Manufacturers move from manual labor through machine-dependent assembly lines to highly automated factories we see this trend today — and the industry evolves.
Several trends are merging to change production, often referred to as “Industry 4.0.” Let’s look at the seven key themes driving Industry 4.0. Manufacturers move from manual labor through machine-dependent assembly lines to the highly automated factories we are seeing more of today.
You’ve heard of the Internet of Things. Now there’s the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), where networked devices gather data to improve manufacturing processes.
Sensor data from production equipment may assist producers in evaluating many points. Starting with machine performance, improving maintenance, decreasing downtime, and even forecasting machine failure. So here’s the next substantial industrial trend.
5G & edge computing, the fifth generation of mobile data networks (5G), will allow manufacturers to link IIoT devices quickly. They exploit data collecting and processing inside them (edge computing). Manufacturers may construct a private 5G network on their premises for ultrafast communication speeds and greater data security.
Predictive maintenance uses sensor data and artificial intelligence (AI) to discover failure trends in equipment and components. The notion is that by knowing when a machine or a part is likely to break, producers can better maintain their equipment. And it’s not just about flashy new gear.
Siemens claims it has employed similar sensors on older motors and gearboxes. As a result, this gear can analyze sensor data to diagnose problems and rectify equipment before breaking. This demonstrates how manufacturers may use predictive maintenance on older machines.
A digital twin imitates any physical process or object and in manufacturing, a digital twin might mimic a new product’s dimensions. Consequently, it generates a digital clone of industrial equipment to test its performance under various situations.
The digital twin can even view and mimic a supply chain. By 2022, up to 70% of manufacturers may be employing digital twins. They will use them for simulations and assessments. Thus illustrating how disruptive the development of digital twinning might be.
Boeing has improved component quality by 40% using digital twins. A decade ago, Boeing’s then-CEO Dennis Muilenburg claimed digital twins would be the most significant driver of manufacturing efficiency increases.
Technologies like augmented and virtual reality will become more prevalent in manufacturing, improving product design and production planning, complementing human talents on assembly lines, and improving training.
Therefore, manufacturers will have additional trend possibilities as the metaverse expands.
Computers can now do activities formerly only performed by humans thanks to AI. So it makes sense for machines to do more production.
Automation can increase manufacturing productivity (devices don’t get weary), accuracy, and save costs. Consequently, we may see more totally automated or dark factories, where manufacturing occurs without direct human interaction.
Robots are a crucial facilitator of automation. However, automation makers did not design all robots to replace human labor. Automation designers made many robots to assist people. For example, robotic exoskeletons assist workers in moving larger pieces safely.
We also have intelligent, collaborative robots (cobots) built to operate with people.
Robots and cobots may help factories save money. Nissan used Universal Robots’ robotic arms in its Japanese motor manufacturing plants to assist in maintaining production times (mainly due to labor shortages). However, Nissan used cobots to assist with activities like installing engine intakes.
Manufacturers will increasingly be able to build things utilizing 3D printing processes, which require fewer resources and waste than conventional production methods. Consequently, some people think 3D printing will usher in a new age of customization because it eliminates the need for economies of scale. Plus, quick prototyping with 3D printing may spur creativity.
Furthermore, Airbus has been employing 3D printing for almost 15 years, making it a manufacturing pioneer.
The firm employs 3D printing trends for localized on-demand tooling fabrication like jigs and fittings.
With the trend of Web3 and distributed computing technologies like blockchains and non-fungible tokens, manufacturers will better monitor their supply chains and even automate many of the transactions. Therefore, automation designers will offer many future items using NFT digital certifications.
The rise of smart linked IoT devices is redefining how designers make things. In addition, also what things they make. Everything from vacuum cleaners to toilets now has “smart” versions, and the drive for intelligent items shows no signs of stopping.
So manufacturers will have to find new methods to provide consumers with the clever items they want. Moreover, people will increasingly choose recyclable, reusable, and eco-friendly things.
The throwaway mentality of the past is hopefully coming to an end; therefore, manufacturers will also have to consider this. Remember, all that glitters is not shiny.
Image Credit: Moose Photos; Pexels; Thank you!