Over the last few years, there has been a widespread use of computer and robotics in the manufacturing industry to augment production capacity and efficiency. The advent of automation systems, big data, Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, and cloud computing embarks an era of new industrial revolution, which is also referred to as industry 4.0 (i4.0). The interconnectedness of all digital systems in manufacturing minimizes the need for human intervention and takes productivity to the next level, therefore, encouraging the next industrial revolution.
As famously quoted, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” here are some of the reasons driving the next industrial revolution:
Execute Work in Dangerous Environment
Many production facilities require humans to work in a dangerous or hazardous working condition. Even with the availability of personal protective equipment, risks cannot be totally eliminated. Also, the protection and safety of workers are governed by various rules and regulations. Automated and smart systems are capable of performing tasks with minimal human inputs, which drastically improves the health and safety of human workers.
Huge Cost Savings
Interconnected sensors in a manufacturing system can communicate to a central system to automate manufacturing processes and cut down on the waste. IoT will enable manufacturing robots to communicate with each other and forecast optimal labor planning, inventory level, and predictive maintenance. This ensures a constant supply of inputs for the smooth flow of operations within the manufacturing system.
Communication and Information to All
One of the biggest challenges for any company is to streamline all their functional departments and create a synergy between them. IoT and cloud computing allow departments such as production, purchasing, and sales to share valuable information and collaborate on actionable data sets to improve efficiency. This sharing of information facilitates coordination and communication of intelligent planning solutions.
Enable Mass Customization
Consumers today are being more specific in their needs and wants. The second industrial revolution brought about mass production to enable economies of scale. Machine learning, automation, and the principle of additive manufacturing together allows manufacturers to customize their base product to the specific needs of the customer and still retain the economies of scale.
Quest for Continuous Improvement
Manufacturers are on the constant lookout for technologies and processes to make their production process more efficient and improve product quality. Advanced data analytics can point out areas of improvement and suggest optimal solutions to improve the manufacturing process. Apart from this machine learning can significantly enhance the productivity by increasing production capacity, reducing material consumption rate, improving product and service quality, and optimizing supply chains.
The never-ending goal of businesses to cut down cost and improve efficiency will drive the next industrial revolution. Furthermore, the next industrial revolution promises much more than just that and opens up room for greater possibilities.