IT Innovations Enabling the Industry 4.0 In Manufacturing Sector
IT based technologies are changing the ways the world used to see the manufacturing processes. The advanced technologies are making the connectivity among machinery possible which in turn makes the factories smart enhancing their production capacity and also providing them with cost-effective and time saving alternatives.
We have already discussed about the different technologies that are enabling industry 4.0 in manufacturing industries. Now is the time to have a look at the real life applications of these technologies and how these technologies have been proven successful so far.
Industrial Internet of Things
As we have studied in previous articles that IoT is a network of digitally interconnected devices and equipment’s that allows the communication and exchange of data within the devices. It comprises of various sensing devices, RFID tags, and electronics attached with manufacturing equipment.
For example, IIoT can be used is to prevent the overstocking or under stocking of inventory.
Let’s have a look at the real-life application of IoT enabling industry 4.0.
A company BJC Healthcare operates 15 hospitals located in Missouri and Illinois as a service provider company.
The company is using RFID tags to track and manage their medical supplies. Before application of RFID tags, the company needed a lot of labor to manage the inventory.
This was a challenging task as the company had a lot of supplies to store and manage physically. It also caused a considerable loss of stock as it is difficult to keep a strict check on inventory, hence the expiry dates of stock could not be noted.
But then the company applied RFID technology in 2015.
Now, the company has been able to decrease the onsite stock at different facilities by 23%. It is predicted that company will save $5 million every year due to the RFID tagging technology.
Big Data and Analytics
Using advanced computer technologies on major data sets to uncover important patterns, trends and correlations for companies in decision making process is termed as big data or big data analytics.
The main use of big data in industry is as a translator. But it is not an ordinary translator; it translates what no one else can do. The information that is produced by IoT and AI systems needs to be translated into an actionable format and here the big data comes in.
Bosch is a Chinese automotive company currently using a combination of IIoT and Big Data to connect the machinery and monitor the whole production process.
The system that company uses is comprised of sensors attached with the factory’s machinery that collect data about a certain machine’s performance and any issues related to the working of the machinery.
This collected data is then translated by Big data analytics to tell the workers if there is any breakdown in any machinery identified at some place.
This helps in predicting the machine’s failure allowing the workers to take steps to resolve the future issue before it happens.
Reports show that due to the use of big data systems, the company is enjoying 10% increase in output along with improved delivery management.
Cloud computing allows businesses to access up to date data and applications provided by the emerging technologies. And the good thing is, you don’t need to build a huge physical infrastructure to acquire this all. Cloud based computing can be easily installed and changed depending on the needs of industry.
Volkswagen is a company that developed a cloud network known as “Volkswagen Automotive Cloud” in collaboration with Microsoft. The technology offers features like smart home connectivity, digital assistance, predictive maintenance, media streaming and uptdates.
With the help of this cloud network, the company plans to add around 5 million brand offerings annually to its IoT.
Industries have been using robotics in one way or other for decades but the fourth industrial revolution has given a rise to this technology.
Today, we have robots that can perform difficult and complex tasks autonomously. These robots are aided by advanced software and sensors which make them able to recognize, analyze, and act upon the data that they gather from the ecosystem. They are also capable to learn autonomously from humans.
Fetch Robotics is a Californian based company that has a developed system of robots used for tracking, locating, and moving inventory in warehouse.
In Netherlands, a DHL service Provider Company is using the AMRs (Autonomous Mobile Robots) for pick and drop operations within the warehouse. These AMRs autonomously move with the workers and also learn from their activities and hence remember their routes of work. The company says that use of these AMRs has reduced the order cycle time by 50%.
Industry 4.0 is encouraging the use of AR technologies in the manufacturing industry. This technology can help companies from assembly processes to maintaining manufacturing machinery.
AR efficiently fills the gap between the physical and digital labor by offering virtual images and data on to a physical object. The technology mostly comprises of smartphones, tablets and smart glasses.
A company named “General Electric” has applied an AR system in their facility to offer a glimpse at how AR technology can work to increase the efficiency of manufacturing unit and labor. The company is using the AR technology on experimental bases in their jet engine manufacturing cell. Before introducing the AR technology, the workers had to stop now-and-then to check the working manuals in order to assure that the work goes in the right direction. With the use of smart AR based glasses, they can now have visual instructions while working. These smart glasses are even connected with the support team and the worker can immediately contact experts in case of any complex issue.
Company says that it is enjoying 11% increased productivity of workers after introducing the smart AR glasses.