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Smart Manufacturing and Industry 4.0

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[The View from The Shard, London, United Kingdom - Benjamin Davies]
 
 

 

Embracing Industry 4.0 - and Rediscovering Growth

 
 

- Tectonic Transformation is in Progress

Product development, design engineering, manufacturing and supply chain are the next frontiers of digital transformation. It's more important than the digital transformation of your front and back offices. It requires a complete reimagining of how to meet customer needs and expectations. It is creating new levels of productivity, growth and sustainability. 

To achieve this, organizations need to transform the core operations of their business and build a digital backbone and thread that stretches from the consumer to the value chain and back again.

 

 - The Foundation of Smart Manufacturing (Industry 4.0)

Industry 4.0 takes the innovative developments available today and integrates them to produce modern, smarter production models. It blends the real and virtual worlds and is based on Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) and Cyber-Physical Production Systems (CPPS). The model is designed to increase business agility, enable cost-effective production of customized products, reduce overall production costs, improve product quality and increase production efficiency. It brings a new level of automation and automated decision making, which means faster response to production needs and greater efficiency. 

The Industry 4.0 model is essentially a decentralized model, requiring the transfer of large amounts of data. The reduced cost of computer technology enables it to be embedded in shop floor materials and products. CPS then integrates the computing network with the surrounding physical world and its processes. Using the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), products will have the ability to collect and transmit data; communicate with devices and make intelligent routing decisions without operator intervention. Cloud computing technology further provides an off-the-shelf platform to store this data and make its surrounding systems free to use. 

With the explosion of new innovations such as artificial intelligence, big data, automation, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), robotics, additive technology and augmented reality, leading experts agree that the convergence of these latest innovations will transform every in the manufacturing value chain. 

 

- Manufacturing as a Service (MaaS) Model

As Cyber-Physical Production Systems (CPPS) race to service Cyber-Physical System (CPS) devices, a smart shop floor is created that acts as a marketplace. Increased communication and integration within the wider supply chain also means that different manufacturing facilities and even individual processes within a factory can compete for work; creating a Manufacturing-as-a-Service (MaaS) model. 

Big data and advanced analytics are also a major part of Industry 4.0 as hundreds of equipment and shop floor entities generate information. Simply collecting large amounts of data does not improve plant performance. Advanced analytics software is required to transform structured and unstructured data into intelligent, usable information. Having a lot of data also means this powerful software can be used to help predict production scenarios to further increase efficiency and improve production strategies. 

Intelligent operations and advanced analytics in Industry 4.0 will enable better-informed decisions and provide opportunities to further improve processes. This will enable new products to be created, tested and launched at a faster rate while maintaining quality, consistency and reliability. The benefits are so profound and significant that this revolution is sure to come, but the change will be incremental. To ensure they don’t fall behind, manufacturers need to plan for the implementation of this predicted industrial revolution.

 

- The Connected Factory

The smart factory (Industry 4.0) defines the transformation of the industrial environment from traditional systems to connected technologies. This can include the use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, sensors, edge computing, self-healing networks, and automation. 

Nine technological advancements underpin Industry 4.0: Big Data and Analytics, Autonomous Robotics, Simulation, Horizontal and Vertical Systems Integration, Industrial Internet of Things, Cybersecurity, Cloud, Additive Manufacturing, and Augmented Reality. Many of the nine technological advancements that form the basis of Industry 4.0 are already used in manufacturing, but with Industry 4.0 they will transform production: isolated, optimized cells will come together as a fully integrated, automated and optimized production process , leading the way in improving efficiency and changing the traditional production relationship between suppliers, producers and customers, as well as between man and machine. 

Manufacturing production and the digital world are converging to make factory automation more flexible, improve energy efficiency, connect logistics processes more closely and optimize value chains. The advent of 5G networks and artificial intelligence is a key enabler of the digital future and will offer manufacturers the opportunity to build smart digital factories using Industry 4.0 principles.

 

- Wireless 5G and Industry 4.0

The fifth generation of mobile networks (5G) is the catalyst for the next industrial revolution that is giving birth to smart factories around the world. 5G could replace wired Ethernet as well as Wi-Fi and 4G LTE networks that can connect equipment in factories and significantly increase automation. 

Imagine a manufacturing plant where all production equipment is constantly changing in response to market demands. For example, robots that produce widgets will reconfigure themselves based on data from all points in the widget supply chain, as well as sensors monitoring the factory itself. The result is a smart factory that is more flexible and autonomous than previous generations of automation. 

Also known as Industry 4.0, smart factories operate based on data and artificial intelligence, but connectivity forms the backbone of operations. The new fifth-generation mobile network (5G) is the catalyst for this new industrial revolution, as it offers higher speeds and bandwidth than previous networks, as well as low latency or the time it takes for data to travel between two points. 5G will work alongside, and in some cases replace, existing fixed wired connections, making manufacturing more flexible and ready to implement innovations.

 

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[A 25-MVA/10-MWh Battery Energy Storage Sytems, Beacon Solar Plant Site, LADWP]

Industry 4.0, 5G and AI: Delivering a Digital Future

The use of 5G wireless networks and artificial intelligence (AI) will be key elements for the full implementation of Industry 4.0. At the heart of Industry 4.0 is connectivity – between people and machines and between machines and machines. Industry 4.0 relies on being able to connect to applications so manufacturers can use data to gain insight into their assets and make informed decisions to optimize their processes. Industry 4.0 relies on fully networked, adaptive production through smart products with “embedded capabilities” – cyber-physical systems. 

Like 5G, AI is also expected to accelerate and enhance the implementation of Industry 4.0, and connectivity is critical to AI success. But what is artificial intelligence in the context of industrial automation? Artificial intelligence can be defined as the concept of improving and gaining insights through intelligent analysis and modeling. 

AI can happen in all three places: in the cloud, where large amounts of data can be easily evaluated; on-premise, on systems at the production network level; or at the edge, where it resides on components at the field level. 

Machines will become increasingly autonomous and are expected to use artificial intelligence to organize cooperation with each other, sharing data with supply/delivery chains and users: creating self-organizing networks as needed. The data generated during the manufacturing process is analyzed and manipulated by artificial intelligence to create a dynamic self-learning production environment capable of delivering increasing levels of productivity, operating at higher quality in a safer work environment. 

Some worry that AI will greatly reduce or even eliminate the need for human-machine interaction on the factory floor. AI, however, requires human involvement to define goals and refine outputs. Instead of providing a clear yes/no, the AI ​​gives a suggestion with a probability score. AI gradually improves the accuracy of probability scores based on human feedback and refines its algorithmic models.

 

- Logistics Boost

With unstoppable data download and upload speeds, wider coverage, and more stable connections, 5G will transform mobile connectivity. 5G is expected to be rolled out in more markets over the next few years, revolutionizing the global supply chain. More and more companies are turning to a data-driven mindset in decision-making - to predict future performance and optimize operational efficiency - which will require the collection and analysis of vast amounts of data, some in real-time. Exponentially faster data speeds and reduced latency will produce a more responsive network to support this transition, while also paving the way for more Internet-enabled smart devices to be integrated in logistics supply chains. This will make logistics processes faster, safer and more reliable.

 
 
 

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