Is your business ready to embrace Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 is the integration of artificial intelligence (AI), machinery, data and communication. This creates a more efficient, automated and smart industrial ecosystem that links suppliers, distributors, partners and users. Industry 4.0 promises huge developments in edge-to-cloud computing, powerful analytics and adaptable systems that can be easily customised.

What does Industry 4.0 look like?

Industry 4.0 and the trend towards automation can be seen in technology including:

  • The Internet of Things (IoT)
  • The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
  • Cyber-physical systems (CPS)
  • Smart manufacturing
  • Smart factories
  • Cognitive computing
  • Cloud computing
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Crucial to Industry 4.0 is the integration of sensors which are used at every stage of the manufacturing process to aid machine-to-machine (M2M) communication. With the inclusion of sensors, simple, ordinary devices can become smart devices with increased capabilities enabling real-time communication without human intervention. Industrial control systems will increase in complexity and will be distributed more widely to allow for improved flexibility, accuracy and precision in process control.

In manufacturing, every production line consists of a number of machines featuring multiple sensors that feed data into a central control system or to the cloud. Making sense of this data is where the challenge lies as systems detect issues, respond appropriately and then send an alert to the user. As machinery becomes smarter, so too will its response in identifying the issue and potentially rectifying it without user intervention. Some smart systems are already producing many of these benefits.

By 2025, Industry 4.0 is expected to generate close to $1 trillion in economic value. Through Industry 4.0, large manufacturers are becoming more streamlined, efficient, agile and are seeing improved production outputs and increased sales. However, to unlock the true potential of this revolution, all businesses along the supply chain must adapt and implement a digital mindset.

Tom Kelly, Executive Director & CEO Automation Alley

4 solutions from leading brands that will bring you closer to Industry 4.0

1. Building a Digital Enterprise with Siemens

By integrating and digitalising business processes, manufacturers are able to analyse their production facilities and products whilst in use and can then feedback insights to optimise the value chain. Digitalisation enables businesses to master the challenges of industry by increasing flexibility and efficiency, improving the quality of products and reducing the time to market.

Siemens offers a holistic approach to help companies leverage the potential of Industry 4.0 and to digitalise their business processes regardless of sector. This approach offers end-to-end solutions for both discrete and process industries through automation and industrial software, industrial communication, industrial security and industrial services.

With Siemens, manufacturing companies can benefit from the Digital Twin virtual model of a product or production plan that enables users to predict behaviour, optimise performance and implement insights. By using the Digital Twin concept, businesses can reduce the number of prototypes needed, accurately predict product performance and ensure that products meet customer expectations consistently.

2. Integrating the “NEAR” factory and increasing efficiency with Omron

Omron suggests one way to increase productivity and respond to changing market demands: the creation of a “NEAR” factory.

A “NEAR” factory is one that is:

Networked – A networked factory facilitates better connection between machines in a manufacturing line. This improves control and efficiency and enables manufacturers to manage and control data remotely.

Effective – Effective factories are those with a high Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE). Automotive industries often have a high OEE of 80+% however many production lines in other sectors often struggle to exceed 50% OEE. Smart, connected systems can identify and detect potential issues so that production lines can run more effectively and any maintenance can be scheduled.

Agile – As production needs change quickly, agile solutions are required by manufacturers to meet changing market demands. Systems must therefore be able to adjust production quickly to meet these changes.

Responsible – Manufacturers increasingly have growing responsibilities both environmentally in terms of the raw materials used and contractually with regards to delivering the right product, on time and in the correct quantity.

In manufacturing, every production line consists of a number of machines featuring multiple sensors that feed data into a central control system or to the cloud. Making sense of this data is where the challenge lies as systems detect issues, respond appropriately and then send an alert to the user to highlight the issue. As machinery becomes smarter, so too will its response in identifying the issue and potentially rectifying it without user intervention. Some smart systems are already producing many of these benefits.

3. Embracing IIoT intelligence and smart connectivity in factories with Moxa

Moxa’s smart factory provides an easy-to-implement architecture to facilitate the flow of data from devices to the factory to provide easy and secure data collection and analysis.

  • Connecting unconnected devices

Where legacy field devices are not connected to the main network, administrators often have to attend to undertake manual maintenance or consider potential upgrades of equipment. As this is time consuming, costly and inefficient, a comprehensive solution consisting of remote I/Os, industrial Ethernet switches and wireless devices is required to ensure seamless connectivity without the cost.

Moxa offers such a solution with the ioLogik series I/O, which ensures that all devices can be connected to the network and monitored effectively. I/O technicians are able to monitor the status of non-serial legacy equipment remotely using various communication interfaces and different I/O inputs to provide real-time machine data.

Once all devices are connected to the network, Moxa enables users to enhance connectivity in the factory in two ways:

  1. Moxa Turbo Roaming technology– enables uninterrupted wireless connections thanks to MIMO antennas that shorten handover times between access points and obstacles to milliseconds.
  2. AeroMag technology– creates easy, secure and error-free wireless configurations to optimise wireless performance.

  • IIoT intelligence

It is necessary to ensure reliable connectivity between operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) in order to optimise operational efficiency and to maximise profits. Moxa offers comprehensive industrial edge-to-cloud connectivity solutions that draw the OT and IT worlds together as part of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

Moxa also ensure that the implementation of their solutions is as simple as possible so that technicians and engineers can employ this technology with minimal disruption. With Moxa, a web GUI, a step-by-step wizard and mass configuration tools are included to avoid users having to configure each device individually. Further, to extend their IT infrastructure and enable OT data connectivity, Moxa’s IIoT edge gateways can be integrated with cloud services from leading brands such as Microsoft, AWS and Alibaba.

To find out more about how the IIoT can transform your business with Moxa, see the following video:

4. Preparing machines and systems for the IoT with Eaton

Industry 4.0 offers a great opportunity for small and medium-sized system engineers to enhance their machinery for the IoT. As new machinery is developed it is increasingly equipped with Ethernet-based fieldbus systems from the outset. This enables effective management of vast quantities of data, preparing modern machinery and systems for the IoT.

Eaton has integrated the OPC Unified Architechure Standard (UA) to enable communication between machines and the cloud via individual machine components. In this way, both existing and new designs can be made IoT-ready and integrated into smart factories in a cost-effective way. With the OPC-UA, simple communication is made possible between:

  • multiple machines (M2M)
  • machines and factory managers (M2Factory)
  • machines and the cloud (M2Cloud)

Ethernet communication is still very heterogeneous and the amalgamation of various machines made by different manufacturers usually results in substantial integration costs. However, OPC-UA is now establishing itself as a safe and reliable data exchange standard for manufacturer and platform independent industrial communication.

Chris Pack, Field Product Manager at Eaton UK.

Obstacles to preparing machinery and systems for the IoT include the cost of smart machinery as well as security concerns as a result of more complex systems and vast quantities of data. Eaton overcomes these concerns by encouraging businesses to use components that control sub-processes independently so that existing machinery can be updated and enhanced for Industry 4.0. In terms of security, Eaton’s intelligent wiring and communications system creates full closed, tamper-proof configurations so that security is continuous from components to the cloud.

Industry 4.0 and the technological advances that it promises are huge. Whilst sensors, the cloud and AI algorithms are all essential, it’s only when they are combined that real-world solutions can be realised. Industry 4.0 is the future and by adopting the concepts, systems and machinery advocated by these leading brands, businesses can become integrated with the IoT and ready to embrace everything that Industry 4.0 has to offer.

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