The world underwent a massive technological change with the discovery of solid state technology. The 1960s & ’70s saw a major technological upheave, which later on came to be known as the 3rd Industrial Revolution. Through the application of electronics and use of computer technology, conventional assembly lines were given the first stint of automation.
Fast forward to the 21st century, and the world had transformed into a global village, with all the credit going to one entity, i.e. Internet. This very entity is the majority contributor & motivator behind the modern industrial revolution, Industry 4.0.
Industry 4.0 involves a series of groundbreaking innovations in production and leaps the industrial processes towards higher productivity. It shifts the handling of all production processes to a chain of autonomous devices, interlinked with each other along the entire value chain.
Here’s a better way to look at it. Imagine a model of a “smart factory”, where all physical processes from maintaining heat to checking assembly lines are monitored by an array of sensors. These sensors, in turn, are connected to computer units that monitor & control their output based on the sensory inputs. Furthermore, the bulk of all this data is fed into a business-centric computer system that receives inputs regarding customers’ requirement & market conditions.
Finally, a decision is taken by the Control System to scale up/down manufacturing based on real-world parameters in real-time.
The major features of Industry 4.0 can be summed up as:
- Interoperability: Cyber-physical systems allow the use of multi-platform hardware/software.
- Virtualization: Control programs are able to simulate manufacturers’ requirements based on real-world data.
- Decentralization: Ability of control systems to work independently.
- Real-time capability: Removes the uncertainty factors within the supply-chain.
- Modularity: Industry 4.0 flexibility allows for quick customization & upgrades.
Industry 4.0 isn’t waiting to be implemented, rather it has already started gaining acceptance in several industries. The following companies have already changed their course to suit the canons of Industry 4.0:
- Bosch Rexroth, a German Engineering Firm that develops mobile applications, machinery applications and factory automation services
- Siemens, a well-known name in the world of industrial automation, Siemens has begun to integrate its solutions in a more streamlined manner in line with Industry 4.0
- SAP, an Enterprise Software company that has started a collaboration with various clients on producing implementable Industry 4.0 models
Other companies like Wittenstein, General Electric, Festo, Rockwell Automation, etc. are also in line and are gradually leading the Industrial Revolution.
But how does implementing Industry 4.0 and its associated concepts affect you and your plant?
In addition to monitoring your machines & equipment, Industry 4.0 solutions will safely control these systems and intelligently predict upcoming faults based on the measurements taken. The deep interconnectivity of each unit will ensure that its tracking & assignment is carried out automatically, irrespective of the complex user requirements.
Industry 4.0 will greatly increase the productivity of any manufacturing division. Through meticulous use of resources, control systems would be able to perform a wide variety of tasks in the most efficient manner possible. Not only will wastage of raw materials and energy be curtailed, but the productivity will increase as well as each product will have precision & refinement.
Shorten Time to Market
No matter how efficiently or accurately a product is made, it’s worthless without considering the actual market requirements. An Industry 4.0 solution would encompass the entire lifecycle, from production to consumption, so that manufacturers get real-time requirements regarding the market.
Products can be manufactured based on user requirements, and not on a single design, all the while maintaining the economic efficiency of the plant. Minimum manual interaction would result in maximum plant efficiency, resulting in greater profits, a diverse market share, and tougher competition.
While “Industry 4.0 – The Next Industrial Revolution”, may seem like a thing of the future for most companies, manufacturers (big or small) don’t have to wait for implementation of new equipment to start seeing positive results. At FreePoint Technologies, our simple and noninvasive machine monitoring software connects with each of your current machines; regardless of brand, type, complexity or age. Going beyond the machine, we also focus on engaging and empowering your employees, equipping them with real-time data to see tangible progress, and allowing them to make informed decisions.