In 2015, we’re well past the age of the Industrial Revolution, and many argue that we are well past the tipping point for the Information Revolution too. So what’s next?
How about the Informed Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0.
The German government first starting championing “Industry 4.0” in 2011, as part of a movement to modernize German manufacturing. The previous stages of industry are:
- Industry 1.0: Water/steam power
- Industry 2.0: Electric power
- Industry 3.0: Computing power
- Industry 4.0: Internet of Things (IoT) power
But by any name, Industry 4.0 affects all manufacturing industries competing today. Once upon a time, machines operated without data feedback or HMIs. That era is gone. Yet many manufacturers haven’t fully adapted to the world of interconnectivity within their plants and businesses.
There are many elements to connectivity in modern manufacturing. Every machine and every process can be measured and interpreted for efficiency, energy, and cost, using in-house servers or the cloud.
Here are just a few of the major trends underpinning the Industry 4.0 paradigm:
The Internet of Things
With the Internet of Things, or IoT, previously discrete machines can report real-time data and even produce intelligent alerts when something goes awry. Old or new equipment can be embedded with sensors, software, or other forms of network connectivity, making it possible to monitor how a facility’s disparate parts work together.
Once you have all that data flowing in from the Internet of Things, analytics digests that information to be represented as useful feedback. Nearly every single function that exists in business operations can be a data set, and the mere collecting of that data can result in valuable insight with an immediate impact on your facility’s bottom line.
Using cloud storage and computing can make manufacturing IT leaner, scalable, and more adaptable, allowing a plant to focus to its core competencies and not a fast-changing technological landscape. The cloud also contributes to gathering and interpreting data from the Internet of Things in real-time, with increased access.
How the informed industrial age will evolve next is anyone’s guess, but these trends dovetail at just a few common questions: What do you know? How do you know? And what can you do with that information? That’s Industry 4.0, where information drives better manufacturing.
Our engineers can discuss your facility's needs and how OEE or panel fabrication fits into your manufacturing goals.
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- HMIs: The Main Point in Decision-Making for Operators