Industry 4.0: Some Actual Use Cases
Industrial IoT, Industry 4.0, Manufacturing automation, Digital Manufacturing are the words often heard these days almost in every business discussion, unfortunately they are also least understood topics or words today. With much confusion prevailing, let us look at some key elements behind Industry 4.0 and real or actual use cases, which will help understand this vast subject a little better.
In simple terms Connectivity, Intelligence and Automation at one sphere and IT or Information Technology and Manufacturing Technology at the other sphere are the pivotal components of creating the overall Industry 4.0
Owing to digital solutions and advance technologies, the convergence of some other components like Internet of Things, Big Data, Cloud Computing, Robotics Additive Manufacturing, Augmented/Virtual/Mixed Reality, linked to Industry 4.0 is possible.
So now we have these technologies which are driving manufacturing transformation, CONNECTIVITY, INTELLIGENCE, AUTOMATION, INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY & MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGY, creating synergies and efficiencies between erstwhile systems and processes.
1. A very large healthcare organization effectively uses IoT for efficient supply chain management by using RFID, radio frequency identification technology to track, control and mange critical medical supplies through a tag attached to the supply!
So now they have reduced manual labor tasks, manage parameters like usage, expiry, availability, reordering etc. with ease and practically error free. From the time this is implemented, the organization has reduced the need of keeping stocks on each site by about 20%+, means significant savings in real terms.
2. A very large global automotive components manufacturer put to use Big Data & Analytics to their advantage to drive ease, efficiency, savings and gains.
The company connected its machinery to monitor the overall production process at the core of its plant. This is achieved by embedding sensors into the factory’s machines which are then used to collect data about the machines’ conditions and cycle time. Once collected, advanced data analytics tools process the data in real time and alert workers when any bottlenecks in the production operations have been identified. Taking this approach helps to predict equipment failures, enabling the factory to schedule maintenance operations well before any failures occur. As a result, the factory is able to keep its machinery running and operating for longer stretches of time.
The company states that using Big Data & Analytics in this way has contributed to more than 10% output increase in certain areas, whilst improving delivery and customer satisfaction.
3. While robotics has been used in manufacturing for decades, Industry 4.0 has given new life to this technology.
With recent advancements in technology, a new generation of advanced robotics is emerging, capable of performing difficult and delicate tasks. Powered by cutting-edge software and sensors, they can recognize, analyze and act upon information they receive from the environment, and even collaborate and learn from humans.
A very large global logistics company has improved warehouse operations by deploying collaborative Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) for locating, tracking, and moving inventory in warehouse and logistics facilities. The company is using Fetch AMRs to perform pick and place operations. AMRs autonomously move across the facility alongside the workers, automatically learning and sharing the most efficient travel routes. Using Self Driving Robots in this way can help reduce order cycle time by up to 50% and provide up to twice the picking productivity gain.
4. Alongside robotics and intelligent systems, additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, is a key technology driving Industry 4.0.
Additive manufacturing works by using digital 3D models to create parts with a 3D printer layer by layer. It enables parts to be stored as design files in virtual inventories, so that they can be produced on-demand and closer to the point of need. Such a decentralized approach to manufacturing can reduce transportation distances, and hence costs, as well as simplify inventory management by storing digital files instead of physical parts.
A very large multi-site contract manufacturer, which focuses on Additive Manufacturing but also offers CNC machining and injection molding, can collect data and findings from every part design that is stored and manufactured in the virtual warehouse.
5. The concept of a digital twin holds great promise for optimizing the performance and maintenance of industrial systems.
A digital twin is a digital representation of a real-world product, machine, process, or system, that allows companies to better understand, analyze and optimize their processes through real-time simulation. As an IIoT device sends data almost in real time, a digital twin is able to collect this data continuously, maintaining its fidelity with the original throughout the lifespan of the product or system.
A pro racing team, in a bid to speed up the race car development process, partnered with another engineering giant, to gain access to advanced digital design and simulation solutions – including digital twins.
Having digital twins provides the racing team engineers with a virtual test bed for innovating new parts, optimizing car performance before they ever touch the physical car. A race car digital twin is based on sensors fitted onto a real car. These sensors collect data such as tire pressure, engine control and wind speed, which is then converted into a virtual car model. It’s this model that allows engineers to test different design configurations, making effective, data-driven design changes at a very rapid pace.
With use cases like these and many more, new emerging digital technologies, now is an exciting time for the manufacturing industry. The wave of new technologies opens up opportunities for companies to take steps towards greater flexibility, sustainability and productivity. Industry 4.0 is also facilitating new ways for humans and machines to work together, empowering businesses to achieve greater insights, reduce the risk of error and make better decisions.
At Axon Networks we believe a part of this and much more will change in no time, are you ready to leverage all of this to your advantage in many more ways?
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