The factory of the future is set to take advantage of several developing technological fields, such as machine learning, data processing, cloud computing, automation, the internet of things (IoT) and robotics.
Each of these converging areas presents different integration, safety and security challenges, but manufacturers can use standards to help navigate the path towards efficient and reliable digital production to overcome some of these challenges.
Adoption of enabling technologies
Firstly, every manufacturer will vary in terms of how readily it can adopt these enabling technologies. PAS 1040 sets out a practical guide for the manufacturing industry to aid digital technology adoption, such as artificial intelligence, robotics and IoT. It helps companies benchmark their own digital readiness and define areas for attention.
The future factory will also need to embrace a high degree of functional safety – ensuring that safety systems and equipment perform predictably and correctly in response to likely user input changes.
BS EN 61511 provides a functional safety framework and application programming requirements for instrumented systems within the process industry sector.
Further to BS EN 61511, PD IEC TR 63074 provides guidance around security threats and vulnerabilities that could negatively influence the functional safety intended by specific safety-related control systems for machinery. PD IEC TR 63069 also outlines a framework for functional safety and cybersecurity for industrial-process measurement, control and automation.
Robotics and artificial intelligence (AI)
Robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) feature prominently in today’s leading-edge manufacturing processes. Companies can maintain safe robotic production operations using BS EN ISO 10218-1, which outlines design and safety requirements for industrial robots. It describes related hazards and provides requirements to mitigate these risks.
Along with cloud computing, the role of internet-connected sensors has become vital in almost every future factory scenario. Constantly monitoring operations, conditions, quality and efficiency while sharing information with other devices and equipment they are intrinsic to what makes a factory ‘smart’.
PAS 7040 provides important guidelines for the trustworthiness and precision of networked sensors used in digital manufacturing. It examines security and cybersecurity issues that may impact sensor trustworthiness, including data transmission over a network.
Manufacturers can also make use of the BS EN IEC 62443 series of standards which provide security requirements for industrial automation and control systems.
From a more general data and cybersecurity perspective, manufacturers can create their own information security management system using ISO/IEC 27001, the internationally recognized information security management standard.
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Keeping to with technological advances
Finally, standards development is also active in this area to keep up with technological advances. IEC Technical Committee 65 (IEC TC 65) is tasked with preparing international standards for used for industrial process measurement, control and automation systems, while ISO Technical Committee 299 (ISO/TC 184) is working on several industrial robotics standards. ISO/TC 184 develops standardization for automation systems and their integration.
We spoke to Steven Carter, Digital Manufacturing Integration Lead – SMART Factories (Cyber-Physical Systems), Rolls-Royce PLC, about the role of standards in the factory of the future:
"The future factory will be much like today’s factory, with manufacturers using automation, advanced cybersecurity, mechatronics, and robotics. Machine learning and artificial intelligence dependent IT infrastructure will be increasingly common, alongside blockchain-based advances. All will aid process, factory or supply chain automation. The challenge is to ensure it all works together in harmony as one true cyber-physical system or ‘systems of systems’, with true data interoperability."
"Safety is crucial when it comes to integrated autonomous technologies, whether for a specific manufacturing process, or on a wider operational basis (and beyond – for example self-driving vehicles). Standards will play a vital role in the factory of the future, and there is ongoing development work to keep in step with technological innovation."
"For long-term success, all industrial sectors must embrace and support standards development and use – from a safety, quality and system interoperability perspective. A standards-based approach helps teams work collaboratively, share best practice, respond quickly to problems, and push the boundary of what is possible."
What does the future of the factory look like? Read BSI’s beyond compliance report and access the future factory infographic and the standards that can help at each stage of Electrotechnical Manufacturing.