the interconnectivity of multiple sites globally.

By deploying structured real-time data and big data analytics, smart factories more readily detect trends, causes of issues, and support correctional actions. As a consequence, being fast to market – or first to market – with the highest levels of quality possible is what a true smart factory delivers.

Hexagon offers a toolset that enables you to do this by removing siloes from the manufacturing stages – from product development to first prototype builds, to production, and end of product life. In doing so, it improves your time-to-market and product quality.

Developing a smart factory

One challenge facing the move towards smart factories is mindset. In order to achieve a successful smart factory, it is necessary to break down the siloes within your factory and integrate all parts of the product life cycle.

For example, quality should be recognised as the goal throughout all processes from concept to completion, not simply as a final ‘quality check’. With an holistic mindset and digitisation of the process you are one step closer to achieving a smart factory.

Ultimately, manufacturers need to think big, start small, and scale fast.

Learn more about how Hexagon is driving the manufacturing journey toward the smart factory in this video.


  • Becky Francis

    Becky Francis is a Technical Writer and Project Manager at Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence. She develops technical content for the PC-DMIS Newsletter and organises its delivery globally. Becky has a background in scientific research in the marine renewable energy industry. She also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Ocean Science and a Master of Research degree in Marine Renewable Energy.

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