The fourth industrial revolution, dubbed Industry 4.0, holds much promise in addressing the inefficiencies in traditional manufacturing through the application of disruptive technologies. According to Kiran Raj, disruptive tech analyst at GlobalData, Industry 4.0 is simply the next phase in the digital transformation of manufacturing through the use of data exchange techniques, advanced technologies and flexible automation for increased efficiency.

Raj says that an analysis of GlobalData’s Disruptor Tech Database reveals a number of technologies crucial to transforming industrial manufacturing. These include big data and analytics (BDA), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), cloud computing, additive manufacturing (3D printing) and augmented reality (AR). Others are advanced robotics, digital twinning, simulation, cyber security, artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain.

“BDA plays a remarkable role in the manufacturing environment by collecting and analysing huge volumes of data coming from management systems and sensors fitted to the production equipment. It frees up humans from tiresome and dangerous tasks, thereby increasing efficiency as well as safety,” Raj says.

“Mining giant Rio Tinto leveraged BDA and avoided the unexpected breakdown of its production vehicles, saving an estimated $2-million. Its so-called autonomous haulage system (AHS) has close to 200 sensors producing more than 4TB of valuable vehicle data per day, including exact location, speed and other real-time metrics, across the fleet of 900 AHS’s.”

He adds that from product prototyping to mass production of custom tooling, the advancement in 3D printing is “phenomenal” and is opening up numerous possibilities for production. German carmaker Volkswagen became the first manufacturer to be ready to use the latest 3D printing technology for mass production in the automotive industry. The technology, named HP Metal Jet, has been proved to increase productivity up to 50 times compared to existing 3D printing methods.

“Industry 4.0 can empower building what many refer to as ‘smart factory’. This has benefits to manufacturers as well as consumers, including enhanced communication, real-time monitoring, advanced data analysis and self-diagnosis,” Raj says.

“Ideally, a smart factory is flexibly automated and self-monitoring where machines, materials and humans communicate with each other, sparing workers for other productive tasks and ultimately optimising the design and production processes for elevated operational efficiency. While incumbents, such as Bosch, GE and Siemens, have been muscling to capture a sizeable share of Industry 4.0, many manufacturers are yet to consider serious investments. Given the benefits over threats, a wait and watch stance may risk their competitive position in the future of manufacturing,” he concludes.

Image credit: https://www.globaldata.com/manufacturers-not-adopting-industry-4-0-may-risk-falling-behind-the-curve-says-globaldata/


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