Technology is constantly changing, and it tends to alter every corner of society along with it. New tech developments improve everything from healthcare to education and even farming practices. Even though technology impacts every sector of commerce, none benefits from it more than manufacturing.
Even though there are impressive new gadgets and software programs every day, now and then, there’s such a seismic shift in industrial practices and products that it’s considered a revolution. The latest industrial revolution, properly termed Industry 4.0, has made manufacturing safer, more efficient, and cheaper. Continue reading to see some of the real-world uses of Industry 4.0.
What is industry 4.O?
Even in the manufacturing industry, there are still people asking, “What is Industry 4.0?” In short, it’s the name given to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Industry 4.0 sounds much cooler, though, right?
The best way to explain Industry 4.0 is to say it’s the realization of what was once upon a time a figment of science fiction films. People thought it was something to behold over 40 years ago when robotics was first introduced to the manufacturing industry, but those robots could only perform certain preset functions. Now, robots are capable of learning on the fly and adjusting their processes accordingly in real-time.
Automation is the preeminent feature of The Fourth Industrial Revolution. Now, manufacturers automate everything from machining to the transport of materials. With automated guided vehicles (AGVs), you can program them to begin their processes with or without human presence. As you can see, artificial intelligence, automation, and big data all figure heavily in industry 4.0.
Industry 4.0 has made manufacturers more flexible.
One of the most exciting things about the First Industrial Revolution is that it presented the opportunity for the mass production of goods. As a result of companies exponentially increasing their production rates, custom goods became rare and expensive. However, in recent years, there’s been a boom in demand for custom goods, and meeting that demand is made possible by Industry 4.0.
When you have to switch gears to make different products or different versions of the same thing, it causes you to have to shut down your facilities to switch out machines. Often, you still have to pay employees for this downtime even though they’re not working. Talk about a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you can’t make a profit because you can’t make any products, and on the other hand, depending on the length of the shutdown, you may have to pay unemployment benefits.
With next-generation technologies like 3D-printing and augmented reality, you can greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to switch out machines to make custom products. Imagine having a hologram depicting the setup of your facility in real-time and space. For your setup crew, it would be like they’re in a virtual 3D blueprint of your factory—all they’ll have to do is install the real machines where the virtual ones are.
All hail the smart factory!
What if, while everyone was away from your manufacturing plant, your machines began talking to each other? Well, that’s happening in facilities all over the United States through the magic of the industrial Internet of Things.
If you thought the smart home was something, then you’ll love smart factories. Imagine a press working machine that’s able to tell you the screw pump is wearing down months before it actually happens. That’s the power of smart factories, the Internet of Things, and industry 4.0.
Machine learning is another AI-fueled development that’s forever changed the manufacturing industry. AI can gather data and interpret it on its own, but machine learning takes artificial intelligence to another level. Through algorithms, machine learning enables machines to collect and analyze big data and learn from and make decisions based on it.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is an exciting time full of new opportunities. With all of these technological developments and the Internet of Things keeping factories in tip-top shape, inefficiency may be a thing of the past.