Next industrial revolution’s impact on mills
IF YOUR SAWMILL OR WOOD PROCESSING PLANT doesn’t adapt to changes taking place as part of the 4th Industrial Revolution, it may not survive into the future.
That was the message from speakers to a gathering of representatives from around the industry at the WoodTECH 2018 conference in Rotorua last month.
Wide-ranging changes are being forecast under Industry 4.0, as the next phase of industrial upheaval is known. And manufacturing will never be the same again.
Nathan Stantiall, Business Innovation Advisor to the Callaghan Institute, says that Industry 4.0 is set to bring a whole bunch of new technologies together that will make manufacturing smarter, more connected, more efficient and much safer.
It will see the use of more robotics, augmented reality, additive manufacturing, something called the Digital Twin and it will all be brought together under the umbrella of the Internet of Things.
For sawmillers and wood processors it could see robots working along people on the production line, doing repetitive or dangerous tasks and smarter processing technologies that anticipate problems before they happen and taking corrective action.
And that is where Digital Twin comes in. It’s a virtual model of a process, product or service that allows analysis of data and monitoring of systems to head off problems before they even occur, prevent downtime, develop new opportunities and even plan for the future by using simulations.
If all this sounds like a scary scenario to mill owners and workers alike, Mr Stantiall has some soothing words. He says one of the jobs of the Callaghan Institute is to help manufacturers identify what they need to do to adapt to these changes and assist them through the process. There are even grants available to ease the financial burden, for such things as gaining access to a university student or phD researcher to work with the company.
More information is available at www. callaghaninnovation.govt.nz.