People, machines, plants and products are in direct exchange with each other and are more than ever networked.
After embedding the steam engine, assembly line and finally computer (as essential foundations of the three industrial revolutions that have taken place so far), we are now facing the fourth industrial revolution with intelligently self-controlling and fully communicative factories.
The following article will explain how Industry 4.0 differs from Industry 3.0, which advantages arise for companies and how upgrading to Industry 4.0 makes sense for companies.
Industry 4.0 refers to the intelligent linking of machines, plants and industrial processes by means of information and communication technology and thus the merging of real and virtual product worlds.
Here, intelligent machines independently coordinate the production processes.
The foundation of Industry 4.0 is formed by two developments in recent years:
Networking and automation!
By means of networked systems (via the Internet), data and information are in constant exchange with one another – and can thus react intelligently to one another.
A further foundation of Industry 4.0 is the automation self-control of machines and plants within the machine park.
This is in contrast to the previous central control of machines, where information was collected in different IT systems and then evaluated by humans, who then made adjustments to increase the production rate and produce more efficient, higher quality goods.
In the digitalized industry 4.0 this process is changing fundamentally:
All machines and the goods they produce are equipped with sensors – are in constant communication with each other.
However, communication is not limited to communication between machines, systems and goods produced, but also to communication with other systems in the area of production, sales and development, whereby customers and suppliers are also fully integrated into the networked world (digital industry).
“Industry 4.0 transforms practically every object, every device and every machine into a digital node that is permanently in close communication with others!
Industry 4.0 represents another revolution in industry. The computer is no longer the central technology of this industry, but the Internet.
Instead of a hierarchical communication structure, continuous communication from the field level (sensors and actuators) to the corporate level (planning & design) is now possible.
All levels of a company (field level, control level, process control level, operations control level and company level) are thus in close communication with each other.
As a result of Industry 4.0 and the integration of intelligent networking, numerous advantages arise for companies:
Automation is increasingly becoming the focus of industrial production companies and is largely responsible for the start of a new industrial era – that of Industry 4.0.
The latest technologies in automation engineering (such as the use of information technology) enable the complete digitalisation of the product development and production process in various areas of industry.
The demands on manufacturing companies are growing rapidly:
More and more products have to be manufactured in even shorter time with maximum quality standards in order to remain part of this “new” Industry 4.0.
This is an automated and digitalized industry, in which plant sequences and processes can be virtually simulated in advance, guaranteeing optimal production results.
A high degree of flexibility in the production process is becoming increasingly important, as a wide variety of products must be realized in the shortest possible time.
Among other things, automation enables optimized, fast tool changes without the need for additional staff resources.
However, the industry of the future also continues to focus on people:
Automated robots will therefore not replace employees, but will complement them in their skills.
It is therefore almost essential for production companies that are part of this new industry and want to remain so in the long term, to resort to automation solutions.
After initial descriptions of this new industry, the question now arises as to how Industry 4.0 will be applied in practice.
When is Industry 4.0 mentioned? What does the communication of machines and plants mean in practice?
In a well-networked Industry 4.0 company, the components required for production are in constant communication with the production equipment. If necessary, the plants can independently re-order material and arrange for repairs.
If people, machines and industrial processes are networked with each other, we speak of Industry 4.0!
HERE IS A SMALL EXAMPLE:
Close your eyes and imagine a factory. However, it is not an ordinary factory, but a highly modern factory of Industry 4.0.
Why? Now you will find out!
Instead of people, you will find machines and equipment rattling in this factory.
Here, robot arms lift components from left to right, press them together and beat around on them.
Machine A now sends a message to machine B that it should wait until the next process is completed because a component has become stuck. An employee then intervenes and corrects the misalignment of the component.
Meanwhile, machine C independently orders spare parts for its own production process via the Internet, because a sensor signals that a gear wheel will be worn out in a few days.
Customers reach the company via interfaces and can have highly individualized products produced on request.
There are generally not many people in this factory. And if there are, they walk around with tablets and check what is happening in the hall – in other words, they take over the creative, value-adding activities, because they are relieved of routine work.
All this is Industry 4.0 – the fourth industrial revolution!
INDUSTRY 4.0 – PROFIT FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND THE COMPANY
Another important question regarding Industry 4.0 is its importance for the value chain.
Are companies that use Industry 4.0 in their factory particularly ecological?
Industry 4.0 enables companies to improve the quality of their KPI-based value driver models and thus often leads to sustainable effects on the environment.
First and foremost, the use of Industry 4.0 technologies results in cost and time advantages in production for the respective companies, as well as an improvement in competitiveness (profitability) due to the efficiency gains achieved.
Through detailed planning using real-time data, production can be more resource-efficient, which ultimately reduces CO² emissions.
In addition, plant constructors will be able to carry out maintenance work for the plant operator in the future as a preventive measure by permanently monitoring and analysing the plant. This will enable optimised schedules for the replacement of spare parts to be realised.
The digitalisation of the industry also favours paperless processes, which additionally protects the environment, as new materials are not regularly used.
Finally, we would like to answer the question of how far it makes sense to upgrade your company to the standards of Industry 4.0.
In an Industry 4.0 company, you – as the owner of the company – can once again devote yourself primarily to company administration, while the employees take on more management and administrative work, instead of having to carry out monotonous – and often strenuous – production processes directly at the machines.
Solutions for automation and comprehensive communication are used today in almost every successful industrial company to carry out work safely, accurately and with minimum use of resources.
As a non-automated company – with scarce employee capacities – you should therefore in any case consider at least automating existing plants and machines and integrating Industry 4.0 solutions in your company.
For this purpose, technical equipment is connected between man and machine which replaces or supplements human capabilities – thus enabling an autonomous production process.
Thus we offer our customers a range of innovative products for upgrading to Industry 4.0 – such as theSchubert WKV.
We are also happy to offer you comprehensive advice from experienced engineers who will be happy to advise you honestly and sympathetically on the extent to which upgrading your company to Industry 4.0 makes sense.
Please contact us!