The Promise of Industry 4.0: Why Companies Should Prepare for the Future of Smart ProductionDecember 1, 2017 No Comments
Featured article by Debbie Fletcher, Independent Technology Author
Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has the potential to revolutionize manufacturing, commerce, and even healthcare. Think smarter, more efficient factories. Supply chains and distribution networks revolutionized by real-time location data. Imagine more fault-tolerant systems for producing products, food, and power. This is the promise of Industry 4.0, and the transformation is already underway.
Factories, logistics, and utilities
At the forefront is manufacturing, which is a natural fit for smart production since that sector already relies on electronics and programmed process control (for example CNC lathes, industrial robots, and laser cutters). Smart devices which link the machinery to the cloud and mobile apps can further extend this automation and unlock a trove of valuable real-time data from any plant, anywhere.
And that is just the start of the long assembly line of potential benefits of smart production. Industrial machines which are both connected and outfitted with a full complement of sensors enables proactive, preventative maintenance by alerting service personnel to potential problems before the machines go down. Reduced downtime means higher uptimes, greater production volumes, less money lost to inactivity and a greater return on investment for capital equipment.
Workers too can benefit from the more precise environmental monitoring a swarm of connected devices can provide. Real-time data on temperature, humidity, dust, ambient light, and even hazardous fumes and gases from each area of the shop floor can keep workers safer and healthier.
IIoT delivers smart production and smart logistics
From more accurate and up to date inventory and freight tracking to electronic logging of truck driver shifts for safety compliance, smart devices can leverage the power of data to optimize logistics networks for increased efficiency and improved performance.
Lastly, smart production will reap benefits closer to home – literally. Smart meters can give homeowners hourly statistics on power usage and thus provide the insights they need to reduce their peak power consumption, reducing their own bill and relieving some strain on the electrical grid. Smart municipal water infrastructure can provide up to the second flow rate and other performance data from treatment plants, pumping stations, and even homes, aiding the rapid discovery and fixing of burst pipes and other water leaks before they result in flooding.
Does smart production offer more hype than hope?
It’s extremely difficult to ignore the hype around the Internet of Things, and there certainly has been a lot of buzz around IIoT as well. Perhaps that’s why many businesses still find themselves on the sidelines. If the data from a survey conducted by IoT platform company Seebo, is any indication, however, there’s solid business logic behind that buzz. As seen below in the following infographic, over half of the respondents say that the R&D and Product Innovation departments are leaders within their companies when it comes to exploring IoT. And the most popular business goal cited for embracing IoT? That would be increasing sales.
Taken together, these two data points suggest that compelling business value, not a desire to jump on the latest tech buzzword, is precisely what is driving companies to step into IoT. Thus, smart production should be seen as organic a transition in industry as the advent of interchangeable parts, plastic injection molding, and the assembly line.
Smart production is without a doubt the next industrial revolution, and the companies that embrace this new frontier will gain a considerable competitive advantage over those that don’t. Innovative new IoT platforms can deliver transformative value for every sector, providing businesses like yours a launchpad into the future of industry.
APPLICATION INTEGRATION, DATA and ANALYTICS , News, OPEN SOURCE, SECURITY, SOCIAL BUSINESS