What is the Factory of the Future for process manufacturing?

The definition of the Factory of the Future is evolving; even the name is in flux. Some call it Smart Manufacturing, Industry 4.0, or the Digital Enterprise. While the terms may vary, there’s one thing that is clear: The Factory of the Future is the product of fast-changing disruptive technologies hitting process manufacturing like a cyclone. Information technology and operational technology are both seeing drastic innovations, and the convergence of these two forces is creating a paradigm shift. For food and beverage and chemicals and life sciences companies, a fourth industrial revolution is starting now.

Many analysts predict that the stagnation and slow recovery that followed the Great Recession will evolve into a period of expansion for process manufacturers. Although margins will likely remain compressed, tools for greater savings and improved capabilities will make it easier for process manufacturers to achieve profits and growth.

The impact of these technologies and the Factory of the Future is growing. Consider these statistics:

Industry Week reports that 40% of manufacturers believe that smart manufacturing and its foundational technology—the Internet of Things—are within reach and it’s the right time to invest.

Huffington Post reports that early adopters of modern solutions that have at least partially implemented smart manufacturing initiatives have documented measurable results:

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