Today’s and tomorrow’s manufacturing in the context of Industry 4.0
In 2011, business representatives and authorities of Germany introduced a concept of Industry 4.0 becoming synonymous with the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This process is indissolubly related to the development of information technologies and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) in particular. The article explains breakthroughs in the manufacturing sector and the role of IoT in this aspect.
Have you remembered Charles Darwin’s saying about the evolution? It is not the strongest and the smartest that survives, but the one adapting to changes best of all.
Manufacturing should be adaptive as well. This is manifested in its operation, technological, production, and interactive flexibility. This is the only way for manufacturing to become intelligent, and thus efficient and competitive.
It was noticed by Germany entrepreneurs and policymakers while forming the concept of Industry 4.0 in 2011 as a part of the High-Tech Strategy 2020. It is based on the shift to smart production using IIoT (or just Industrial Internet) technologies.
US corporations were the first to follow the example of Germany: in 2014, Intel, IBM, GE, Cisco, and AT&T established the Industrial Internet consortium. Ilya Shpurov, Vice President at the International Congress of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, believes that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will gradually cover the whole world.
Internet of Things as part of Industry 4.0
The fourth generation industry prescribes a new approach to existing business models. Therefore, real sectors of world economy are facing the digital transformation, or digitalization. It means that industrial enterprises are becoming autonomous and automated.
One of the drivers for such a change is IIoT. It frequently requires a total reconstruction of producing operations and equipment replacement. That is why it is integrated quite slowly. It depends on the enterprise infrastructure and its current condition.
As the evidence from practice shows, the Industrial Internet of Things improves planning, reduces the time of product making, conducts a predictive analysis, encourages savings, as well as enhances the quality of items and enterprise efficiency. These factors are crucial in the integration of IIoT.
Technological and economic advantages of IIoT and industrial automation:
- constant interaction among objects, immediate response to requests and adjustments of manufacturing cycle;
- simpler data operations;
- expenses for raw materials and energy are reduced due to the stable control;
- predictive analytics allows to avoid defects and cut production idle hours;
- monotonous work is performed by machines instead of people, providing the high level of productivity;
- as the result, volumes and scales of manufacturing grow;
- increasing competitive ability of enterprise;
- company’s image and customers’ loyalty are improved.
IIoT advances manufacturing: success stories
The new industrial age is already altering factory and plant operations. Conventional manufacturing will fail the competition without adapting to innovative business trends.
Reincarnation of Harley-Davidson
The integration of Industry 4.0 methods became a salvation for Harley-Davidson. Established in 1903, the company survived two world wars and faced the crisis in 2007. After the integration of IIoT technologies, its production straightened out and the stock value skyrocketed sevenfold. management team completely reequipped operating platforms and installed sensors to control each stage. As the result, the manufacturing cycle decreased from 21 days to 6 hours! The brand fostered customer loyalty using a personal approach to orders.
Rolls-Royce is for innovations
Rolls Royce’s subsidiary producing equipment for aviation, ships, and energy sector, integrated Industrial Internet technologies into its factories. The IIoT platform made manufacturing management more efficient.
The company did not stop there and started supplying its aircraft engines with controllers to conduct preventive maintenance. Later, sensors were reprogrammed in order to change engine operating modes if necessary for fuel saving. Company’s customers, airlines, save up to 250,000 USD from one plane per year. The head of IIoT department at Rolls-Royce says that the company keeps integrating new technologies into production.
Smart elevators by ThyssenKrupp
Germany-based ThyssenKrupp AG utilizes an IoT platform by Microsoft (Azure IoT Suite). Its elevators are equipped with sensors combined in a single system. The technology allows to control everything from an elevator motor temperature to a door opening speed. Machine learning tools embedded in Azure allow engineers to predict and prevent unexpected errors in elevator operation.
Forecasts for Rockwell
Rockwell Automation is one more Microsoft’s client applying the Azure IoT platform. Software predicts equipment failures, monitors performance in a real time mode, and upgrades processes. It helps the company to reduce idle hours and maintenance expenses and to increase productivity.
Manufacturing future is online
The Internet of Things changes human life, while the Industrial Internet of Things changes the production structure. Not only do internal working processes alter, but also industrial sectors. It leads to economic benefits and technological discoveries. According to experts, IIoT will enter all industrial sectors within several years.
Klaus Schwab, Founder of the World Economic Forum, states that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will transform our life and us. We can see the reformation of production, economy, and even society. The future will show what other transformations we can face.
Learn more about the IoT use cases at the international Internet of Things Forum held in Moscow on March 27.