Auto components India - - EDITORIAL -

In the past 7 years, the world of man­u­fac­tur­ing has en­tered the next phase of its own evo­lu­tion with a new set of guid­ing prin­ci­ples known as ‘In­dus­try 4.0’ or the fourth in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion. Just as the tran­si­tions from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age and to the Iron Age marked pe­ri­ods of rad­i­cal, sweep­ing ad­vances for the hu­man species, In­dus­try 4.0 marks the next, dif­fer­ent epoch of pro­duc­tion tech­nol­ogy dras­ti­cally. Man­u­fac­tur­ing has be­come more in­tel­lec­tual in the process; engi­neers can fo­cus on com­puter-aided de­sign (CAD), and in­te­grate new sci­en­tific meth­ods and ma­te­ri­als, con­fi­dent that com­put­erised sys­tems will ex­e­cute their de­signs with the re­quired pre­ci­sion to make seem­ingly any­thing pos­si­ble.

What could be next? Ger­man thought lead­ers dubbed the next step In­dus­try 4.0, and since 2013 its guid­ing prin­ci­ples have been tak­ing shape. Heav­ily con­nected to the con­cept of IoT (In­ter­net of Things) the fu­ture will bring more and more ma­chines that seem to think for them­selves and com­mu­ni­cate with each other, track­ing phys­i­cal move­ments via sen­sors and tak­ing cor­rec­tive ac­tion, and even pre­dict­ing the need for main­te­nance.

The au­to­ma­tion rev­o­lu­tion of the past cen­tury used ma­chines as obe­di­ent dum­mies, mind­lessly ex­e­cut­ing a pro­gramme of sim­ple com­mands in se­quence, the next phase of au­to­ma­tion will in­cor­po­rate ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, with ma­chines that mea­sure and an­a­lyse per­for­mance, syn­the­sis­ing data to ob­serve trends and make rec­om­men­da­tions.

In­dus­try 4.0 is less about the fu­ture and more about a vi­brant col­lab­o­ra­tion among IT, ma­chine builders, in­dus­trial au­to­ma­tion in­te­gra­tors and mo­tion con­trol sup­pli­ers. This last group is sub­stan­tially im­por­tant be­cause their prod­ucts func­tion at the heart of the ma­chines, si­mul­ta­ne­ously ef­fect­ing mo­tion, then gath­er­ing and trans­mit­ting the rel­e­vant data to the ap­pro­pri­ate con­trol link in the com­pany’s in­fra­struc­ture. With the re­cent, rapid ex­pan­sion of ap­pli­ca­tion-spe­cific in­te­grated cir­cuit ca­pa­bil­ity, much more func­tion­al­ity can be built into a prod­uct to­day and this means the man­u­fac­tur­ing com­mu­nity must be even more flex­i­ble and re­spon­sive, not merely re­ac­tive, than ever be­fore.

A con­nected dig­i­tal fac­tory and the big data it gen­er­ates pro­vide man­u­fac­tur­ers with the in­sight and agility re­quired to com­pete. Dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion gives man­u­fac­tur­ers the ca­pa­bil­ity to in­crease pro­duc­tiv­ity across their en­tire value chain, from de­sign and en­gi­neer­ing to pro­duc­tion, sales and ser­vice, with in­te­grated feed­back through­out the process. The re­sults are faster time-to-mar­ket, greater flex­i­bil­ity and higher avail­abil­ity of sys­tems on the shop floor.

Bhar­gav TS

Ex­ec­u­tive Edi­tor s.bhar­gav@nextgen­pub­lish­

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