The challenges in Industry 4.0
The concept of Industry 4.0 can be understood as a new way of organizing the production resources.
The ultimate goal is to launch a large number of “Intelligent Factories” capable of adapting to the needs of the market and production processes in a way more effective way, thus making a more efficient allocation of resources.
The next industrial revolution is about to explode and it will bring great changes at all levels.
What are the challenges?
It is known by different names: the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Intelligent Industry, Ciber-industry… but the most recurrent is Industry 4.0.
We are in the foreground of what we could call the fourth industrial revolution, a new milestone in industrial development and its transformation into what we will call “Smart Factories”.
But what is a Smart Factory and how does it work?
Through technological digitalization factories work in a way more efficient way, making use of technology throughout the entire production process.
The market is already generating new needs as a result of the implemented innovations, companies are betting on the application of digitalization in their production processes.
This digitalization is applied all the way through the value chain both to suppliers and customers by integrating the technology of data processing, sensors and intelligent software in order to control and plan production thus reaching the final goal: increasing value in the whole chain.
All this implies a high degree of digitalization and automation that will only be possible if the Cyberphysical and Internet systems are used. Virtual networks with physical control capacity that allow the modernization of the factories until they become “Smart Factories” characterized by an immediate and continuous communication between the different areas.
What are the basics?
With the evolution of the Industry, intelligent management systems are included in the business models. These consist of the union between digital and physical technologies and the integration of all of them in different stages of the productive chain, which translates into increased productivity and greater efficiency.
- Real time data analysis and monitoring
Big data analytics is an improvement in decision making. Knowing all the stages of the process in industrial production and the exact moment in which they occur.
- Computer simulation
Remote monitoring of production processes with the ultimate goal of making production more efficient and avoiding possible failures during mass production.
- Decentralization in decision making
The implementation of cyber-physical systems bases decision making on the analysis of data, which is safer and more precise since it does not depend on external actions.
- Modular system division
Machines will be able to produce according to demand, using only the necessary resources at each moment optimizing production and guaranteeing energy savings.
The key points of Industry 4.0
- Big Data analysis and simulation
In Industry 4.0, simulation analyzes data in real time allowing operators to test and optimize the configuration of the machines for manufacturing the next product in the virtual production line, all this before performing any change.
The use of robots is not a novelty, but in Industry 4.0, the next level is reached by incorporating new capabilities, such as artificial intelligence, that allow robots to work without human supervision. This allows them to coordinate and automate certain logistical and productive tasks, achieving cost reduction and increasing production.
- Internet of things (IoT)
Digital transformation has arrived to every single element in the Industry 4.0, from the smallest tool to huge independently operating machines. It is the connection through the entire network of elements that are part of the production chain. Technologies that were previously not connected are now connected through an IP-based network.
- Cloud Computing
The production of goods and services is increasingly related to tasks that require the use of shared data and applications between different locations and systems, beyond the servers used by companies. The use of the cloud is a great reduction of the costs, time and it means an increase in efficiency.
- Additive manufacturing (3D printing)
Also known as 3D printing that allows the manufacturing industry to create customized products.
- Augmented reality
Through digital technologies we can now create virtual environments that allow us to safely test implementations. It is also compatible with a large number of applications and services in different fields such as healthcare and education.
Digitalization in Industry 4.0 implies a change of corporate mentality, among many other things, having workers prepared to operate with specialized software and open-minded managers willing to face major changes.
It is clear that this new era is going to involve robotics, but human capital will continue playing a fundamental role and will require constant and permanent training to adapt to this new environment.
Industry 4.0 is a reality, and from what we can see, those companies that are not able to adapt to this new era, taking qualitative and quantitative leaps in the way of understanding and transforming their production processes, are destined to disappear.
You can also be interested in our last post about the potential and responsibilities of the artificial intelligence. Read more.