The agility and precision of manufacturing today has led to an emergent topic in the lexicon of efficient and smart manufacturing: Industry 4.0. Smart manufacturing is sophisticated, complex, and driven by the concept of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution comes after a succession of other changes since the bloom of the First Industrial Revolution. The first part of the revolution was steam power, followed by computerization, and then third, digitization.
Now Industry 4.0 has taken the torch from the Third Industrial Revolution. It uses artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and remote dashboards. These measure and monitor minutia from very specific data points, parlaying them into comprehensive dashboards that monitor and suggest performance, briefly, of how your industrial operations are working.
It's especially useful for things like lean manufacturing and for efficient and effective maintenance management, says McKinsey & Company in an October 2018 article:
“Advanced predictive maintenance (PdM), enabled by extensive sensor integration and machine-learning techniques, is one of the most widely-heralded benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The idea is certainly a compelling one, and it is encouraging companies in asset-intensive sectors to pursue investments in digital maintenance and reliability.”
Efficient Maintenance Management
Reliability is the name of the game as uptime is crucial and downtime is the Achilles heel of lean manufacturing.
What’s more, reliability is, to at least some extent, a function of the maintainability of all plants and equipment. Tracking the very specific data associated with maintenance has been a challenge in the past; Industry 4.0 is changing that.
Automation as a result of this Fourth Industrial Revolution enhances maintenance. It’s a new tool in the toolbox of plant and equipment managers, enabling them to accurately measure detailed data such as performance and wear of equipment and all its parts, affording visibility and control to maintenance status.
With established automation, connected devices, and remote monitored platforms, the age of the Industrial Internet of Things now allows real-time monitoring of equipment output and performance. Through information gathering and aggregation, voluminous performance and operational data may be captured and analyzed, via sophisticated business analytics, to allow for accurate prediction of when parts, machinery and other equipment may be ready for service or replacement.
More Efficient Output
Industry 4.0 is benefitting operations in more ways than one. Not only are things like maintenance and inventory more efficient, but so is output.
At Eaton’s Vehicle Group, they use the fruits of Industry 4.0 to work digital simulation applications and can run several scenarios by changing parameters, such as:
- The number of operators
- Work in process material
- Cycle times
- Operator standardized work
According to the company, the applications "are being used to define new manufacturing cells and assembly lines or to redesign existing ones. In most cases, the Vehicle Group is seeing productivity increase from 10 to 30 percent via higher production output or reduced amount of investment needed."
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3D Printing in Industry 4.0
When it comes to Industry 4.0, research abounds about its potential. According to findings from Infiniti Research, it's all about expanding the digital reach of manufacturers and the products they produce using a new network of connected devices; a complex interoperability between machines and people, with no specific geographic location necessary.
"Smart factories and Industry 4.0 have started transforming manufacturing in their early stages. It helps manufacturers extend their digital reach and sell new varieties of products and services. Industrial automation can increase productivity and bring down potential costs. Overall, industry 4.0 will help promote globalization and requires the development of the right digital capabilities." -- Infiniti
Stratasys recognizes that Industry 4.0 and connectivity has the ability to pave new paths, and has joined in this venture with the GrabCAD Software Development Kits (SDKs). GrabCAD SDK is a complete set of APIs, sample code, documentation and support, to customers and independent software vendors. The GrabCAD SDKs enable software developers to integrate additive manufacturing into the production workflow with:
- Machine monitoring
- Data collection
- Job programming
- Execution extensions.
In addition, the GrabCAD Software Partner Program is a growing ecosystem of Stratasys Software partners that help customers integrate with Stratasys technology and compete in the industry 4.0 marketplace.