As digital manufacturing is taking over the traditional manufacturing operations, industries have attained a technical benchmark that seemed unattainable before. With the introduction of the Industrial “Internet of Things”, the manufacturing industry is moving towards the factories of the future that has a connected shop floor where all the assets have real-time interactions.
How industrial landscape has evolved over time
It all started with the invention of the steam engine, which powered the first machines that made the work easier for our ancestors. And then came electricity which drastically changed the manufacturing process with the introduction of assembly lines and mass production. Next was the advent of computers and beginning of automation, which brought the third industrial revolution. And now comes Industry 4.0, which will be a blend of computers, cyber-physical systems, and automation, working harmoniously to make the production line smarter and more independent.
Identifying pain areas in traditional manufacturing and addressing them with Industry 4.0
Production line monitoring
As the factory floor expands, it gets difficult to monitor multiple assembly lines, let alone multiple factories located at remote locations. Getting information on the productivity of a specific manufacturing plant would require you to get in touch with a list of people until your reach the right person who can share the exact information. With smart factory, the ability to remotely monitor multiple production lines that are located at different manufacturing plants and at different geographical locations becomes easier and defined.
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Smart supply chain
The processes linked with the entire supply chain are not only complicated but are also hard to keep track of. Watching over each and every step of the supply chain management is a tedious and time-consuming process. With smart factory, comes intelligent supply chain that is embedded with RFID tags and sensors to allow process automation, inventory tracking, and real-time monitoring.
Manufacturers that still rely on the legacy systems often stockpile replacement parts that are at higher risk of failure. This practice occupies a lot of factory space, which can be otherwise utilized to serve a better purpose. Predictive analytics can bring an end to stockpiling by allowing companies to monitor their equipment and their performance. The data visualization generated as an outcome of predictive analytics also specifies how many machines are functional at the moment, the efficiency of each active machine, and generates alerts for all the machines that are not functioning as expected and needs maintenance.
Assigning and monitoring assets can be a challenging task when done manually. Keeping a record of each manufacturing asset and identifying who is using any particular asset at a given point of time is not possible with manual process. With the help of the Industrial IoT, factory managers can effortlessly monitor every single asset that is connected with the system, measure its efficiency, know about its availability and active time, and decide or identify who is using or will need the asset at a particular time.
There was a time when a product would be mass produced with same design and features, maybe in a few different colors. Now, as the communication between a brand and consumers got easier, there’s more room for personalization and co-creation of the exact product is preferred. As automation enters production line, meeting the demand of a customized product according to customer needs is quite possible. The combination of IIoT and just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing allows companies to consider customer preferences and meet the demands accordingly.
The bigger picture
Industry 4.0 is about to bring a technological wave that will be considered as the fourth industrial revolution. This wave seems all set to disrupt the legacy systems and establish a new foundation for better manufacturing processes. As happens with all the major technologies, Industry 4.0 will surely reward its early adopters, and those who are too scared to change will soon become technically irrelevant. If you are willing to take the initiative and want to take your production line to the next level, get in touch with our team.