The Main Differences Between Smart Factory, Smart Manufacturing, and Smart Industry and How They Improve Energy Efficiency for U.S. Manufacturers


The popularization of using smart as an adjective for technologically advanced items began with smartphones. Throughout the fourth industrial revolution, more commonly known as Industry 4.0., companies have added the adjective to most emerging technologies.

Smart factory, smart manufacturing, and smart industry are technology terms that are a part of Industry 4.0. These smart technologies have been instrumental in accelerating automation and data analysis to improve energy efficiency within U.S. industrial manufacturing plants.

How Smart Factory, Smart Manufacturing, and Smart Industry Differ and their Benefits

The terms smart factory, smart manufacturing, and smart industry are very similar, presenting confusion among some. Moreover, sometimes these terms are used interchangeably with Industry 4.0. While they are a subcategory of Industry 4.0, they all hold certain distinctions, representing facilities, processes, and industries.

The Meaning of Smart Factory and its Benefits

Smart factory technology offers flexible and efficient systems that utilize data to optimize the performance of facilities by self-adapting to changes and alerting any issues needing servicing. Smart factories operate onsite and can also connect to other systems.

The increasing costs of connecting new machines led to Industry 4.0. Industry 4.0 technologies include artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and robotics. These advancements enable facilities to collect manufacturing data in real time with greater comprehension. The data helps assess processes and resources to identify any pain points better.

The smart factory data can also run simulations predicting how facilities can expect products to be produced. These simulations are sometimes referred to as virtual factories, providing entire operational views of facilities to present interactive information for optimization.

The main benefit of investing in smart factory technology is that it gives facilities an upper hand by identifying any inefficiencies to drive improvements and increase productivity. Implementing smart factory technology actualizes connectivity, reduces waste, cuts costs, and delivers high-quality and fast production results.

The Meaning of Smart Manufacturing and its Benefits

Smart manufacturing is similar to smart factory in that both strategies are integrated with advanced technologies, utilizing sensors and data analytics. However, smart manufacturing focuses on technology that improves manufacturing processes.

Smart sensors are implemented to monitor the necessary parameters within manufacturing processes to ensure the highest quality of products. Real-time process control sensors make adjustments based on collected data to increase overall efficiency. Predictive maintenance sensors monitor equipment performance to detect potential issues that may need addressing.

Industrial edge computing and cloud computing are smart manufacturing technologies that optimize manufacturing processes. Industrial edge computing connects data processing and analysis to improve response times, efficiency, and productivity. The technology also increases data security by facilitating local data storage.

Cloud computing offers data storage and analytics along with remote management system capabilities. Manufacturing processes benefit from cloud computing as the technology can handle significant volumes of data and perform complex computations to provide real-time manufacturing insights.

The combination of smart sensors, industrial edge computing, and cloud computing provides greater production visibility for manufacturers to perform maintenance and allocate resources. The predictive analytics of smart manufacturing technology improves efficiency in transforming production processes digitally.

The Meaning of Smart Industry and its Benefits

Smart industry is not a radically different concept from smart factory or smart manufacturing, as it also pertains to integrating advanced technologies — just on a much larger scale. Smart industry goes beyond facilities and production processes, encompassing the entire industrial sector.

By using data analytics and AI, smart industry systems optimize supply chains, identifying possible trends and disruptions to ensure materials continue to be transported seamlessly. Better collaboration is another benefit of smart industry systems, allowing for improved communication between suppliers, distributors, and manufacturers.

Through smart industry data, the industrial sector can identify new opportunities for innovation to develop new processes, models, and systems. The industrial sector also harnesses smart industry systems to foster sustainability and reduce energy consumption and material waste.

How Smart Factory, Smart Manufacturing, and Smart Industry Improve Energy Efficiency for Industrial Manufacturers

Smart factory, smart manufacturing, and smart industry are forever changing the country with practical measures through innovative technology. As a result, the industrial sector is experiencing transformative energy-efficiency improvements.

One of the significant advantages that smart technology brings to manufacturers is operational equipment efficiency (OEE). OEE smart process control systems and smart equipment monitoring technologies enhance the lifespan of equipment, providing greater energy efficiency.

AI machine learning is another smart innovation leading to energy efficiency. The data from machine learning algorithms can actually predict and identify opportunities for reducing energy consumption, allowing manufacturers to outline energy-saving goals.

Government Initiatives and Funding for Smart Factory, Smart Manufacturing, and Smart Industry Technologies

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in collaboration with the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CESMII), is investing to facilitate the adoption of smart technologies. These technologies, including AI, machine learning, and robotics, aim to enhance integration and further automation. The goal is to enable manufacturers to monitor, evaluate, and improve their operations, leading to increased energy efficiency and reaching net zero emission status.

Contact APenergy Today

APenergy has 35 years of experience working with industrial manufacturers to identify areas of inefficiency and make data-driven decisions to reduce energy usage and costs. Utilizing smart factory, smart manufacturing, and smart industry technologies are ways customers can improve energy efficiency while increasing productivity.

APenergy can help companies incorporate smart technologies to set energy-saving goals, track progress, and achieve favorable ROIs. For more information, contact the APenergy team, the leading energy efficiency consultants, at 740-862-4112 or message us at