‘Industry 4.0’, a term frequently used, but little understood by SMEs.
With our participation in Indumation earlier this month, which featured an ‘Industry 4.0 Village’, a little clarification of this term is at its place.
Industry 4.0 found its origin at the Hanover Fair in Germany in 2011.
It refers to the 4th industrial revolution, where we reach the next step after the digitization of production processes: connecting all systems and making them communicate with each other.
In the near future factories will become ‘Smart Factories’ with ‘Smart Products’. Industry 4.0 enables companies to produce more efficiently, resulting in an increased competitive position.
In short, we can divide Industry 4.0 in 4 parts:
The Internet of Things is already present in our environment and its presence is growing.
Every day new things are connecting: everything from your thermostat to the parking meter in the street is connected to the internet. Many of these devices are already reporting data they receive from their environment. For example: your thermostat lets you know that the temperature in your house is 16°C, and you are able to raise it via your smartphone at work.
When we take a look at the world of production, we can see that there’s a strong growth of devices with an IP-address. Combined with sensors, actuators, cameras,… they generate a huge amount of data. Data which has never been available, and represents a great value.
Due to these intelligent machines, connected via The Internet of Things, a cyber-physical production is created, enabling operators to track the whole production process (in real time).
A ‘Smart factory’ offers countless advantages.
Other than the live tracking of your production process, each product can be traced and its history checked. Furthermore, production will always be guaranteed when internal problems or problems with suppliers occur. Does the customer require a last minute modification to his ordered product?
That issue is easily resolved, and thanks to the dynamic production process it still remains profitable!
That flexibility can also be found socially. Employees and their specialties can be integrated in the system, making their work more varied, challenging, but also more efficient.
The same goes for the maintenance staff: when an error occurs, the system adds a geotag to the location of the malfunctioning part. The people involved can collaborate remotely to solve the issue using pictures and comments. The system also indicates how the problems can be avoided in the future and based on the data collected it can even predict when this problem will occur again.
Storing and analysing data, the numerous communication tools,… are only made possible by storing all data in the cloud, using ‘The Internet of Things & Services’. It implies a shift from data that’s stored everywhere to useable data that can be accessed anywhere anytime.
By storing all information in one place and linking it together, it offers huge benefits for the management. Not only do they get a better overview of their organisation, but thanks to the real time analysis they can make faster decisions which gives them a strategic advantage.
And last but not least: by making the production more flexible and better monitored, organisations can save huge amounts of money by saving on their energy management.
Did you already recognise some benefits? That is possible, because Reditech has been linking all the parts of production processes for years! By implementing an MES system in your company, you are making the first step towards Smart Manufacturing. We will happily outline the rest of the route to a Smart Factory and help you creating one.
If you want more information about Industry 4.0 and what it can do for you, please contact us.
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