We are now living in an era where computers and automation have come together in a completely new way. More and more the input from human operators is not a key necessity anymore since systems have evolved to be almost entirely independent through machine learning, algorithms and AI. This change brought by technology is often called the Fourth Industrial Revolution or the Industry 4.0 revolution and it has impacted the way businesses are done ever since.
The Industry 4.0 revolution is closing the gap between Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT). It is a multifaceted revolution made by some key ingredients such as IoT, test automation and digital twins, all of which are essential to combine the physical and virtual worlds.
The merging of traditional manufacturing and technological innovation has resulted in fast changes for the industry which is forcing manufacturers to either adapt quickly or fall behind of what has been called the Smart Factory. While there are some challenges in this transition, we can’t ignore the great benefits that come with it – increased test reliability and efficiency, cost reduction and improved product quality.
The first big step to immerse yourself in the Industry 4.0 is to really understand some fundamental pillars of this new reality that you can’t miss. So, what are the 5 fundamental things you need to know about the Industry 4.0 revolution to kick-start your journey?
Smart sensors make possible to convert input from the physical environment into data ready to be analyzed and they are made up of three elements: sensor, microprocessor and communications unit. These contrast with the traditional sensors where the values measured are interpreted entirely by humans. Smart sensors are interconnected via networks and use specific algorithms to analyze data.
This is an extremely important component of Industry 4.0. Smart sensors together with a special software and other technical components enable the responsive and agile processes that characterize Industry 4.0.
Industry 4.0 requires an interrelation between machines, devices and people. In order to achieve this, it is essential to have a vertical and horizontal integration between all aspects of the business. The vertical data integration encompasses manufacturing – procurement – supply chain – design – product life cycle management logistics, operations and quality. On the other hand, the horizontal integration includes suppliers – customers – key partners.
The nature of these integrations will definitely mean an update and upgrade in the existing equipment, networks and processes in your factory. Nevertheless, you also need to be able to incorporate new equipment, networks and processes into one integrated digital ecosystem such as a cloud ecosystem.
Long story short, data analytics techniques make possible to extract raw data and uncover patterns from which is possible to gain valuable insights. For this reason, a data service with strong analytics capabilities is the basis for a successful adaptation to the Industry 4.0. This will bring necessary improvements in communication technologies, processing power and data science which, consequently, will translate in other benefits for the factories, such as higher efficiency and uptime productivity, for example.
This wider connectivity happening inside factories is understandably raising questions regarding increased cybersecurity risks from internal and external actors which can uncover key information regarding intellectual property, manufacturing techniques, plant uptime and worker safety. It is important to understand that continuous cybersecurity improvement is a must in the world of the Industry 4.0 and organizations are embracing and developing this new cycle.
Adopting an Industry 4.0 approach will bring new developments to your factory: not only a significant investment in technology but also a cultural shift inside the organization. This will require strong leadership skills and the commitment to bring transformation into the picture.
And there you have! In a very simple and tangible way, this is what you have to consider to kick-start your journey in the Industry 4.0 and set your factory on the right path. A great first step in the right direction is to get familiar with the terms and pillars of Industry 4.0.
On another note, in case you want to keep yourself updated regarding the trends in packaging we have a blog post where we share with you the 10 sites and blogs to follow so you don’t miss anything that is happening involving packaging and Industry 4.0!