Industry 4.0: Changing Modern Manufacturing

The next generation of manufacturing is taking off.

If it seems like everything is going “smart” these days, that’s because that’s exactly what’s happening. Smart technology is spreading across our world, from the mobile device in your hand to your refrigerator and even to the manufacturing world. “Dumb” machines are being replaced with technology that will not only speed up the manufacturing process, but also ensure more accurate results and efficient reporting. It’s called Industry 4.0, and it’s considered the fourth industrial revolution.

This industrial revolution signals a digital transformation for the manufacturing industry, but what is it, exactly? Industry 4.0 is the trend of automation and the exchange of data in manufacturing technologies. It creates what is called a “smart factory” by utilizing the Internet of things, cloud and cognitive computing and cyber-physical systems.

It’s a move from embedded systems to cyber-physical systems that monitor the physical processes of the factory and utilize the Internet of things to communicate within the electronic framework of the factory and with human operators in real time via a wireless network. It connects the industry’s data with its people, machines and processes to affect the systems in place and leverages actionable information to improve the overall function and productivity of a factory.

A true Industry 4.0 factory will be interoperable, meaning its machines and people connect and communicate with each other. Systems will create contextualized data with a virtual copy of the physical world and will support humans in making decisions or problem solving while performing tasks that are either unsafe or too difficult for workers. The cyber-physical systems will also have the ability to be as autonomous as possible and make simple decisions on their own.

These nine industrial technologies make up Industry 4.0:

  • advanced robotics,
  • additive manufacturing (3D printing),
  • augmented reality (for maintenance and logistics),
  • simulation (which allows factories to optimize based on real-time data from intelligent systems),
  • horizontal / vertical integration (the integration of cross-company data based on data transfer standards),
  • industrial internet,
  • the cloud (managing huge amounts of data with real-time communication),
  • increased cybersecurity for networks and machines
  • and Big Data and analytics (to support real-time decision making and machine optimization).

There are a number of benefits associated with converting to the Industry 4.0 model. Manufacturers will be able to gather more information via accurate, real-time data which can drive manufacturing practices and improve productivity. Increased process effectiveness will include smarter energy consumption, expanded information storage capacity and optimized yields. It will also improve the health and safety of workers while providing a more easily controlled supply chain. All of this adds up to increased revenues, market share and profits.
 
The added reliability and overall cost savings of Industry 4.0 makes it a smart move for industrial applications. That’s not to say there’s not an upfront investment involved in implementing Industry 4.0, but as current systems age, replacing them with Industry 4.0 capable systems just makes sense.

As global manufacturing moves closer to adopting Industry 4.0, it’s important for manufacturers to begin looking into how this digital revolution will impact their organization and make plans now to start implementing Industry 4.0 standards. Like many other industries, smart technology is the future of manufacturing and it’s not a matter of if the industry as a whole will adopt it, but rather when.

If you’d like more information about making the switch to Industry 4.0 or if you want to get started on the smart industrial revolution, Spud Software is here to help. Contact us to learn more about how we can help your manufacturing business take a step into the future.