How Current IT is enabling Industry 4.0

How IT is enabling Industry 4.0 

Manufacturing is continuously headed towards the advancements of the fourth industrial revolution aided by IT based technologies. The manufacturing units are being digitalized by using sensors, software, AI, big data and cloud computing connectivity. Hence we are having more efficient factories revolutionizing the manufacturing industry – thanks to IT!

This article is meant to discuss the means by which IT has and is enabling industry 4.0 models in manufacturing industry. 

The industry 4.0 applications are changing the ways in which the products were planned, designed, manufactured and repaired before the introduction of IT in the field. Let’s have a look at each application of IT that is enabling industry 4.0 in manufacturing industry.

Changing the Resource and Process Management 

Smart Energy Systems

IT techniques help factories build an IP backbone that connects sensors, actuators, controllers and machinery together which helps in monitoring the use of energy by different parts of the manufacturing unit. This helps in using the energy in more efficient and cost-effective manner by supplying energy where needed and turn it off where it is not needed. 

The Smart Factory 

The use of technologies like 3G, LoRa WAN, IoT, cloud computing, RFID tags and sensors makes the connectivity between equipment like containers, pallets and roll cages possible and makes in convenient to track and control them during the manufacturing, storage and delivery stages. This connectivity can also be used to collect information on temperature, location, and inventory and hence makes the manufacturing unit a smart factory. 

Real time Optimization of yield 

 The inter-connectivity of manufacturing unit’s equipment provides information about the performance of certain equipment at a certain time. By taking a bit more help from machine learning, this information gathered from the sensors can be converted into a real-time analysis of the yield in manufacturing unit. This helps in optimizing the yield by saving much of time and budget that could be spent on an unknown issue in a certain part of machinery if it was not industry 4.0 optimized.

Changing the Asset Management

Route-Flexible Manufacturing Systems

The use of IoT-enabled technologies is making companies more reactive. It helps the manufacturers to tackle the issues like, the mechanical break downs in equipment, to continue the production without any break. This is achieved by manufacturing a certain product through different routes or by continuing process on more than one machine. This increases the uptime and maximizes the asset utilization and hence makes the factory more flexible.

Monitoring and Control

In a manufacturing unit, there are hundreds and thousands of equipment and machinery working all together to manufacture an end product. To make this all work properly, the visibility of all the processes is necessary. 

IoT and AI technologies have made it possible. The manufacturers can have an eye on all the operations by connecting their tablet, mobile or laptop with the interconnected network of all factory’s equipment. IoT helps having a real-time visibility of all the operations taking place at a certain part of the factory. It also helps engineers to identify and cure any breakdown in the machinery by smart sensing technology. 

AR (Augmented Reality) Technology 

This is the interesting part. Exploring the instruction manuals to find solution of a certain problem is the story of past. Today, workers just need an AR headset containing all the data needed for a certain task like graphs, diagrams, lines, and instructions to keep guiding the worker as he proceeds with the task. This makes all the work autonomous and continuous. The main concept behind this advanced thrill in the manufacturing industry is image recognition technology, wireless connectivity, computing power and IoT. 

Socio-Technical collaboration

Industry 4.0 models has introduced the lightweight, easy and safe to lift and operate robots to provide the new levels of flexibility to the manufacturing industry. These robots are fitted with positioning sensors and they can perform the most repeated tasks on their own giving the labor a room to do other important and complex tasks. 

3D Printing

Any part or component of a certain machine can be damaged at any time during the manufacturing process. This can lead to a breakdown until the part is repaired or replaced. 3D printers have solved this problem. Any part of the machinery that is needed to be replaced can now be made by 3D printers within the factory. The IoT and sensor system can convey the shape and structure of the damaged part to the wi0fi connected 3d printer. Thus the printer will make the part autonomously and then the work can be started again. 

3D printers are also being used in the research and experimentation stages of production. Before that, specific softwares were used to show illustration of an object in the computer screen but now, 3D printers have made it possible to hold that illustration in the hands to understand and conclude a certain problem easily and time effectively. 

This is just a fraction of data that is available on the benefits of IT to industry and how IT has enabled industry 4.0. There is a lot more yet we have discussed the important points. The industry is headed towards the 5threvolution and IT is acting as the back bone. Let’s see, what IT has to bring for us yet!

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