The Digital Revolution: Industry 4.0 Production

With the dawn of the Industry 4.0 Production era, intelligent manufacturing processes and the Internet of Things (IoT) have entered the production operations of modern businesses. This makes the fourth-generation industrial revolution a crucial factor for your successful business.

Industrie 4.0

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Production in industry is not efficient enough - Industry 4.0 production as the next step?

The history of industrial manufacturing is a success story spanning more than 200 years. While the first new developments were still long-term and were accomplished in small steps, the dynamics of change have increased rapidly in recent years. These are the four epochs of the industrial revolutions that have taken place so far:

  1. Mechanization (first mass-produced goods in the early 19th century)

  2. Electrification (piecework and assembly line at the beginning of the 20th century)

  3. Automation (computers support production from the early 1970s)

  4. Digitization and networking (Internet of Things (IoT) and digital communication as the current process of evolution)

Entrepreneurs who do not adapt to modern Industry 4.0 production will quickly lose out to their competitors. This is because production in the industry is not flexible and efficient enough according to the previous standards.

In the fourth industrial revolution, machines, employees and production sites are digitally networked with each other. This takes Industry 4.0 production to a new level in order to improve manufacturing processes efficiently, purposefully and successfully.

What does Industry 4.0 production stand for?

Definition of future challenges and their benefits

When networking the two production factors of labor (employees) and capital (production sites and machines) with digital technology, it is crucial to create an overall efficient unit. Only if you succeed in smoothly optimizing the processes in Industry 4.0 production with the help of information and communication technology will your business be successful in the future.

To ensure that you achieve all of your goals, these areas in your company's environment must be analyzed precisely:

  • Modular production facilities

  • Flexible production processes

  • Customer-oriented products and solutions

  • Efficient logistics and intelligent machines

  • Use of information and data

  • Perfectly trained employees

  • Conservation of resources and environmental protection

Efficiency gains in Intralogistics

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Modular production facilities

The production of goods on long assembly lines is a relic of days gone by. Modern Industry 4.0 production is made up of flexible modules at the sites. Appropriately modified production processes can be carried out with these units without much effort to cope with new tasks

This makes it possible to produce small quantities efficiently or to react immediately to individual customer requests. These modern production facilities increase the productivity of your company and improve profitability.

Flexible production processes

In Industrie 4.0 production, there is often a supply chain in which several companies jointly create a finished end product. To ensure that there are no delays, everyone involved must contribute just in time.

Digitally networked systems can precisely check the individual work steps and immediately take countermeasures if problems arise. This ensures that there are no delays in production and that the machinery is always optimally utilized.

Customer-oriented products and solutions

In Industry 4.0 production, the cycles of goods manufacture are no longer determined exclusively by the manufacturer. Customers demand flexible solutions where they can still intervene in the manufacturing process during production. For example, it is an option to change production if a customer wants a self-designed part incorporated into the finished product

Conversely, with the technical requirements of Industrie 4.0 production, there is the possibility for the manufacturer to obtain usage data from goods that have already been delivered. With the experience gained by the customer, smart products provide digital signals to the manufacturer to improve the quality of the goods.

Efficient logistics and intelligent machines

In the context of Industry 4.0 production, there should be no standstill in your company. The digital communication of individual production units through smart networking ensures optimal processes. Ideal delivery routes within the production hall, for example, are determined independently using algorithms

Your machines detect problems that occur in good time before they come to a standstill and report, for example, that new material is required for further production

It is crucial that the flow of goods within your business is not interrupted and there is no idle time in production. Intelligent systems can detect upcoming maintenance work in the machinery even before a possible breakdown and react accordingly.

