Why Industry 4.0?

Why Industry 4.0?

The Industrial revolution 4.0 marks the birth of digitization and automation of the manufacturing processes called – ‘Smart Manufacturing.’

Industry 4.0 however, is not a new technology and nor it is a business discipline, but a new approach called ‘Smart Manufacturing’ which is fully integrated, collaborating manufacturing systems that respond in real-time to meet the changing conditions and demands in the factory, in the supply network and customer needs. This new approach will help the manufacturers to achieve the results that weren’t possible a decade ago. Therefore, thanks to the advancements in technology.

Smart Factory which is at the heart of the Industry 4.0 will take on board the Information and communication technology (ICT) for the evolution in the production line and supply chain that integrates a much higher level of digitization and automation. It simply refers to machines using self-configuration, self-optimisation, and artificial intelligence to perform complex tasks for delivering vastly superior, high quality, and cost-efficient goods and services. The Smart Factory can also be defined as a factory where the Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) communicates over the IoT and assist machines and people in the execution of their tasks.

Industry 4.0 Components: Given that “Industry 4.0” is the term used to refer to the fourth Industrial revolution, academics are researching to define this approach accurately which makes it harder to distinguish the main components of this approach. Based on their ‘Literature Review,’ Hermann, Penket, and Otto took it upon themselves in finding out the main components of the Industry 4.0. Since the term originated in Germany, they researched the ‘German’ equivalent of each term in English. The resulting was as follows – “Design Principles for Industrie 4.0 Principle” by Hermann, Otto, and Pentek:

Following were the Search Term Groups and the number of publications in which the search term groups occurred:
  • Cyber-Physical Systems, CPS, Cyber Physikallsche Systeme – 46
  • Internet der Dinge, Internet of Things – 36
  • Intelligente Fabrik, Smart Factory – 24
  • Internet der Dienste, Internet of Services – 19
  • Intelligentes Produkt, Smart Product – 10
  • Machine-to-Machine, M2M – 8
  • Big Data – 7
  • Cloud – 5

Smart Factory, Cyber-Physical Systems, Internet of Things, and Internet of Services were the most common four terms cited in the academic research publications relating to the industry 4.0. Consequently, given its nascent stage, these are the four main components of Industry 4.0 that the industry will focus:

1. Cyber-Physical Systems:

A cyber-physical system aims at the integration of physical and computational processes. This refers to networks and computers can monitor the physical process of manufacturing at a particular process. The development of such a system comprises of three phases:

  1. Identification: Unique identification is essential in production. This is the fundamental language by which a machine can communicate. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is an excellent example of that. RFID uses an electromagnetic field in the identification of a specific tag which is often attached to the object. Although such technology has been around, it serves as a good example of how Industry 4.0 initially operated.
  2. The Integration of Actuator and Sensors: It is essential for a machine to operate. The integration of actuators and sensors means that a specific machine’s movement can be controlled and it can sense the changes in the environment. However, despite the integration of actuators and sensors, their usage was limited and didn’t allow them to communicate with each other.
  3. The development of actuators and sensors: The development of the sensors and actuators enabled the machines to analyse and store data. The CPS is now equipped with multiple actuators and sensors which can be networked for the exchange of information.
2. The Internet of Things (IoT):

The cyber-physical system still may sound familiar, but the machines can exchange data in many applications which can sense the changes in the environment around. The fire alarm is a good example. The IoT, however, is genuinely considered to be the initiator of Industry 4.0. The IoT enables machines and objects such as sensors and mobile devices to “Communicate” with each other as well as humans, to work out the solutions. The integration of such technology enables objects to work and solve problems independently. However, this is not entirely the case since human beings are allowed to intervene.

In the case of conflicting goals, the situation is raised to higher positions. According to Hermann, Otto, and Pentek, “Things” or “Objects” can be understood as cyber-physical systems. Therefore, the IoT could be defined as a network in which the CPS cooperates through unique addressing schemas.

3. The Internet of Services (IoS):

In today’s world, it is easy to see every electronic device is more likely to be connected with another device or the internet. With the advancements in the development and diversity in smart and electronic devices, obtaining more of them creates complexities while undermining the purpose of every added device. Smartphones, laptops, tablets, TVs or even smartwatches are becoming more and more interconnected. The more you buy, the added value of the previous device becomes unrecognisable. The IoS aims at creating a wrapper that simplifies all the connected devices to make the most out of them by simplifying the process. It is the customer’s gateway to the manufacturer.

4. Smart Factory:

Smart factory is a key feature of Industry 4.0. It adopts the so-called ‘Calm-system.’ A calm-system is a system which deals with both the virtual as well as the physical world. Such systems are also called as ‘background systems’ and in a way operates behind the scene. A calm-system is aware of the surrounding environment and the objects around them. The system can be fed with soft information regarding the product being manufactured, such as models and drawings. According to Hermann, Otto, and Pentek – “The Smart Factory can be defined as a factory where the CPS communicates over the IOT and assists people and machines in the execution of their tasks.”

Industry 4.0 Design Principles:

The ‘design principle’ enables manufacturers to check any potential transformation to Industry 4.0 technologies. Based on the above components, the following are the design theory:

  1. Interoperability: Machines, objects, and people need to be able to communicate through the Internet of Things (IoT) and Internet of People (IoP). This is the most critical principle which truly makes a factory a ‘Smart’ one.
  2. Virtualisation: Cyber-physical systems must be able to create and simulate a virtual copy of the real world. CPS must also monitor existing objects in the environment around, and there must be a virtual copy of everything.
  3. Decentralisation: The cyber-physical system’s ability to work independently provides room for customised products and problem-solving capability. It also creates a flexible environment for production. In case of any failure or conflicting goals, the problems are delegated to a higher level. However, even with advanced technologies implemented, the need for ‘Quality Assurance’ remains a necessity for the entire process.
  4. Real-time Capability: A smart factory requires to be able to collect real-time data, analyse, and store it, and make decisions based on the findings or outcomes. This is not only limited to market research (MR) but also to the internal processes such as the failure of the machine in the production line. Smart devices must be able to identify the defects and re-assign the tasks to other operational machines. It also contributes to the optimisation and flexibility in production.
  5. Service Orientation: Production must always be customer oriented. People and smart devices/objects should be able to connect efficiently through the Internet of Services (IoS) for developing products based on the specifications of the customer. This is where the IoS becomes essential.
  6. Modularity: In the ever-evolving and dynamic market, a ‘Smart Factory’s ability to adapt to a new market is critical. In a usual scenario, it could probably take a week for an average company to study the market and change its production accordingly. On the other hand, smart factories should be able to adapt quickly and smoothly to seasonal changes and market trends.

To summarize, the manufacturing industries are developing software and methods for analyzing digital industrial application data. In the future, production will involve machines and objects being equipped with sensors that continuously collect data about status, location, work status, and usage patterns when combined and analysed accordingly, these data will lead to much more efficient processes and optimal and preventive maintenance of machinery and equipment. This helps to identify sources of errors quickly and save even more costs. Therefore, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) also called industry 4.0 is a quantum leap in the networking of people, machines, and data that enables to improve the efficiency of a product throughout its lifecycle. For customers, this results in an increase in productivity throughout the lifetime of the product.

Image Credit: Pixabay

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