The transition into Industry 4.0 has begun, how will your operation adapt?

The transformation has begun, and manufacturers have much to gain. Industry 4.0 is considered the new technological renaissance characterized by the digitization of manufacturing and the increasing digital connectivity of product, process, and factory. These are surely exciting times, but, with all new technology and innovative practices come a new set of implications. How will your operation adapt to the transition of Industry 4.0 without hindering plant reliability?

Plant reliability is an essential factor in quality management, for ensuring customer satisfaction by minimizing production downtime. Buzzwords linked to Industry 4.0 like “AI,” and “Automation” bring to light questions associated with its changing manufacturing processes and operations. How will the new manufacturing trends of Industry 4.0 implicate plant reliability for better or for worse? How can manufacturers mitigate the transition to come out ahead?

Industry leaders are already adapting their practices to fit the new direction of the industry. An article from IndustryWeek indicates trends that will likely be adopted by leaders as of this year. Some of these manufacturing trends include:

– Taking advantage of the Internet of things (IoT)
– The integration of COBOT production

Along with these new trends emerging, industries are expressing, and investing considerably in the capabilities of AI and improved automation. Let’s take a quick look at all of these trends, try to understand both their benefits and implications to plant reliability, and try to develop some tactics to ensure your company experiences a smooth transition into the new technological era with little hiccups.

 

Trend #1: Industry taking advantage of the Internet of things (IoT)

The Internet of things is described by Forbes as “devices that collect and transmit data via the internet”. IoT will prove beneficial to predictive maintenance and plant reliability by enabling equipment to perform self-maintenance and by alerting workers when machinery malfunctions occur. This trend will save time and money by reducing material cost and downtime along with other expenses, including maintenance planning.

Through an interconnected network, plants will also benefit from self-optimizing production. Interconnected supply chains and factories will initiate automatic adjustments that improve efficiency and minimize waste.

Through smart warehouses, there will be automated inventory management. These management systems will revolutionize the way manufacturers collect data and process the statuses of their inventory and supply chains. This function will be necessary for (JIT) delivery and for the food industry to ensure food is shipped out before it starts deteriorating.

Businesses and customers will now be able to track the condition of their inventory while on its journey from the warehouse. This function, in turn, will enhance practices such as Just in time delivery and inventory utilization while improving response time.

While all of these attributes provided by IoT will benefit plant reliability significantly, it is important to recognize some vulnerability associated with it. If all of the machinery in operation becomes reliant on such technology, there is a danger that your plant reliability will become less controlled by management, technicians and staff — and more in the hands of network infrastructure/providers. What will the cost be for data usage, and how much data will be used by IoT? How will downtime be affected when a network goes down? Before companies invest too much into this trend, they should consider how much they are willing to have their processes reliant on IoT.

Trend #2: The integration of COBOT production

Safer collaborative robots will start to replace bulky industrial robots. These COBOTS are more reliable, smarter and less expensive than the traditional industrial robotics.

As described in Simutech Multimedia’s post titled “COBOTS: Coming Soon to a Factory Near You”  COBOTS or collaborative robots, are a new generation of robotics that can act cooperatively with their human counterparts to revolutionize manufacturing. They are specifically designed to work alongside humans and interact with them. They serve as assistants in complex tasks that can’t be automated. According to iscoop.eu, the use of collaborative robots (COBOTS) is expected to grow at astonishing rates in the next few years.

COBOT systems will be very beneficial in assisting workers safely in repetitive and sometimes dangerous tasks. According to Financial Times, the next generation of COBOT systems are designed to interact with the worker, meaning they often have heightened sensory technology. For example, If your arm gets in the way, a COBOT will stop its trajectory. This example shows the value that a safer, smarter COBOT brings over the traditional robot.

With the increase in COBOT adaptation in plant operations, there will be value in having staff trained in the specifics of troubleshooting so workers can understand electrical malfunctions and how to fix collaborative robotic issues. Because of the general assumption that COBOTS are safe to use, It will be particularly important to recognize the warning signs of a COBOT that is breaking down, possibly becoming unreliable for a dangerous task

Utilizing Troubleshooting

Training staff in troubleshooting is a practice that will prove advantageous for businesses adapting to trends in Industry 4.0. The technological renaissance will create a new and intimidating environment for manufacturers unequipped to handle the technologies associated with IoT and COBOTS. Train your staff to be proficient in troubleshooting and give them the tools to handle the harsh machinery malfunctions of Industry 4.0.

Get started with Simutech Multimedia’s award-winning electrical troubleshooting simulation system today!

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