Industry 4.0, digitalisation of manufacturing, the 4th industrial revolution – however you refer to it, Industrial IoT and digitalisation are big news. By introducing automation and data exchange into manufacturing processes, industries and enterprises are making significant changes to the efficiency of their factories and the innovation of the machinery they use to manufacture products. Read on to find out how Industry 4.0 is influencing manufacturing on a global scale. (*thanks to Julian Smith, MD at Polestar Interactive, for the pic.)
Being connected to the Industrial Internet of Things enables Smart Factories to breathe new life into many traditional manufacturing processes, and big Automotive names such as Maserati, Jaguar Land Rover and BMW are currently leading the way. In South Carolina, BMW are aiming to manufacture “30% more vehicles with the same number of workers while trying to reduce production costs”.
Smart Factories enable manufacturers to use digitalised data exchange and automation to improve efficiencies, cut costs, and focus on customisation and innovation. By connecting factories and enabling data exchange throughout the entire manufacturing process, manufacturers are able to innovate and evolve their product lines quickly and economically. As Siemens put it, ‘The potential Global Digitalisation Productivity Bonus across all manufacturing sectors is estimated to be between 6.3 percent and 9.8 percent of total annual revenue by 2025.’
Digital Twin Technology
By creating a virtual, computerised version of any physical component of the production line, Smart Factories can work on new designs without needing to physically produce new equipment or machinery before it is completely ready. Digital Twin Technology means that entire production lines can be designed, configured and tested in advance making physical deployment, commissioning and adaptation significantly faster. Data transferred from the production line to its virtual counterpart can be used to make adjustments, schedule maintenance and troubleshoot problems before they become disruptive. By digitalising production lines, manufacturers are able to spend more time on machinery development, with real-time data from sensors on the factory floor helping them to innovate and evolve their processes. This kind of technology was named in Gartner’s top ten strategic technology trends for 2017 – indicating just how important it is set to become.
Innovative technologies already being implemented in Smart Factories across the world include Robotics, 3D printing and CNC machinery. These can help to bring down production costs, facilitate global scale, and reduce the need for large factory sites for certain industries. In some cases, 3D printers can be deployed on site, reducing the impact on the environment traditionally associated with large factories, and giving customers flexibility and control over their own requirements.
Increasingly, customers are demanding personalisation in terms of products. The digitalisation of the manufacturing industry makes product customisation a real possibility within affordable limits. Many of the capabilities of customisation lie in software, and connected production line machinery that relays data back to the cloud to influence production decisions is becoming an affordable solution for manufacturers. Who remembers “Share a Coke” and the personalised labels? The very popular campaign resulted in a pop in Coca-Cola sales globally.
Industry 4.0 is living up to its name as the industrial revolution of the 21st century, with disruption in the manufacturing sector enabling innovation and evolution. By keeping production lines smooth and efficient, connected factory machinery allows businesses to focus on the improving yields and driving growth through sales and marketing creativity. The potential for “output-based” business models is very real and secure remote connectivity with everything from individual machines to entire production lines is an essential part of the revolution. Read more about Secure IoT connectivity here.