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Use of information and data

Monitoring manufacturing in terms of the effectiveness of machine running times and quality of goods is well possible in the context of Industry 4.0 production with the collection of digital data. By analyzing the data permanently collected during manufacturing, the efficiency of the production process can be seen immediately

As a result, processes can be changed or there are starting points for new products for the business model. In the case of smart goods that have already been delivered, for example, sensors can indicate to the customer when maintenance work should be carried out even before the product fails

Perfectly trained employees

To ensure that all production processes in your company run smoothly, it is essential to involve well-trained employees. Work steps within the scope of Industry 4.0 production are often complex and require pronounced technical understanding, also with regard to the digital processes between the individual machines. It is no longer just manual dexterity that is required but also extensive knowledge of communication technology and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Conserving resources and protecting the environment

In view of climate change and the need to protect the environment, sustainability issues are high on the agenda of both customers and manufacturers. Industry 4.0 production is thus called upon to select starting materials that meet these requirements. During the design of products, data-driven values are determined that consider the entire life cycle of the goods. Thus, even before the start of production, it is determined how the raw materials can be recycled at the end of their useful life or how they can be recycled in an environmentally friendly manner.

Production of the future

How do you stay successful in changing market conditions?

So far, you have a well-established product with a satisfactory market share that gives you a successful business with high margins and profits. Congratulations!

But the markets are changing rapidly, and the digitalization of your service and product offering is the key to future business success. If your business model has so far been based on a mechanically mature product with functional handling, a sensitive change may have already taken place here.

The trend is moving in this direction in many areas, including everyday consumer goods:

  • Data Generation

  • Digitization

  • Sensors

  • Software

  • Networking

This increases the demands on the goods produced, as goods equipped with the latest digital technology mean greater customer benefits and have better prospects of success on the market.

Sophisticated products require modern and flexible manufacturing

The importance of digital elements and software in the manufacture of everyday products will increase significantly in the future. Products with high-quality technical applications and a connection to the Internet achieve a higher added value for the manufacturer due to a more complex production. At the same time, these sophisticated goods require state-of-the-art production facilities in manufacturing.

Only with the help of Industry 4.0 production is it possible to serve larger series production and individual customer requirements at the same time.

Intelligently networked production plants are the winners of the future

High-quality products often require flexible solutions in production. Here, companies that already operate Industry 4.0 production have a clear advantage. According to studies, digitally networked manufacturers not only have advantages in designing flexible solutions for their customers

They can significantly expand their product portfolio through changing production processes and thus gain additional market share. By investing in future technology and the associated efficiency, these companies record sustainable successes in sales, revenue, and profit in the coming business periods.

Is it worth investing in machines and systems for Industry 4.0 production?

Already today, cooperation with suppliers and customers is an important factor to be able to survive on the market with one's own products. In the context of Industry 4.0 production, this trend will increase significantly. In-depth cooperation with value creation partners is the key to successful business. The permanently increasing level of digitalization in production demands state-of-the-art technology from all partners

If your company is not prepared to invest in technologies that meet the standards of Industry 4.0 production, you may quickly lose out to value creation partners in the supply chain for sophisticated products.

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Smart manufacturers & factories

What does a factory with Industry 4.0 production look like?

The basis for industrial production in a modern factory is digitally networked, intelligent systems that can control and carry out production in a self-organized manner with virtually no external intervention. These innovations include components that communicate digitally with the production facilities and detect any malfunctions that occur in advance. A malfunction is thus either prevented or a repair order is immediately issued independently. Self-driving transporters that perform logistics tasks autonomously roll through the production hall.

Sensor-controlled manufacturing as a sign of Industry 4.0 production

The machines and production facilities are sensor-controlled and programmed for the individual processes and can react immediately to changed conditions in real-time. The monitoring of the entire production process based on the production data is digitally controlled in a control center. This means that the process can be changed at any time if new decisions require it.

Flexibility of the plants and integration of important partners

In a modern manufacturing plant with Industry 4.0 production, for example, flexible series production can be combined simultaneously with individual batch sizes at the customer's request, without causing friction losses or even downtime. The option of including supplier companies digitally networked with the production site in the manufacturing process makes the entire value creation process even more flexible and efficient.

Intelligent production thanks to condition monitoring

An optimal condition is production plants that run trouble-free around the clock and deliver products of the highest quality as a result. Technical systems and machines in Industry 4.0 production are able to provide digital data to ensure ongoing condition monitoring. By recording and measuring physical variables such as:

  • Evaporations

  • Noise

  • Temperature

  • Vibrations

by sensors, it is possible to collect and immediately evaluate the data digitally. Based on the results obtained, forecasts regarding possible failures, upcoming maintenance work, or the end of the life cycle of the production plant can be determined.

