Intouch Blog | Industry 4.0 and Why Automation is Essential

Intouch Blog | Industry 4.0 and Why Automation is Essential

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Industrial automation involves utilising controlled or computer-controlled systems to carry out tasks typically performed by humans. This automation enhances production efficiency, reduces error susceptibility, and delivers higher-quality products. In this blog, Intouch Monitoring talks about how scalable MES solutions speed up Industry 4.0 use and enhance manufacturing efficiency.

Industry 4.0, also referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, marks a new phase in manufacturing characterised by the integration of automation, advanced technologies, and data to establish “smart factories”. At the core of this evolution lies automation, which plays a pivotal role in enhancing industry efficiency, precision, and adaptability.

Industrial Revolution Origins

The inception of the First Industrial Revolution can be traced back to the 18th century with the invention of the steam engine. This catalysed advancements in manufacturing aided by the introduction of hydraulics and pneumatics. The Second Industrial Revolution unfolded in the 19th century. This was marked by widespread electrification that led to the implementation of assembly lines incorporating basic control techniques.

Subsequent decades saw the emergence of more sophisticated control systems like Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), enhancing precision and repeatability in manufacturing processes. The Third Industrial Revolution, which began in the 1960s, was primarily driven by advancements in computing technology. This revolution evolved gradually over the next four decades. Surprisingly, many companies remain entrenched in the paradigm of Industry 3.0 and breaking free from this status quo is essential to propel operations into the 21st century.

In the era of Industry 4.0, automation transcends traditional PLC-controlled systems to embrace more advanced and integrated technologies. These include artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, and Big Data. Discussions about Industry 5.0 are already underway, envisioning further integration of Blockchain technology, Generative AI, and achieving true harmony between humans and robots.

Society has transitioned from fearing automation to embracing technology, recognising that a fusion of human creativity and robotic productivity represents the path forward. Just think about how you use ‘Alexa’ or other voice recognition in your everyday lives.

AI and IoT play a key role in new forms of automation. Artificial intelligence, through machine learning, allows machines to “learn” from experience, adapt to new information, and perform tasks that were previously reserved for humans.

IoT allows industrial devices and machines to collect and analyse data in real time, leading to increased efficiency, faster production, and waste reduction.

Benefits of Industry 4.0 and automation – improved efficiency

The main benefit of automation in Industry 4.0 is a significant increase in production efficiency. Machines can work around the clock, without the need for rest, which translates into greater output.

Moreover, thanks to the analytical capabilities offered by AI and IoT, production processes can be continuously monitored and optimised, leading to waste reduction and product quality improvement.

Despite many benefits, automation in Industry 4.0 also brings certain challenges. It requires significant investments in new technologies and retraining of employees to effectively work with and manage advanced systems. There are also issues related to data security and privacy that need to be carefully considered and managed.

Automation is becoming an increasingly important component of Industry 4.0, contributing to increased efficiency, and cost reduction, and enabling greater innovation and creativity. Despite the challenges that automation brings, its role in the future of industry is undeniable.

Embrace Automation – Enable Higher Performance

For many companies, there is a level of trepidation associated with advances in automation. Given the vast number of solutions available today, coupled with lots of savvy marketing, the choices in moving forward cause enough confusion that many key stakeholders are putting off the decision-making processes. Hence, companies, especially those that don’t have deep pockets and endless resources, risk being left behind or uncompetitive.

The move to Industry 4.0 is not difficult, however. Data, communication, and security standards have become embedded in modern manufacturing and following basic guidelines allows manufacturing operations of all sizes to play on a level playing field.

Here at Intouch Monitoring, we have developed an MES solution that is completely scalable and the first phase of it can be up and running within a few days. The concept is simple: start by connecting to a few critical machines on your shop floor, collect and analyse basic operational data, and make data-driven decisions that ensure production is optimised to meet changing demands. The resulting improvements are rapid and provide a fast and easy justification to scale the installation to include additional equipment and functionality within a matter of weeks. And it doesn’t need to be price-prohibitive.

The beauty of such systems is that they are quick to set up and rapidly identify process bottlenecks on production lines. As the benefits are realised, so too is the scale of deployment, resulting in connectivity to additional machines and enterprise business systems. Ultimately, the aim is to empower manufacturing organisations with an end-to-end supply chain monitoring solution that is completely agile and excels in efficiency.

We offer a free no-risk trial of our software platform, allowing companies to see tangible results before making a longer-term commitment.

Read more from Intouch here.




Intouch Monitoring
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