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Industry 4.0: Leveraging IoT to Achieve Manufacturing Excellence

Posted by Indusa Admin on September 6, 2016 1:06 pm

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After witnessing three major industry revolutions, the world is now at the cusp of the fourth revolution. Industry 4.0 is causing a metamorphosis in the manufacturing sector, with IoT steering its way into the shop floor. Machine-to-machine communication is transforming factories by decentralizing control, and sensors are guiding factory workflow through smart devices; industrial assistant systems that use augmented reality and intelligent communication are helping manufacturers augment production efficiency, and social media leads new forms of collaboration. Industry 4.0 represents a paradigm shift from centralized to decentralized production; industrial production machinery no longer merely processes the product, but the products now have the ability to communicate with machinery and provide instructions.

industry 4.0

A Sneak Peek
Industry 4.0 unveils some powerful emerging trends that have strong potential to change the way the manufacturing industry works. The fundamental concept of Industry 4.0. is that by connecting machines and other associated systems, manufacturers are creating intelligent networks that can control each other. Machines that can predict failures and trigger maintenance processes autonomously and self-organized logistics, which react to unexpected changes in production are some examples.

Touted as the next phase in the modernization of the manufacturing sector, Industry 4.0 is primarily driven by four levers:

  • The massive increase in data volumes and computational power
  • The emergence of enabling technologies like cloud, big data, and business intelligence
  • New forms of man-machine communication such as touch interfaces and augmented-reality systems
  • Improvements in interactions between the real and virtual world such as advanced robotics and artificial intelligence

Making Sense of Industry 4.0
Although IoT has been around for some time, manufacturers have not embraced the concept on a large scale, which results in a loss of process effectiveness. Today, the benefits of greater reliability and lower cost are starting to make sense for industrial applications. Industry 4.0 offers advanced tools for smarter energy management, enhanced process efficiency, greater information storage, and real-time production optimization. 
So what does Industry 4.0 bring to the table? In the current manufacturing environment, producing high-end quality products at reduced costs is the mantra. With this strategy, the goal is now to achieve high performance outputs in a bid to increase profits as well as reputation. By utilizing data, you have a better comprehension of current operating conditions. Using commercial tools, root causes of problems and possible faults in the system can also be highlighted.

On the other hand, in an Industry 4.0 factory, in addition to monitoring and fault diagnosis, self-aware and intuitive machines are being used that provide more insight on the status of the production environment. Peer-to-peer communication and integration of data from various components provides crucial information about the health of machines, triggering alarms for maintenance activities that ensure near zero downtime, and which ultimately results to higher throughput.

The Smart Factory Concept
As IoT sweeps the manufacturing sector, smart production is quickly gaining momentum. Intelligent systems and networks that are capable of exchanging and responding to information are increasingly being used on the shop floor to manage industrial production processes. The amalgamation of the virtual and the physical systems is driving the smart factory concept and is characterized by systems that offer substantial savings in terms of quality, time, resource, and cost, in addition to improved resilience, fault tolerance, and risk management.

High levels of automation is also a given in the smart factory: smart systems that are part of a flexible network automatically oversee production processes and respond in almost real-time conditions, allowing in-house production processes to be extensively optimized. Smart factory production brings with it several advantages over traditional manufacturing. These include:

  • Efficient Production Processes: Smart factory systems have the capability to determine and identify required activities, configuration options, and production conditions as well as communicate independently with other units through wireless networks
  • Smart Manufacturing: Smart factory systems are able to enable smart manufacturing through intelligent assimilation of ideal production systems that take into account costs, logistics, security, reliability, and sustainability considerations.
  • Optimized Production Output: Based on the pace of the human workforce, smart factory systems are able to tailor adjustments so that machines adapt to the human work cycle.

A New Age
Industry 4.0 is helping create an intelligent network of independent machines that act as a bridge between the real and virtual worlds and represent a critical new facet of the manufacturing and production process. By connecting production technologies and smart manufacturing processes, Industry 4.0 is paving the way to an IoT age, which is set to radically transform the manufacturing value chain and business model for years to come.

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About the Author – Manan Thakkar

Manan Thakkar is a Solution Architect who spearheads&Indusa’s strategic initiatives to maximize customer benefits. His expertise is in enterprise consulting and solution design globally and he plays a key role in institutionalizing mobility to position Indusa’s services in leading enterprises.