Industry 4.0 Technologies

Industry 4.0 is a name given to the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. It includes cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things, cloud computing and cognitive computing. Industry 4.0 is commonly referred to as the fourth industrial revolution.

One such Industry 4.0 technology is the use of computer integrated manufacturing.

Computer-integrated manufacturing is used in automotive, aviation, space, and ship building industries. The term “computer-integrated manufacturing” is both a method of manufacturing and the name of a computer-automated system in which individual engineering, production, marketing, and support functions of a manufacturing enterprise are organized. In a CIM system functional areas such as design, analysis, planning, purchasing, cost accounting, inventory control, and distribution are linked through the computer with factory floor functions such as materials handling and management, providing direct control and monitoring of all the operations.

As a method of manufacturing, three components distinguish CIM from other manufacturing methodologies:

Means for data storage, retrieval, manipulation and presentation;

Mechanisms for sensing state and modifying processes;

Algorithms for uniting the data processing component with the sensor/modification component.

CIM is an example of the implementation of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in manufacturing.

CIM implies that there are at least two computers exchanging information, e.g. the controller of an arm robot and a micro-controller.

Some factors involved when considering a CIM implementation are the production volume, the experience of the company or personnel to make the integration, the level of the integration into the product itself and the integration of the production processes. CIM is most useful where a high level of ICT is used in the company or facility, such as CAD/CAM systems, the availability of process planning and its data.

Industry 4.0 technology is being widely adopted in manufacturing, helping manufacturers minimize waste through automation.

However, there are challenges when using computer integrated manufacturing to consider when implementing industry 4.0 technology.

There are three major challenges to development of a smoothly operating computer-integrated manufacturing system:

Integration of components from different suppliers: When different machines, such as CNC, conveyors and robots, are using different communications protocols (In the case of AGVs, even differing lengths of time for charging the batteries) may cause problems.

Data integrity: The higher the degree of automation, the more critical is the integrity of the data used to control the machines. While the CIM system saves on labor of operating the machines, it requires extra human labor in ensuring that there are proper safeguards for the data signals that are used to control the machines.

Process control: Computers may be used to assist the human operators of the manufacturing facility, but there must always be a competent engineer on hand to handle circumstances which could not be foreseen by the designers of the control software.

Once such industry implementing 4.0 technology is industrial engineering.

Industrial engineering is the branch of engineering that involves figuring out how to make or do things better. Industrial engineers are concerned with reducing production costs, increasing efficiency, improving the quality of products and services, ensuring worker health and safety, protecting the environment and complying with government regulations.

References: Wikipedia. 

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