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Industry 4.0: Agility in production?

manufacturing parts for engine manufacturing production line Source: iStock/zhuzhu

Industry 4.0 is paving the way for a social and technological revolution that will drastically change the entire industrial landscape. Why 4.0? As since the 18th century, when the first Industrial Revolution began, it is the fourth wave of major technological changes. There is brand new video footage available from the German Engineering Association VDMA featuring different Industry 4.0 projects of players such as the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, Bosch, SAP, Siemens as well as Wittenstein. What this video shows: Industry 4.0 is a sophisticated approach changing the entire global value chain: communication, planning, logistics and production.

"Actually, Industry 4.0 is a paradigm shift. We aim to gradually decentralize centralized production control. Simplified, the work piece itself is giving the instructions, it addresses the robot directly: ‘Please paint me red’, or ‘I need grinding here and there!’ Developments that constitute a reversion in the logic of producing."
Prof. Wolfgang Wahlster, German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence

The video brings up some industry challenges

  • How can humans get better support for their work in the factory?
  • How do we connect multiple factories from different companies?
  • How do we share data in this market place?
  • How do software, sensors and RFID technology interact?
  • How does a self-aware-product communicate with its context?
  • How to handle big data?
  • How can mobile devices be integrated?
  • Which data security levels do we need?
  • Which impact does intelligent production have on factory design and construction?

What does Industry 4.0 mean for Bosch?

Let me give you a concrete example: In the future, components such as the Bosch Diesel injector will be produced in small quantities and in real-time. The production starts only after somewhere in the world a carmaker has actually placed a concrete order. The order form not only contains all information about technical requirements but also about destination and client. The information is embedded in the component and is capable of managing the production process, for example by ordering missing components or setting up the individual production parameters. Simultaneously, customers are kept informed of the current state of production. At the end, however, an employee makes sure that the product really fits into the engine of the carmaker and checks for errors that may have occurred. Hereby he is strongly supported by IT as he has much more information available about an individual object than any time before. If everything is fine the customer will be informed that the product is ready for shipment.

Intelligent sensors are able to determine the current location and the environmental settings such as temperature or humidity of the Diesel injectors. As they know the recipient data, they are able to find the destination almost by themselves. The system is supported by complex software that is constantly influenced by the Diesel injectors within the blue box. The software translates the information into clear and meaningful images. The packers receive permanent instruction on what to do and occurring errors are reported automatically. The new system aims to support people in their efforts. The images, for example, can help to bridge language barriers as they are easy to understand and to remember.

Bosch engages actively in the Industrie 4.0 project of acatech – the National Academy of Science and Engineering on executive level. An interim report was published at CeBIT lab talk March 6, 2012 in Hannover, Germany.

"The implementation starts with small steps here and there, there won’t be a big bang that is going to introduce Industry 4.0. On the contrary, it will come step by step. But if we look back in ten years we will see that the world has changed significantly."
Encouraging closing words of Hartmut Rauen, Member of the Executive Directorate VDMA

Do you have any experience in Intelligent Production or Smart Factory that you want to share in this blog? Or any consequences it has, for example for adjoint sectors such as logistics, RFID technology or ERP systems? How this will improve work in the facory? Can you envision open data for production?

More on Industry 4.0

This blog post looks back at Industry 4.0 of 2016 and takes a look ahead to what will shape the world of Industry 4.0 in 2017.