If when you think of a factory your mind still goes to Charlie Chaplin in his film “Modern Times”, prepare to be surprised by the following…
Industry 4.0, a concept that for some is still something out of science fiction, aims to create smart factories – factories capable of optimizing its resources and production capacity through automation and digitization. But where does this term come from, why does Industry 4.0 exist, and what are the principle ideas behind it?
Intelligence Industrielle is here to keep you informed on the potential of this data-driven revolution and present you with our goals and objectives to help companies and their clients.
Origin of Concept
Introduced in Germany at the 2011 Hannover Messe Fair, an infamous industrial technology tradeshow, the concept of Industry 4.0 here signified the world’s industrial entry into the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
In the olden days, the manufacturing industry was very structured, static and highly subject to a hierarchical system. On a global scale, periods of economic growth and stagnation are cyclical. In manufacturing, often peaks of economic growth are tied to technological breakthroughs made in the industry. Between each of these peaks lies profound change – that trail these breakthroughs – to the existing production models. Following the revolutionary steam engine, the electrification of factory production, the arrival of computing and robotics, industrial innovation has now introduced a new dimension to manufacturing. The adoption of Industry 4.0 in the manufacturing sector has started to transform the industry itself into an interconnected and digitized industry with organizational systems that are flexible, dynamic and decentralized.
Data: the “Raw Material” of Industry 4.0
In the face of stiffer global competition, manufacturing companies have had to increase their productivity and become more competitive than ever before. They have needed to innovate in order to be able to offer higher quality products, reduce costs and production delays, maximize their employees’ productivity levels and extend their products’ life cycles.
Thanks to technological advancements, like smart machines being paired with smart sensors, IIoT(the Industrial Internet of Things), AI, 3D Printing and even predictive analytics, digital transformation in the manufacturing sector has taken off. The integration of information technology with automation is at the core of Industry 4.0. Digital technologies play a determining role in how productivity advances in manufacturing as megadata becomes a central figure in smart factories.
The industry of the future brings with it the possibility of integrating products, humans, and machines together. For example, IIoT, machines that connect industrial equipment to each other, generates massive amounts of data, which can then display performance indicators in real time and can be used to predict – and then avoid – potential failures.
Smart Factory Key Terms
Smartphones and tablets have become a part of our daily lives, and these accessories are also becoming everyday tools in the manufacturing workplace. With Industry 4.0, operators can have access to information in real time to track performance levels of machines or the statuses of different workstations. With this technological transition, factory supervision, work methods, and other processes are evolving. The roles and the responsibilities of each are being redefined, and this will allow more organizations to move towards empowering work cultures. The digitization of an organization will lead to putting in place digital training programs to make sure operators’ skills align with new factory needs.
However, the combination of automation and smart technologies poses other problems. Digitization allows us to store and track huge volumes of data, but it is critical to understand how to manage all of that information. As well, by multiplying the number of machines connected to each other, we face a new challenge of ensuring that the data is secure and safe. Managing cybersecurity is a top priority in order to protect sensitive information and the know-how of factories.
Our team of engineers at Intelligence Industrielle are posed to overcome these challenges and successfully optimize factory production. Thanks to networking devices, it is now possible – with the help of smart sensors, rules engine, and predictive analytics – for you to watch over operations while you are at the factory, but also at a distance, from your smartphone for example. This technology can also be used to act as an information bridge between manufacturers, and their clients – and for factories of any size. The large, but also and especially, the little companies are at the heart of this Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Industry 4.0 means a considerable change and has enormous potential for the future of manufacturing. Globally, digitization in the industry improves efficiency in production, and it will no doubt heighten competition in the Canadian industrial space and offer new opportunities on the world market.
Translation of Juliette Martinez’s “L’Industrie 4.0, un enjeu de taille pour le secteur manufacturier“ article.