The next, already the fourth industrial revolution is in full swing. After mechanization of production, the invention of electricity and the assembly line, and finally automation, the time has come to use the potential of the information provided by machines. Thanks to this, we have moved to intelligent production, where data tells us what to do.
The fourth industrial revolution is characterized by the use of information and communication technologies in industry and is referred to as “Industry 4.0”. It is based on the achievements of the third industrial revolution and is the next step towards production automation. It focuses on “harnessing” the power of big data, uses predictive analytics and artificial intelligence, as well as intelligent production.
Smart manufacturing — what is it about?
Smart manufacturing is a combination of various technologies and solutions that, implemented in the production ecosystem, help to optimize the entire production process, and thus increase overall profits. In this model, machines have a real influence on the decisions made because they are able to perform calculations beyond the scope of human resources.
The following are considered key technologies from the perspective of intelligent production:
- artificial intelligence,
- blockchain in production,
- Industrial Internet of Things,
- solutions for monitoring the condition of machines,
- cyber security.
In turn, the parties directly involved in this process are:
- product and solution providers, which include all companies involved in the development of products and services in the field of automation,
- suppliers or entities supporting IT solutions, the entire concept of IIoT and resource management, who help in building the control, monitoring and analytical infrastructure,
- telecommunications service providers that facilitate the smooth flow of data necessary for resource management.
Adequate visibility is essential
The global smart manufacturing market is predicted to grow from $ 157.3 billion in 2019 to $ 314.8 billion by the end of 2025, with an annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.26%.
Assuming that smart manufacturing is aimed at collecting and processing data that helps to make more informed decisions, their visibility is a necessary element driving the development of this market. Visibility is the engine of return on investment in manufacturing efficiency in this case, and Big Data and smart manufacturing have taken it to a whole new, more detailed level where data is delivered in real time.
Smart Manufacturing uses interconnected industrial sensors on the production line to track major equipment wear indicators, such as vibration levels, and then perform real-time data analysis on this basis. Thanks to better insight into their operation, shift managers and operators can make better, more informed decisions in real time, based on notifications about irregularities displayed on the phone, monitors and operator panels.
In turn, more accurate data and better analyzes make it much easier to diagnose the causes of each specific event or process in the production hall. Thanks to sensors that provide much more data on the level of operation of machines, we can have a much more accurate idea of when and what type of maintenance each machine requires, which translates into increased efficiency and quality while reducing costs.
Intelligent production and the Industrial Internet of Things
IIoT plays an important role in smart manufacturing, which includes machine learning and big data, using sensor data and automation. The main idea behind the IIoT is that intelligent machines are more efficient than humans at collecting, analyzing, and transferring certain types of data, and that manufacturers can spot irregularities and diagnose problems faster.
In the Industrial Internet of Things, every device, machine or process is connected with each other via data transmission systems. These are correlated with sensors that generate the relevant data and then send it to the cloud. After analyzing them and identifying anomalies in the production process, they are fed back to the systems for proper infrastructure maintenance.
This is also how the FitMech platform works, which automatically collects, analyzes and visualizes data from sensors installed on machines, and then take corrective actions, increasing production efficiency and thus the profitability of industrial plants. The emergence of such affordable, accessible and transparent connected systems is one of the biggest drivers of smart manufacturing.