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INDUSTRY 4.0 - Introduction to Smart Manufacturing

What is Industry 4.0? Nowadays, machines are using the Internet of Things(IoT), Cyber-Physical System(CPS), artificial intelligence, cloud computing, video analytics and other digital technologies to communicate with each other and make informed decisions, independent of humans. This phenomenon was already coined Industry 4.0 in 2011 by the German federal government.
Smart Manufacturing

What is Industry 4.0?

What is Industry 4.0?

Nowadays, machines are using the Internet of Things(IoT), Cyber-Physical System(CPS), artificial intelligence, cloud computing, video analytics and other digital technologies to communicate with each other and make informed decisions, independent of humans. This phenomenon was already coined Industry 4.0 in 2011 by the German federal government.

In simple terms, Industry 4.0 is the concept in which every part of the factory, connected together over a network, interacts with one another. It is also referred to as Smart Manufacturing wherein the factories are turning smarter than ever. Just imagine a factory with robots, smart machines, controllers, raw materials and other elements communicating with one another to get the best results.

Smart Manufacturing has put machines in business as real-decision makers, which was otherwise done by humans. With Smart Manufacturing in function, data will tell us what to do, hence computers take control of the process.

The fourth industrial revolution is not only an extension of the third industrial revolution but is growing out of it as a whole new era. Industry 4.0 is enhancing and advancing the digital revolution which started in 1950s. During this period, computers and automation were incorporated in the manufacturing processes and the manufacturers could see a shift from mechanical technology to digital technology.  In this era, factories and workplaces are implementing new technologies, connected systems are communicating and interacting, visualising the entire production process and taking decisions autonomously.

smart devices run AI-enabled applications on the factory floor
Smart Factory and Smart Applications

Smart You, Smart Factories and Smart Applications

So far, you have been collecting and analysing data manually but now the machines and systems are able to communicate and interact with one another and this resulted in adding the term ‘smart’ in ‘smart factory’. Digital transformation of manufacturing industry has paved way for more efficient and agile factory. It serves you with high-quality and consolidated real-time data for better informed decision making which further leads to high customer satisfaction, enhanced employee and higher profits.

Video Analytics is one technology that can upgrade your manufacturing unit to the category of smart factories. A smart factory is installed with smart devices that run AI-enabled applications on the factory floor. You can view these technologies as your eyes, ears and hands across the manufacturing unit. Towards this goal, video analytics provides a robust automated monitoring solution. A video analytics deployment improves revenue-to-profit ratio by enhancing productivity, optimising warehousing, ensuring workforce safety, and reducing operational costs.

Are manufacturing companies ready for Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 is the trend that no manufacturer can afford to ignore. In order to survive and thrive in the market, you know, it is imperative to increase efficiency and decrease the overall cost. For manufacturers, to become efficient, smarter and collaborative, there is a need to invest in technology that helps people, systems and machines connect and communicate. According to Dell Transformation Index Report, 2016, two years ago around 45% of business leaders expected their organisations to become obsolete in the next three to five years and now the figure has come down to 33% despite the fact, 91% of mid-size and large organisations face major hurdles to digital transformation, thus only a few are taking steps towards digitalisation.

If you do not embrace this revolution then it is bad for your business. So why not step in and participate in the race to stay ahead of your competitors. Reap the benefits of not being a laggard! Following are the points to assess and get ready for Industry 4.0.

  • Improvements in infrastructure or process.

You need to be sure, before making any decisions, if you require new machines and IT systems to enter Industry 4.0 or your existing infrastructure is compatible without any advancement. Besides this, check if your process needs improvement as you will adopt modern systems to make your process efficient and cost effective.

  • Stay abreast of new technology.

As stated earlier, revolution is inevitable and there are certain changes that the technological revolution has introduced in the market. It is important on your part to stay abreast of the technological development. It takes time to move parallel with new technology so it’s imperative to implement the same early. This way, you can realise what works best for your organisation and what doesn’t.

  • Try, buy and deploy.

For this step, do what you do before buying clothes from a store, online or offline- Try. Keep in mind to try and test the products that you’re planning to buy before evaluating their performance and incorporating them into your company. You don’t want to pony up a large amount for the solutions that don’t work for your organisation.

  • Upskill your personnel.

You need to ensure that your manufacturing executives are abreast of the functions of new tech. The personnel might not have the required technical skills and knowledge to supervise the orchestration of Industry 4.0. Some functions of this technology can’t be taught to the existing personnel so this proposes a need to hire experts with relevant skills and knowledge.

What was once the future is now the reality, Industry 4.0 has put us in the middle of transformations and the volume of data is growing at an unprecedented pace. If you don’t embrace this phenomenon now, then you’ll miss out on game changing ROIs - improved efficiency, enhanced quality and reduced costs, to name a few.

About the Author

Palak Budhraja is a marketer at Sparrosense and her days are spent understanding how the customer wants to buy and making a smooth journey for him. By the night she is either a cook, a reader or an artist.