Today, industrialised nations are on the cusp of an intriguing change called Industry 4.0, a new beginning of sorts that is primarily been driven by the German industry, research, industrial associations. Paving the way for social, economical and technological revolution Industry 4.0 is expected to drastically change the landscape of industrial functioning. The coined term evokes the dramatic improvements the Internet of Things will bring about in engineering, production, and logistics processes in the future.
Developed nations across the world have until now been witness to three industrial revolutions, one that many experts opine has been disruptive in nature thus yielding higher productivity. Major strides towards an industrialized society can first be traced back to the innovation and extensive utilization of the steam engine. In the coming decades, rapid improvement of infrastructure was to provide the necessary impetus. Up until now, baby boomers and Gen-Y have most been influenced by the third wave which was largely dominated by automation, microprocessors and IT.
Decentralization of the production system: Now the Internet of Things is driving a major reorganization of industrial production: connecting machines, systems, work pieces, and products to create intelligent production systems which can control each other autonomously without manual intervention. And so, Industry 4.0 is seeking ways of helping industry achieve greater flexibility, robustness, and dynamism, while also dealing with greater complexity.
The traditional centralized model of factory organization is becoming more and more flexible and decentralized (smart factory). The production is based on active and passive connected objects, naturally communicating. All information about the products, machines, stock is available in real time and allows the dynamic optimization of the manufacturing. The increased flexibility, up to single piece production, enables the efficient production of customer tailored products. In first implementation the product tells the machines during its manufacturing which treatment is needs. Another important aspect is the linking-up of factories to form a production network that goes beyond individual companies. This horizontal integration allows huge improvements in productivity.
Reorganization for improved efficiency: Networked industry is a new chapter in global competition that would write the most efficient production. The advent of Internet of Things has been a catalyst of development as it aims to deepen the knowledge of the entire value chain. Possible is also an individualized production at significantly lower costs – not to mention a far more flexible order of processing.
To survive this competition, currently we have to work in two directions. On the one hand it is essential rather a requisite for the networked production that we detect, and analyze data in real time. On the other hand, it is imperative that we begin to think in terms of new business models. Constantly striving for improvements, the world of cyber-physics holds tremendous opportunities that allow the current industry to improve processes where the supply chain is enormous.
From processes that administer the minutest for the detailing, industrial production of the future would have smart products taking corrective measures that could help divert damages and where spare parts are replaced automatically. A particularly good position for organizations to compete, where companies are positioned equally as providers and users of networked production. Bosch supplies the engineering, development and testing of networked solutions. The Group’s domain expertise lies especially in software and hardware and in particular sensor technology in combination with a vast manufacturing domain know how. What is clearly emerging as first tell-tale signs of this experience is: The networked production of the future depends on the qualifications of the human factor. Increasingly specialization in software and superior knowledge about manufacturing processes is seen as a must. Companies should not wait for the next industry revolution, it must prepare.
Published in The Machinist (February, 2015)