The world is in the midst of transformation, with every nation progressing forward in this digital era at their own unique pace. This powerful transformation process has impacted almost every aspect of our lives, including how we produce and manufacture products.
The manufacturing industry has undergone digitalization. This transition remains so interesting that it has been referred to as Industry 4.0, representing the fourth revolution in manufacturing. Industry 4.0’s predecessors include the:
First Industrial Revolution
- The first revolution included the transition from simple tools powered by humans or animals to the dawn of mechanization through water and steam power
- The power of resources, such as coal, was harnessed
- Innovation in manufacturing increased the production of textiles, coal, and iron
Second Industrial Revolution
- The second revolution involved a shift from steam power to electric power
- It included introducing efficient processes in the production industry and the advent of assembly lines, paving the way for modern mass-production processes
Third Industrial Revolution
- The third revolution included the incorporation of electronic computers into manufacturing processes
- Computers and digital technology allowed for greater control and automation
Fourth Industrial Revolution — Industry 4.0
Industry 4.0 aims to enhance what was started in the third revolution with smart and autonomous systems powered by data and machine learning. As we delve into this fourth industrial revolution, there is a lot we must learn, understand, and be prepared to adapt to.
Industry 4.0 is the future of manufacturing and encompasses more than just improved performance and efficiency. This is because it also increases agility, flexibility, and the speed at which new products and services are designed and launched.
As a society of avid smart device users, we are well aware of the convenience with which news, shopping, and communication are available. However, many remain unaware of the changing future of manufacturing as we enter Industry 4.0, which is why we’re here to share eight ways that Industry 4.0 has, and continues to, change the future of manufacturing.
Integration of Man and Machine
The fourth industrial revolution has triggered a phenomenon, often described as an enhanced interaction between humans and machines. This integration allows for interconnectivity, information transparency, and autonomous decision making. Several technological innovations are contributing to this new automation and digitalization known as Industry 4.0.
These innovations are involved in improving results, planning inventory, and improving efficiency, delivery times, and safety. Some of these innovations include:
- Augmented reality (AR)
- Advanced robotics
- Digital twinning
Big data refers to collecting data from traditional and digital sources from within and outside of a company and representing a source for continuous discovery and analysis. Without even realizing it, data is collected from several different sources and systems. These sources can include our mobile phones and any number of systems or sensors. The evolution of Industry 4.0 entails the development of processes to best interpret the data that is collected.
“Smart” technology refers to self-monitoring, analysis, and reporting technology. Smart technology uses artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data analysis to provide cognitive awareness to inanimate objects.
The smart factory involves the connection of individual steps, starting from the planning phase to the physical work in the field. Factory machinery will improve processes through self-optimization, and systems will be able to adapt to the network environment on their own.
Seamless and autonomous factory operations will replace inefficient processes requiring human intervention. Automation and self-monitoring of tasks will spare workers to put their energy and time towards more productive tasks.
Industry 4.0’s smart factories are the factories of the future, and the creation and connection of large volumes of data between factories will facilitate flexible and efficient manufacturing processes.
Cyber-Physical Systems / Cyber Manufacturing
The integration of computation networking and physical processes is referred to as cyber-physical systems. Physical processes are under the control of computers and network monitors using feedback loops.
When the system reacts, the system’s software interprets the actions and tracks the results. Cyber manufacturing involves real-time data collection and analysis, allowing transparency at each stage of the manufacturing process. With the help of cyber manufacturing, all aspects of the manufacturing process can be tracked and analyzed.
Industrial Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of Things is a connection of all devices to the internet and one another. The IoT is a mobile and virtual provider of instantaneous connection. With the help of this interconnection, equipment within smart factories will be able to use data to manufacture, move, report, and learn new tasks quickly and efficiently.
Through the IoT, information can be shared between manufacturing partners, meaning the transmission and translation of information and data become simple and error-free.
Cloud technology is a central component of Industry 4.0. With the help of cloud technology, companies can focus their resources and expertise on more important tasks and projects, rather than focus on IT operations.
Many small-scale manufacturing companies have limited IT resources and staff, meaning they must use their resources very strategically. Cloud technology allows access to several software capabilities, which removes the requirement of monitoring and managing infrastructure.
Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing
Additive manufacturing — also known as 3D printing — is the creation of three-dimensional objects by computer-controlled processes. The models are created by the deposition of materials in layers. 3D printing allows for very rapid prototyping and creation of replacement parts and spares, allowing manufacturers to make speedy repairs, reduce downtime, increase shelf-life, and improve the return on investment.
Self-driving vehicles are a primary example of the technological evolution we are experiencing as Industry 4.0 rolls in. Self-driving vehicles offer several benefits for industrial centers compared to their predecessors, the autonomous guided vehicles.
Self-driving vehicles offer industrial centers increased flexibility, efficiency, higher throughput rates, and a faster return on investment. Self-driving vehicles are agile and able to drive through plants using the most efficient route to reach their final destination. As well, they can successfully avoid obstacles with the help of their onboard intelligence.
Self-driving vehicles use all of the same features, such as light signals to communicate their motions, such as turning and stopping, and can successfully collect and share data between themselves.
Industry 4.0 has Just Begun
Change cannot be stopped, and in the case of Industry 4.0, new developments and changes cannot be slowed down either. The new technologies of Industry 4.0 are and will continue to propel the manufacturing industry forward and improve efficiency, accuracy, and reliability across all manufacturing plants and factories.
As impressive as all of these new developments may appear, they remain only the tip of the iceberg. Artificial intelligence and smart processes incorporated into the manufacturing industry marks the beginning of the changes and updates that are yet to come.
Adapting Your Factory to Industry 4.0
In order to remain up to date and utilize the best, state of the art technology, Delta Regis Tools understands and aims to adopt the technological advancements of Industry 4.0. Our team of highly trained and dedicated professionals can help you find the tools and equipment you need to move your business into the Fourth Industrial Revolution.