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How are these 9 Industry 4.0 technologies going to transform production?

February 20, 2017
Posted by Jamie Lu

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Industry 4.0 represents the most significant developments in production since the last industrial revolution 200 years ago. Advances in technology and the speed with which these developments have appeared, means that the results of the fourth industrial revolution will dwarf all that came before it.

According to the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) Industry 4.0 can be boiled down to 9 key pillars of technology advancement that will effectively drive everything else. Let us take a closer look at how each one is likely to be instrumental in future production processes.

  1. Big Data and Analytics

The digital universe is expanding every year and is expected to grow to 44 zettabytes by 2020. Most of the data created between now and 2020 won’t be generated by people, but rather by machines and artificial intelligence. Database storage capacity will need to grow alongside Big Data in order for businesses to make sense of, and take advantage of, the colossal amount of information they capture.

During production, data can be generated and collected at any point throughout the process. With enough data to analyse, it becomes possible to identify trends that lead to sub-standard product manufacturing. This allows faulty components to be detected sooner in the production process and corrective action plans to be actioned to prevent future product rejects, creating long-term cost savings.

  1. Smart Sensors

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) integrates smart sensors into your production line. The data collected by these sensors will feedback into your Big Data system, providing additional real-time information to analyse.

Gartner estimates that 26 billion smart sensors will be in use by 2020, in anything from cars to conveyor belts, from buildings to bridges, from road signs to refrigerators and from test beds to toasters. This seamless flow of data and information from sensors to the production line and back again is at the cornerstone of industry 4.0 technology. Capturing real-time information is one of the biggest challenges in production today and smart sensor technology will overcome them. Today, manufacturing processes are increasingly controlled in virtual space and greater visibility is provided as machines pass real-time information back and forth. Working in this way allows for the creation of completely integrated and automated Industry 4.0 production lines.

  1. Autonomous robots

Smart sensors will be fundamental to the development of autonomous industrial robots as the actions of robots will become more coordinated and automated than ever before. Robots will be capable of self-directed movement of materials across the factory floor and identifying where and how to assemble products based on signals generated from IIoT sensors and real-time information.

By increasing autonomy on the production line, output will be optimised significantly. Manufacturing will become more efficient and cost-effective as the robots continues to learn and self-optimise.

  1. Additive manufacturing

Additive manufacturing devices to build 3D objects are already established in many production facilities. But the fourth industrial revolution will see them attain an increasing degree of autonomy. IIoT sensors and automation will help to better manage small production runs.

Connecting through cloud technologies will make it possible for manufacturers to construct products using additive manufacturing through 3rd party facilities. Using a global network of on-demand production lines, it becomes possible to create products closer to the customer, reducing logistics costs and an organisations carbon footprint.

  1. Multi-direction system integration

Even before the latest industrial revolution began, manufacturers were trying to integrate IT systems across departments to improve data visibility. Horizontal system integration is vital in unlocking the true value of the information held.

Industry 4.0 sees partner organisations sharing data to give a complete overview of the supply chain. As technology matures, expect to see increased automation applied to improving efficiency across corporate boundaries – the vertical silos will be broken for true multi-direction system integration. This will help to improve production timelines and reduce costs for every stakeholder involved.

The Cloud will simplify the integration process by moving storage and processing to a centralized platform.

  1. Cloud platforms

Recent research by Oracle found that 60% of businesses see an integrated enterprise cloud platform as the route to unlock the potential for disruptive technologies as cloud platforms enable multiple, separate stakeholders to work together and remove the silo mentality. They provide instant integration and real-time visibility of data. As the amount of data held by manufacturers grows exponentially under Industry 4.0, it will quickly outstrip on-site capacity. Therefore, cloud platforms will provide a scalable, cost effective way to store this data and make it available anywhere in the world.

  1. Cybersecurity

Cybercrime has the fastest growing fraudulent activity with a 20% rise since 2014.  According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, over half of British businesses will suffer cyber-attacks by 2018. As most of the Industry 4.0 production lines will be controlled by automated systems, it will become a natural target for criminals seeking to steal data or disrupt operations, therefore, businesses will need to implement measures to protect against such attacks.

Cybersecurity is built into Cloud platforms as a standard. However, there will still be a need for on-site expertise to protect assets and monitor systems, including production line robots, otherwise these could be compromised with potentially disastrous results. Cybersecurity will become a key function in production design in the future, to reduce the risk of breach from the outset.

  1. Simulation

Advances in visualisation and virtual modelling means that product modelling will become almost obsolete. The industrial revolution will see production lines setup alongside the product itself. Simulations help to create digital models so that you can explore a system’s characteristics and optimise its performance. These digital models allow you to run experiments and “what-if” scenarios without disturbing the actual production.

Simulations of the product, and the production line that supports it, will help avoid costly prototyping exercises. Trial and error product building will be performed with computerised visualisations, as will the system configurations required, so that the automated assembly line can be installed in a production-ready state.

  1. Augmented Reality (AR)

To date, AR is famous for entertainment and gaming apps such as Pokémon Go, which landed the headlines. However, from 2017 onwards, the deployment of AR in manufacturing and factory sites will enable workers to view (using AR goggles) the health and operational efficiency of all connected robots. Augmented reality utilizes media-rich visual overlays to deliver contextual information. Simulations for new products or enhancements can be trialled by customers at their own site, without the need for producing costly prototypes.

AR technologies will also be used to deliver training, to “try out” new assembly line configurations and to monitor equipment performance. AR and simulation technology will allow businesses to build products without ever compromising on the quality of the finished article.

Just as the internet has changed our day-to-day lives significantly, the same will happen within production and manufacturing due to the rise of Industry 4.0 technologies.

To learn more on Industry 4.0 technologies, such as cloud-based applications being used to revolutionise supply chain management, please visit www.adjuno.com .

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Jamie Lu – Senior Solutions Design Manager, Adjuno

With a background in financial and retail sectors, Jamie understands the importance of realizing a project’s value through its ROI. Focusing on both business and technology, Jamie utilizes his broad, yet focused, experience from Fortune 30 and Fortune 300 companies to drive business strategies through integrating technologies and business processes to yield technical solutions with numerous operating touch points. Formally leading Sourcing PLM Product and Mobile App design for Adjuno, Jamie now focuses on both PLM and Supply Chain solution designs for Adjuno’ s global client base.