With 2022 Comes Robotics, Automation, and Machine Learning.

It’s Time to Go Industry 4.0, 

But Where Do You Start?

A good place to begin is being clear on what is meant by Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 describes the current (fourth) phase of industrial revolution. It’s represented by the integration of smart digital technology and manufacturing and it focuses on automation, machine learning and real-time data. This revolution is driven by the need to access real-time insights and information across value chains to improve processing efficiencies and make them more competitive.

Industry 4.0 has emerged from the evolution of and integration between several key technologies. A key example of this is the integration of Machine Learning Algorithms, Computer Vision Algorithms, and Robotic Hardware. The combination of these enables intelligent robots which can perceive, learn, and adapt.

Some Additional Terms & Concepts Explained

There are hundreds of concepts and terms that relate to IIoT and Industry 4.0, here are some foundational words and phrases to know before you decide whether you want to invest in Industry 4.0 solutions for your business:

  • Automation – The definition of automation is the use of machines and technology to make processes run on their own without manpower.
  • Cloud computing refers to the practice of using interconnected remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process information.
  • Cyber-physical systems (CPS), also sometimes known as cyber manufacturing, refers to an Industry 4.0-enabled manufacturing environment involving real-time data collection, analysis, and transparency across every aspect of a manufacturing operation.
  • Deep Learning is a class of machine learning algorithms centred around artificial neural networks. These neural networks vaguely approximate the neural connections of the brain and can be trained to learn patterns from several modalities of data; images, video, audio, text according to a predefined objective. Once trained, these models can uncover new insights from unseen data. There has been an explosion in deep learning research and applications over the past decade as we venture into a new deep learning era.
  • An ecosystem, in terms of manufacturing, refers to the potential connectedness of your entire operation—inventory and planning, financials, customer relationships, supply chain management, and manufacturing execution.
  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP): Business process management tools that can be used to manage information across an organization.
  • IoT stands for Internet of Things, a concept that refers to connections between physical objects like sensors or machines and the Internet.
  • IIoT stands for the Industrial Internet of Things, a concept that refers to the connections between people, data, and machines as they relate to manufacturing.
  • Large-scale Data Analytics refers to large sets of structured or unstructured data that can be compiled, stored, organized, and analyzed to reveal patterns, trends, associations, and opportunities.
  • Machine learning refers to the ability that computers have to learn and improve on their own without being explicitly told or programmed to do so.
  • M2M stands for machine-to-machine, and refers to the communication that happens between two separate machines through wireless or wired networks.
  • Real-time data processing refers to the abilities of computer systems and machines to continuously and automatically process data and provide real-time or near-time outputs and insights.
  • Robotics are automated machinery solutions which are used to perform dull or dangerous tasks.

Now that you have a better understanding of some of the core concepts related to Industry 4.0, let’s look at some of the benefits to be derived from embracing this evolution and implementing them in your manufacturing facility.

Benefits of Going 4.0

  1. Improved Productivity – you can do more with less!
  2. Improved Efficiency – a number of areas of your production line can have their efficiencies increased.
  3. Increased or Dedicated Knowledge Sharing and Collaboration – communicate regardless of location, time zone, platform immediately so that improvements can be shared across all platforms or decide what information can be shared and what cannot.
  4. Flexibility and Agility – it’s easier to amp up or down or add new products or one off products to the lines
  5. Makes Compliance Easier – Industry 4.0 technologies make it possible to automate compliance including track and trace, quality inspections, serialisation, data logging, and more.
  6. Better Customer Experience – faster problems resolution with an enhanced ability to trace and track lead to improved customer experience.
  7. Cost Reduction – through faster manufacturing, better use of resources, less down time, fewer quality issues, lower overall operating costs, and less waste.
  8. Innovation Opportunities – with greater knowledge of the manufacturing process, supply chains, distribution chains, business performance, and even the products you manufacture  you are able to better spot opportunities.
  9. Increased Profitability – with greater knowledge, improved efficiencies, less waste, better customer experiences, and more opportunities for innovation and improved competitiveness, the bottom line sees the benefit. 

Applications

Various sectors can benefit from Industry 4.0 specific deployment. Some of the key applications by industry include:

  1. Manufacturing
  • Data-driven Manufacturing
    • Data-driven robotics
  • Robots which perceive, learn, and adapt using Camera Vision
    • Adapting to different part variations
  • Connecting Industrial Automation Hardware with Predictive Analytics
  • Material Flow Tracking
    • Real-time Monitoring operation times and wait times
      • Statistical modelling
  • Adaptive Process Optimisation
  • Predictive maintenance
    • Detecting machine anomalies with acoustic or vibratory cues.
    • Predictive analytics from maintenance data
  • Camera quality inspection
    • Camera defect detection
    • Geometric Analysis
  1. Logistics
  • Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR’s) to move materials
  • Outdoor Autonomous/Semi-Autonomous Material Handling
  • Bin-picking, packing, sorting, or palletisation
  1. Mining
  • Asset tracking and optimisation
    • Asset monitoring (e.g. tracking the location and usage patterns of tools in workshop)
      • Predictive modelling
    • Aerial Inspection and analysis
      • Photogrammetry
    • Scene Analysis
      • Using cameras (fixed or mobile) to determine objects or obstacles in the scene.
    • Camera measurement of stockpile volumes

The applications of robots, automation, and machine learning are growing at an increasing rate.  Industry 4.0 has a great deal of potential – but is it right for your facility?

 

Who Is Industry 4.0 Right For?

How do you know when or if your business should invest in Industry 4.0? Here are some indicative factors regarding whether it needs to remain high on your priority list.

Integration of Industry 4.0 technology into your processes is likely amenable if your operational needs are reflected in the following list,:

  • You wish to gain detailed insights about the processes in your value chain, and interpret hidden details with clarity
  • You want to scale your supply chain
  • You want to increase the agility and resilience of your supply chain
  • You want to improve customer satisfaction and customer experience
  • You want to identify and address issues before they become bigger problems
  • You want to improve product quality
  • You want to boost efficiency and profitability in your operations
  • You want everyone on your team to have informed, up-to-date, relevant views of production and business processes
  • You want richer and more timely analytics about your industrial processes
  • You’re having a hard time recruiting to fill vacant jobs at your organization
  • You want better visibility across your supply chain
  • You want a consistent and flexible view of production and business operations tailored to specific areas or users in your organization
  • You want real-time insights that help you make better, faster decisions about your business each day

You’re in the market for the sorts of operational and competitive improvements and efficiencies that Industry 4.0, and specifically Robotics, Automation, and Machine Learning can provide, so what’s next?


Watch for Part 2 of this blog post series that delves into the next steps in this process.  It will make suggestions on where and what to start looking for in the way of expertise, how to secure the right support, how to prioritise your needs and what to consider prior to implementation.

Want to interpret the inner-workings of your operations from a new perspective?

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