As Industry 4.0, the next industrial revolution, is currently in its infancy, some industries have embraced the 4.0 concepts while most industries are still getting started.
Historically, we find that each revolution resulted in huge productivity gains driving down product costs and increasing demand for most product groups. The 1st revolution started with the invention of the steam engine in the late 1700’s which increased productivity by replacing manual operations and animals with machines. In the 1800’s, the 2nd industrial revolution enabled manufacturers to produce large quantities of products using assembly lines, divisions of labor, and standardization to increase productivity. The 1970’s brought the 3rd revolution with the microprocessor and the computer which helped manufacturers automate repetitive labor using robotics, pick and place equipment, and systems control to replace labor on a large scale.
Now that the 4th industrial revolution is upon us, what does Industry 4.0 mean to you as a manufacturer? What are the benefits of Industry 4.0 and how will your customers require you to implement it? Will your company embrace the Internet of Things (IoT) and other technologies to become the “Smart Factory” of the future?
If Industry 4.0 sounds expensive and possibly overwhelming, here are 4 reasons you need to consider Industry 4.0 as an investment in systems, hardware and training.
Do you have good visibility of your products within your plant? Improving visibility can help reduce your cycle times, save money on carrying costs, and lay the groundwork for tracking your products. Process visibility enables you to visually see the products as they are developed into final products to help ensure that they are being produced correctly. This could lead to redesigning processes to be more flexible, right sized, and efficient.
Industry 4.0 involves integrating people, product, and machines to control processes and expand flexibility. The manufactured product, environmental variables, and machine variables are tracked, measured, analyzed, and controlled throughout the manufacturing process using smart devices or sensors. Are you using error proofing techniques or IoT to build your products correctly? It is usually less expensive to either prevent or correct an error immediately rather than reworking or scrapping the product later.
Do you use controllers that adjust your processes based on input variables? Knowing what affect variables have on the quality of your product may enable you to make real time adjustments to improve quality. Data from sensors can detect, troubleshoot problems and fix errors as they occur. The development of low-cost hardware, software, and networks has made it possible to monitor and control processes over the network. New technologies such as non-repetitive motion robotics, additive manufacturing, and 3D printing create flexibility and increase productivity in Industry 4.0 plants. Made to order products become much more realistic in Industry 4.0 plants as a customer order can be directly scheduled and tracked in manufacturing.
As one of 4 centers across the united states, the Atlanta MBDA Advanced Manufacturing Center can help you get ready for Industry 4.0. They understand which industries and companies are further along to help you make strategic decisions. They will help you see the benefits of Industry 4.0, how to comply with your customer requirements, and how to transform your company into the smart factory of the future. If you want to learn more about Industry 4.0, contact the Atlanta MBDA Advanced Manufacturing Center or attend the 2nd National MBE Manufacturers Summit 2017.
To learn more about the steps you can take to Building a Smart Factory, join industry leaders from FORCAM, one of the undisputed pioneers of the German Industry 4.0 movement, at the 2nd National MBE Manufacturers Summit 2017 relationship building session, Building a Smart Factory: Industry 4.0.
RUDY SNYDER, P.E. has worked for Georgia Tech for over 22 years providing expertise and guidance to manufacturing and healthcare organizations. Currently, Snyder splits his time between the Atlanta MBDA Advanced Manufacturing Center, helping MBE manufacturers find opportunities, capital, and resources to help them with advanced manufacturing processes, and with assisting physicians and physician groups with Meaningful Use (an incentive program developed by the Office of the National Coordinator to encourage healthcare providers to use electronic health records). He previously directed the information technology services team for the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute and worked as a field engineer in the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership program.