In­dus­trial revo­lu­tion 4.0

DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - CONTENTS -

The man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try is on the verge of a fourth in­dus­trial revo­lu­tion, driven by the rise in au­to­ma­tion and dig­i­tally-driven pro­cesses. Also known as In­dus­try 4.0, this new era will see the in­tel­li­gent in­ter­link­ing of pro­duc­tion sys­tems to in­crease ef­fi­ciency, pro­duc­tiv­ity and sup­port in­dus­try growth. But why is an­other in­dus­trial revo­lu­tion nec­es­sary?

The man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try has en­dured a num­ber of chal­lenges in re­cent years that have seen it nec­es­sar­ily pur­sue an agenda of in­creased ef­fi­ciency, re­duced waste and max­i­mum out­put.

There has been a marked in­crease in de­mand for small-batch and on-de­mand pro­duc­tion, which has been fur­ther im­pacted by the rise in eCom­merce, which de­mands the op­ti­miza­tion of sup­ply chains and elim­i­na­tion of er­ror. Many com­pa­nies have also suf­fered fi­nan­cial pres­sures due to ris­ing do­mes­tic pro­duc­tion costs and glob­al­i­sa­tion fa­cil­i­tat­ing in­creased in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion.

For many decades, the phi­los­o­phy of ‘lean man­u­fac­tur­ing’ has sought to elim­i­nate waste in sup­ply chains, max­imis­ing qual­ity and ef­fi­ciency. In­dus­try 4.0 is tak­ing ‘lean’ to the next level, mak­ing it more eas­ily achiev­able and more ef­fec­tive. The ‘lean’ ide­ol­ogy was born out of the Ja­panese man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try and is most of­ten as­so­ci­ated with Toy­ota. While ‘lean’ has been around since at least the 80s , and has long been a goal of many man­u­fac­tur­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions, new tech­nolo­gies are now mak­ing ‘lean’ man­u­fac­tur­ing more eas­ily achiev­able.

Why is Flex­i­ble Au­to­ma­tion the An­swer?

The ‘lean’ phi­los­o­phy iden­ti­fied seven types of waste – over­pro­duc­tion; in­ven­tory; con­veyance; cor­rec­tion; mo­tion; pro­cess­ing and wait­ing. The aim of lean, and of f lex­i­ble au­to­ma­tion, is to in­crease ef­fi­cien­cies and re­duce waste, ac­tiv­i­ties that con­trib­ute to bol­ster­ing the health of your bot­tom line.

Au­to­ma­tion can be clas­si­fied into three cat­e­gories: fixed, pro­grammed and f lex­i­ble. Fixed, or hard, au­to­ma­tion uses spe­cial pur­pose equip­ment to au­to­mate a fixed se­quence of pro­cess­ing or as­sem­bly and it is dif­fi­cult to al­ter or change the de­sign. Pro­grammed au­to­ma­tion means the equip­ment has the ca­pac­ity to change the se­quence of op­er­a­tions to ac­com­mo­date dif­fer­ent prod­uct con­fig­u­ra­tions, thanks to a coded pro­gram. By cod­ing a new pro­gram, the sys­tem is able to pro­duce new prod­ucts, how­ever this kind of au­to­ma­tion still usu­ally re­quires man­ual changeovers to switch prod­ucts. Flex­i­ble au­to­ma­tion is an ex­ten­sion of pro­grammed au­to­ma­tion that al­lows a greater va­ri­ety of prod­ucts/ parts to be man­u­fac­tured on the same equip­ment with­out the need for man­ual changeovers or re­pro­gram­ming.

Flex­i­ble au­to­ma­tion in par­tic­u­lar lends it­self to the FMCG, which of­ten needs to be al­tered depend­ing on where it will be dis­trib­uted. This can mean a large num­ber of changeovers for mul­ti­ple small batches of a sin­gle prod­uct, and this is­sue be­comes more pro­nounced as com­pa­nies pur­sue global dis­tri­bu­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties. Changeovers are ex­tremely time con­sum­ing, and also in­crease the risk of er­ror and in­jury should a worker be rush­ing the changeover to meet pro­duc­tiv­ity dead­lines.

SICK pro­vides a range of so­lu­tion suites tai­lored to ad­dress the dif­fer­ent chal­lenges present in par­tic­u­lar man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tors. All of SICK’s sys­tems are open for­mat, al­low­ing them to be eas­ily in­te­grated with a com­pany’s ex­ist­ing equip­ment, which elim­i­nates the need for a costly up­grade of your ma­chin­ery.

One com­pany that has ex­pe­ri­enced sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments with SICK sys­tems is Proc­tor & Gam­ble. This multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tion is par­ent to a huge sta­ble of brands, many of which are dis­trib­uted glob­ally. Af­ter im­ple­ment­ing SICK’s RapCo so­lu­tion across their en­tire pro­duc­tion line, P&G was able to re­duce prod­uct changeover time from 24 min­utes to just 77 sec­onds, a phenom­e­nal im­prove­ment in ef­fi­ciency.

The IO-link and Rapco sys­tems al­low plant man­agers to view the pro­duc­tion process as a whole, to drill right down to the minu­tiae and make ad­just­ments or al­ter their sys­tems ever so slightly from a cen­tral dash­board. IO-link al­lows ap­pli­ca­tions to be loaded, which cre­ates ef­fi­cien­cies in tim­ing and al­lows lines to be run at a faster rate and have higher through­put of a higher qual­ity.

This also helps fa­cil­i­tate im­proved ef­fi­ciency in all steps of the sup­ply chain. For ex­am­ple, as a prod­uct is be­ing com­pleted, trans­port is no­ti­fied to pick it up, dis­tri­bu­tion is made aware of its im­mi­nent ar­rival and re­place­ment in­ven­tory is brought in to make new prod­uct, en­sur­ing your com­pany is al­ways equipped and ready to serve its cus­tomers.

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