The use of smart technology for industrial automation (industry 4.0) enables large-scale production improvements towards flexible manufacturing, informed decision making, and operational excellence. This means that the optimal smart manufacturing network will not only keep your factories running, but will make your discrete manufacturing business more competitive and profitable.
A future-ready network where IT and OT are fully connected and secured to the highest standards enables you to produce faster and cheaper than your competitors. Edge computing is the backbone of industrial improvements such as predictive maintenance, remote commissioning, collaborative automation, robots, and advanced analytics.
Industry 4.0 refers to the fourth industrial revolution and the global movement toward smart manufacturing. Industrial automation is a collective term that refers to the seamless integration of data exchange and production technologies.
According to scientific research, digitalization in production contributes positively to environmental sustainability by increasing resource and information efficiency. Applying industry 4.0 technologies throughout the product lifecycle results in a smaller eco-footprint, less harmful energy sources, materials, and chemicals, optimized energy efficiency, and reduced costs in production. That’s why digital industrial innovation is not just great for your company, it’s great for the planet!
The manufacturing industry has a rich history of technological evolution. It has embraced continuous change and deterioration over the last hundred years. The adoption of Industry 4.0 principles and smart manufacturing has evolved during the pandemic, where new technological innovations are accelerating and are being adopted by manufacturers, resulting in a transition to a new era of smart manufacturing that takes advantage of digital transformation.
Industry 4.0 is on the horizon and is already taking steps to prepare itself. According to a study by Oracle, 69% of organizations believe Industry 4.0 will have a significant impact on their business. Another 56% report a strong intention to invest in related technologies in all areas, including manufacturing (71%), R&D (44%), and logistics (33%).
The Three Phases of Industry 4.0
- Digital connection and sensors
In this first phase, the opportunities are; to increase productivity, quality, and efficiency, and better manage risk through integration and automation, IoT solutions, artificial intelligence, cloud, and advanced analytics.
- Digital engineering
Once the foundation has been laid, companies can begin to seek benefits further afield, using Industry 4.0 technologies to improve product designs and supply chains, develop smart products, and develop upstream and downstream ecosystems. All this fully digital engineering process can come into play, including increasingly smart automation, and blockchain-based smart contracts.
- Digital transactions
The final stage is when you’re fully digitized and need to use Industry 4.0 capabilities to drive further differentiation. Differentiation is not just about setting a company apart from its competitors, it can also develop whole new markets, services, and business models seen today in fields including bioinformatics, nanotechnology, and quantum technologies.
High-volume production part is a third area that deserves a stand-alone focus: maximum overall equipment effectiveness with fully automated production and flexibility to adapt to a particular product mix.
Which technologies are driving Industry 4.0?
- Internet of Things (IoT): The Internet of Things (IoT) is a key component of smart factories. Machines on the factory floor are equipped with sensors with an IP address that allows machines to connect to other web-enabled devices. This mechanization and connectivity make it possible to collect, analyze and exchange large volumes of valuable data.
- Cloud Computing: Cloud computing is the cornerstone of any Industry 4.0 strategy. The full realization of smart manufacturing requires connectivity and integration of engineering, supply chain, manufacturing, sales and distribution, and service. The cloud makes this possible.
- AI and machine learning: Artificial intelligence and machine learning allow manufacturing companies to take full advantage of the volume of information generated not only in the factory but across business units from third-party sources. AI and machine learning can generate insights that enable visibility, predictability, and automation of operations and business processes.
- Edge Computing: The demands of real-time production operations mean that some data analysis must be done “at the edge”, that is, where the data is generated. This minimizes latency from the time data is generated to when a response is required.
- Cyber security: Manufacturing companies have not always considered the importance of cybersecurity or cyber-physical systems. However, the same connectivity of factory or on-site (OT) operational equipment enabling more efficient production processes also opens new entry routes for malicious attacks and malware. As we undergo a digital transformation to Industry 4.0, it is critical to consider a cybersecurity approach that encompasses IT and OT equipment.
The advancement of technological aspects has undoubtedly helped to create an effective and efficient production system. The manufacturing sector has become more resilient with Industry 4.0, Technologies such as AI, IoT, and big data increase operational efficiency, minimize costs and increase overall productivity. Therefore, to enjoy the benefits you need to adapt to these technologies.
– Amrin Ahmed