Embedded Systems - Processors for Intelligent Production Systems

In almost all areas of life, we encounter embedded systems in the form of microprocessors or a small computer, which usually perform important functions invisibly. We are familiar with these systems from:

  • Cars

  • Television sets

  • Mobile phones

  • Washing machines

However, many of these microprocessors are also installed in modern machines and technical systems. The main tasks of these little helpers are the regulation, control, and monitoring of important functions.

In the context of Industry 4.0 production, the Internet of Things is turning the previously isolated processors into a digitally networked unit. They can communicate directly with each other via the Internet and intelligently process the data they generate themselves. Additionally, installed sensor technology complements and expands the possibilities in the Internet of Things, a modern production plant.

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Modern intralogistics thanks to efficient monorail systems

Due to ever shorter manufacturing cycles, time sequences on the production floor have become a precious commodity. An efficient monorail system makes it possible to design your production capacities flexibly. Depending on your needs, the number of shuttles used can be determined at will

The highly sensitive sensor technology detects dangers and ensures shock-free transport of sensitive goods even in complicated curves. At the same time, they can process the workpieces during transport and supply them with energy to carry out production steps during the actual transport. This turns transport time into additional production time.

Networked systems

Fast and efficient decisions in the Internet of Things

The core message for networked systems as a revolutionary development of Industry 4.0 production are the terms networking and self-control. In the past, technical information about production systems and machines was collected by humans and then evaluated. As a result, delayed measures were taken to optimize processes.

In Industry 4.0 production, all technical systems and machines, as well as the goods they produce, are equipped with sensors. These communicate permanently with each other and optimize processes independently. Through the connection to the Internet, these networked systems can also exchange information digitally with connected departments of your company.

  • Production

  • Development

  • Sales

  • Customers

  • Suppliers

are connected to each other via the Internet of Things and can query information at any time or even intervene in ongoing production processes.

Intelligent control with digital networking improves your production

Digitally networked machines with high-performance sensors are a hallmark of Industry 4.0 production. They control themselves and can make correct decisions independently. For example, a production system knows exactly how much material is still in the warehouse. If the stock status is critical, new parts are automatically ordered from the supplier immediately. Another example from practice is when a customer's designer has a change request for a special series at short notice

The intelligent factory immediately finds its own way to implement the changed ideas.

One characteristic of the smart factory is the change from central control of production to self-management of manufacturing by intelligently networked machines. Not only are individual commands executed by robots according to the same scheme. Thanks to networking via the Internet of Things, each production unit is able to make and execute decisions independently. The machine knows exactly where the required components are located and also knows the logistics processes within the room.

The Internet is the basis of digital production processes

For the communication of all partners involved in production to work, items such as:

  • Components

  • Materials

  • Stocks

  • Finished goods

  • Production equipment

  • Machinery

  • Transport vehicles and logistics

must be equipped with RFID tags or sensors on the machines, for example. This is the only way to enable digital communication between them via the Internet. This complex challenge requires a powerful Internet of Things. The basic prerequisite for even more precise and faster communication is currently being installed worldwide with the new 5G mobile communications standard.

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The digital twin as an alternative for optimized production processes

In connection with Industry 4.0 production, the LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Networks) standard has become established in industry, with which a wide variety of data can be transmitted wirelessly. Here, production processes are digitally replicated and a "digital twin" is created in the process. This makes it possible to digitally simulate ongoing manufacturing processes and to initially make changes only virtually.

Conclusion

The fourth-generation digital revolution has now reached the production processes in industry and business. In order for you to be able to produce high-quality goods for your customers, intelligent production processes with digitally networked machines and systems have become indispensable. Industry 4.0 production involves modular production facilities and flexible manufacturing workflows so that smart machines have the ability to generate customer-focused products and solutions

Only smart factories are prepared, with the help of sophisticated sensor technology, RFID tags, and the Internet of Things, to communicate with each other at any time and to optimize processes independently permanently. This will enable you to successfully shape your business in the future.

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