“Industry 4.0” is one of those buzzwords that is as exciting as it is misunderstood. We can all agree that it’s the future of manufacturing—now, we just need to agree what it is, what it means and what it can do.
Let’s cut through the hype and dispel the myths and misunderstandings. Here, you will find a concrete definition of terms, as well as advice on making the most of Industry 4.0 technology with real-time operational intelligence.
What is Industry 4.0?
Industry 4.0 is the increasing automation, connectivity, and data-based intelligence in manufacturing. This is not simply automation or the use of sensors—those technologies have been around for decades. Rather, Industry 4.0 is defined by the vast amounts of information generated by the technology.
“What we are really talking about is at the core of smart manufacturing. Industry 4.0 means people will be getting the right information to the right place at the right time,” says Peggy Smedley, President of Specialty Publishing Media and digital transformation expert.
Smedley adds, “Manufacturers are leveraging the IoT (Internet of Things), including wireless networking and sensors to collect machine data and enable predictive maintenance, and things like 3D printing, robots and cobots on the factory floor, machine learning and AI (artificial intelligence), 5G, digital twins, and data analytics to help improve production, uptime, and, ultimately, the bottomline.”
What is digital transformation in manufacturing?
Digital transformation in manufacturing is the implementation of Industry 4.0 tools. The technologies driving digital transformation in manufacturing are Industry Internet of Things (IIoT) devices, AI, machine learning, and similar advanced tools. These enable what is known as smart manufacturing.
What is real-time operational intelligence (RtOI)?
Real-time Operational Intelligence (RtOI) is the next generation of manufacturing digitalization intelligence. It connects Industry 4.0 tools and practices and enables manufacturers to instantly transform their operational data into real-time, actionable insights that are accessible at all times.
RtOI systems continuously collect shop floor data from multiple sources, including machine sensors, IIoT devices, and even employees to provide a 360-degree view of factory operations. This data is aggregated into a central repository that can be accessed and acted on anywhere in the world by any qualified person.
The benefits of real-time end-to-end visibility
The benefits of RtOI have the potential to be nothing short of revolutionary in and of themselves, says Smedley. “We are witnessing concepts and ideas that are bringing about a once-in-a-generation value proposition that will deliver significant enhancements in cost savings, capacity, and asset efficiency,” she says. “Simply, manufacturers across the globe are taking advantage of connectivity, automation technologies, and digitization, which is creating a major revolution in the business of manufacturing.”
Henrik von Scheel, speaker, futurist, and Industry 4.0 originator, echoes this sentiment. He says that among the benefits for manufacturers are: “increasing production capacity and reducing material losses, improving customer service and delivery lead times, achieving higher employee satisfaction, and reducing environmental impact.” These can be achieved by implementing an RtOI system that grants manufacturing leaders a 360 degree end-to-end view of their manufacturing operations.
Smarter preventive maintenance
One outcome of immediately actionable insights is a shift from schedule-based preventive maintenance—or worse, reactive maintenance—to proactive preventive maintenance. When a problem in a machine is detected early, an alert can be sent to the appropriate person who can then initiate corrective action.
Oftentimes this corrective action can be done while the machine is still operational, sidestepping the need to cease operations for maintenance and avoiding shutdowns due to machine failure.
Higher production efficiency
Another major benefit of RtOI is the ability to fine-tune production efficiency. When machine sensors are integrated into a centralized data collection system, workflows can be automated based on precise measurements. This removes the need for inefficient human involvement in many parts of the manufacturing process.
The real-time nature of an RtOI system also means product quality is improved, because mistakes are caught as they happen instead of during inspection after a full production run. When mistakes caused by human or machine error are caught immediately, uptime is increased and product quality is improved. In fact, it is possible to achieve 85% OEE with an RtOI system.
Cost savings and increased revenue
Taken together, these technologies can make a substantial difference in a business’ bottom line. During the production process, factories can save money, conserve resources and reduce waste. After the production process, more revenue can be generated due to the ability to produce more units with fewer defects. “These gains,” von Scheel says, “can fundamentally transform a company’s competitive position.”
RtOI is the future of Industry 4.0
The future of smart manufacturing is the harnessing of manufacturing data through smart analytics tools. “With vast amounts of data and the power of analytics,” says Helen Yu, Founder & CEO of Tigon Advisory Group, “leaders should be able to better manage proactively and in real-time.” This can only be achieved with a system that collects data from all sources across the manufacturing process into a central repository. With a single source of truth, you can make smarter decisions faster.
Matics is the premier RtOI solution
Manufacturing leaders who implement RtOI systems ahead of their competitors will gain a decisive competitive advantage. They will be able to produce more with the same resources and adjust faster to market demands and conditions. The companies that have already implemented Matics’ RtOI solution have shown impressive results, From a 30% increase in OEE to greater efficiency and cost savings.
If you are interested in learning more about how the Matics RtOI solution can benefit your company, request a demo today.