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What Makes A Factory Smart?

April 4, 2017

The majority of us own a smart phone. Why not make our Industry Smart too?

As technology keeps improving and is implemented into the industrial world, Industry 4.0 is starting to play a prominent role.

As we look back at the Industrial revolution we consider, first generation of using mechanization, water power and steam to produce energy.

We then had our second coming with the use of electricity for mass production, and assembly line.

Thirdly, we have the revolution of using computer and automation in the industrial applications.

Industry 4.0 is being introduced as the Fourth Industrial Revolution with the use Cyber physical systems where computer and automation comes together in a new way, where robotics are remotely connected to computer systems equipped with machine learning algorithms that can learn and control the robotics with minimum human interaction.

The term “Industrie 4.0” was originated from a project in the high-tech strategy of the German government, which focus on the computerization of manufacturing. Industry 4.0 has also been called “smart factory”, in which the cyber-physical system monitor the physical processes of the factory using big data analytics or cloud computing to help identify any defects and production failures, thus enabling prevention, increase productivity, quality. The physical systems becomes Internet of Things (IoT), communicating and cooperating both with each other and with humans in real time via wireless web.

This is a list that would make a factory be considered Industry 4.0

  1. Interoperability- Machines, devices, sensors and people that connect and communicate with one another.
  2. Information transparency- The system creates a virtual copy of the physical world through sensor data in order to review the information a lot easier.
  3. Technical assistance- Both the ability of the systems to support humans in making decisions and solving problems and the ability to assist humans with task that is difficult or unsafe for humans.
  4. Decentralized decision-making- The ability of cyber-physical systems to make simple decisions of their own and become as autonomous as possible.

Challenges in implementing and adopting an Industry 4.0 model are:

  1. Data security- Issues are increase due to implementation of new systems and can be troublesome for IT security.  
  2. Reliability and Stability of cyber-physical communication.
  3. Loss of human jobs, when new automations are introduced.
  4. Power Outages that would interfere with communications.

The idea of having Industry 4.0 machines self-diagnose and predict future failures based on all the data being collected can make us field technicians more aware of what is needed to repair the machine as rapidly and efficiently as possible.