Vision is a clear picture or idea of things that you want to happen or going to happen. Visions therefore important for any progress. The idea of Industry 4.0 is also a vision that soon will be turning in to reality.
What is Industry 4.0?
The first revolution of Industry took place with steam and all the progress stemmed around it. The second revolution was the advent Electricity which changed lot of things. The third revolution was when Computers were introduced. The current fourth revolution is now in the pipeline with Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things (IoT) falling in place, where the factory itself is smart and everything inside is happening in a smart and aware way.
In Industry 4.0 the raw materials and products are able to communicate with things including the machines around them and leading themselves to where ever the process needs them, such intelligent and in process systems are called Cyber Physical systems. Thus it is clear that the need for human intervention or help has become reduced to an optimal extent.
In Industry 4.0, an automated bottling plant works with the bottle telling the filling machine what needs to go in to it and how much. The bottle now moves ahead to getting the right cap and the right labels being placed. Thus there would no longer be multiple and dumb production lines, instead a single intelligent line which works based on what’s on the plate.
Industry leaders like Bosch, Benz, Volkswagen, Siemens already have started taking leaps in this direction. There are multiple common challenges that Industries face in terms of adopting this vision. Nevertheless IoT technology will form the stepping stone towards it.
IoT and the it’s role in Industry 4.0
IoT would be at the heart of moving towards Industry 4.0. The first step towards this connected vision of a smart factory/industry – is to enable the things involved in the process to have an identity – literally get them baptized!! Additionally they would also have the ability to communicate with the rest of them. This therefore would be a fundamental step and once this has been enabled, the factory is ready to embrace Industry 4.0
How to go about Baptizing?
The process of IoTizing the factory on a random basis too would not be a helpful. This will need to be strategic. Refer to this article https://www.quicsolv.com/blog/iot-automation-how-it-s-approached to understand better, how to approach the IoT automation. Once there is clarity and a plan in place, this would pave the way ahead in terms of aspects like – what to do, choosing your partners, platforms and solutions.
What next after IoT?
The mere presence of IoT devices and IoT cloud would not just suffice – thus it is a necessary condition but not a sufficient one. To get to Industry 4.0, one would need to have the processes revamped, one would need to re-evaluate the metrics, one would need to add more of these. There would be a need for process for process optimizations, we may have to have process optimization labs which would have the simulations worked out for different values, to check the what-if scenarios since these would be costly to implement otherwise. The level of Quality will itself see a change, with new expectations in place. Thus the whole business functioning may undergo a sea changes in this attempt.
Low Hanging Fruits
Now when implementing one may want to go about doing so with a bottom up approach by implementing in discrete areas with specific solutions.
Obviously one tends to look for what are those important areas which will give direct benefits. Some of the areas any organization can think of implementing are:
The Assets are truly the important so that the business can run smoothly. These are also ones which form the capital investments done by the organizations thus having a financial impact in to the balance sheet. It is there fore imperative that these are tracked to ensure that these assets get deployed in an efficient manner and timely manner. Some solutions and implementations like Bin Tracking and Pallet Tracking are example implementations which can be undertaken.
The next important asset of an organization is it’s people. It is therefore equally important to track them so that we are able to reach out to them when needed, track them so that the work dynamics can be monitored to build efficient flows and also to validate and report on aspects like the attendance, out of office etc automatically and proactively to improve the productivity directly as well as in an indirect manner. There are multiple solutions like a Security Fleet Management system as well as a Employee Tracking system which can be used to with in an organizations.
Any organization runs multiple processes and running them efficiently becomes necessity with ever increasing competition and the need to improve. There are solutions specially ones directly impacting the way manufacturing happens like the Dynamic Production Planning system would pave the way ahead.
The set of challenges one would face is definitely going to be different and will keep evolving as one matures in to this process of metamorphosis. People are going to make the big difference. Managements are going to have to really manage these changes cleverly and with empathy.
Thus Industry 4.0 may seem not around the corner for now but definitely not far away!! Are you taking the right steps towards it!!
Read more about the challenges the Industry 4.0 faces in What are the challenges faced in moving to Industry 4.0?