Industry 4.0 – Basics
We are going to go through a sea change in the way we would manufacture things in the future owing to the hyper digitization in manufacturing!!
What is Industry 4.0?
There have been many revolutions mankind has seen and the Industrial Revolution is one that drove Humans to today’s progress. This revolution began with the help of Steam and Gas (the first industrial revolution), with Electricity coming in as the next big thrust (the Second Industrial Revolution). This was followed by Computing which brought in a new wave of progress (Third Industrial Revolution).
Next in line are smart and intelligent systems of tomorrow which are fueled by a large amount of data churned and logic like machine learning applied on them to build systems that can take decisions on their own and take action!! This is considered to be the fourth industrial revolution. Such an industry driven by these fourth-generation systems is been envisioned as INDUSTRY 4.0…
Next logical step ahead
The advent of the age of computers led to a lot of automation and helped streamline the processes. In a way, these steps are making way for the next step ahead. Today’s systems needed human interventions, whereas tomorrow’s systems are touted to be smart enough to take their decision on their own. This ability is not going to be there right from day one.
The subsystems like IoT would need to be in place which will drive a lot of data to be generated. This data generated would lead to being the study ground for all the machine learning powerhouse algorithms to work their way to come out with intelligence, which now can be applied to decision making some of which can be handled by the system itself!!
This definitely sounds too good to be true if not a bit of science fiction. Many are therefore in a state of denial about it. Nevertheless, there are others who understand the eventuality of it and know that it is best to recognize the tomorrow and start embracing and preparing for it by exploring the opportunities and low-hanging fruits available.
Industry 4.0 Applications
The first weapon needed to face the beast is to know it well. Let us look at some of the applications and technologies around Industry 4.0 – to help understand it better.
1] Organizational Data Analytics
“You can not improve what you can’t measure” – This is an age-old adage that has been the driver behind quantitative analytics and other operational improvement drives. Industry 4.0 promises to take it to the next level by helping to improve organizational KPIs. Tomorrow’s organizations especially manufacturing is going to see huge jumps in the data that is being generated. It will change the way the data is collected to become more accurate, more live than ever before.
No longer human interventions for data generation would be needed. It would be possible for the industry to pinpoint the problems. As per a Mckinsey report, an African mine was able to get 3.7% of increased yield amounting to 20 M annually, by fixing a problem found in their leaching process by analyzing additional data obtained from sensors.
2] Logistics and Supply chain Analytics
This part of the operations is already seeing the impact. In fact, if one looks at the history of IoT it began implementations with Supply Chain in focus. Thus if there is a shipment delay due to weather this information can trigger out reschedule of activities in the manufacturing to re-prioritize based on the date of the expected shipment date.
Warehouses could have robots that handle the entire movement and in an automated manner. There are organizations that have already implemented this successfully. Tomorrow’s Warehouses are going to be much smarter. Places like shipping yards that use heavy machinery equipment like cranes to load and unload shipments are going to be automated.
3] 3D Printing
This is another technology that is making advances. Tomorrow’s manufacturing is surely going to see the use of this technology. It has been termed additive manufacturing.
4] Preemptive maintenance
Tomorrow’s manufacturing would have a lot of parameters of the machine being monitored, This would provide needed data to decide on a preemptive basis if the machine has some wear and tear and needs fixing. There would be load balancing being done based on these parameters thus the ones with more wear and tear would have lesser loads etc. This kind of dynamic adjustment would be possible with these technologies.
5] Autonomous Robots
Tomorrow’s robots are going to be intelligent and able to interact with other robots and humans and learn from them. These robots therefore would have much more capabilities and eventually much more multi-functional than before.
The major impact of Industry would be an eco-system that would be connected in a much more pervasive sense than ever before. Thus objects that did not have any digital footprint would now have one. The number of conversations happening at the workplace is going to increase multi-fold (in a lighter vein).
Adopting Industry 4.0
The major challenge for any new concept is to achieve the traction needed. History is full of examples wherein people who woke to tomorrow’s eventualities got themselves ahead of the curve. Organizations in a denial mode have either finally accepted and moved ahead or withered away. New changes come with new challenges, so does Industry 4.0 comes with its own set. Industry 4.0 is truly revolutionary and today we may not be able to fathom the impact.