Transforming into a ‘smart’ factory – Industry 4.0
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Industry 4.0 – a connected factory, empowering the workforce
Industry 4.0, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is transforming how factories operate as they become more digital, highly connected and increasingly intelligent.
These ‘smart’ factories are empowering the workforce to make more informed decisions while improving production efficiency. Companies that have started moving towards industry 4.0 are already seeing benefits that include lower operational costs, increase in productivity, improvement in quality and a safer working environment. According to a PWC global survey, by 2020, Industry 4.0 will bring a cost reduction of around 3.6% p.a. across process industries globally, totalling to around $421 billion in savings.
Data is at the heart of Industry 4.0. The latest industrial equipment is producing a greater volume of data and is communicating better with other machines and operators. These new intelligent systems can analyse data trends in real time to spot changes, make decisions and alert other machines and operators to take actions. For example, in preventive maintenance, real-time condition monitoring data of your equipment will enable you to have better optimised and more targeted preventive maintenance. This will reduce the risk of production downtime. Similarly, by monitoring variation/ deviation in the equipment performance through real time data analysis, you will be able deliver a more consistent quality of production.
With the richness of data provided by Industry 4.0, simulation and 3D modelling is transforming how you will operate plants of the future. You will be able to mirror the production plant in real time and virtually analyse its operation. You can then identify bottlenecks, simulate any changes and measure the potential increase in throughput before any changes are deployed. This will empower you to optimise your production efficiently and minimise disruption to live operations.
How to approach Industry 4.0?
Becoming an Industry 4.0 factory doesn’t need to be a massive capital project. You can achieve it with a series of upgrade/ improvement projects on existing facilities. Any new facility or installation, however, should be built as a ‘smart’ factory from the ground up.
The key point is that Industry 4.0 is not only about installing latest digitally enabled equipment and systems. They are just one part of the equation. In fact, the whole production process requires a redesign when installing these systems in order to improve efficiency across the entire operation and become a smart factory. This includes developing change management and workforce training programmes to ensure that your workforce is well equipped to operate the new system and is competent in analysing data to make more informed decisions.
We have been helping companies through different stages of their journey to becoming a ‘smart’ factory. This has involved designing and delivering automation solutions, installing new ‘smart’ facilities, designing the architecture of control systems, etc. A capacity upgrade or an equipment replacement project, in our experience, is always a great opportunity to rethink the production process from an Industry 4.0 perspective and take another step towards it.
Developing a roadmap to the ‘Smart’ factory
Industry 4.0 is defining the future of our factories by transforming them into data rich, efficient and intelligent operations. Forward thinking companies have started their journey towards the ‘smart’ factory that will deliver them a real competitive advantage.
The first crucial step in the process is to develop a roadmap, which identifies the different stages of the journey to becoming a ‘smart’ factory. You may already have some systems in place that will be part of the future ‘smart’ factory. You will also have plant upgrade projects in the pipeline. The roadmap can be defined to incorporate existing systems and planned replacements. It should provide you with a clearer direction and a timeline that you can focus on to become a ‘smart’ factory. Talk to one of our experts today to discuss your roadmap and become part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.