Production 4.0:The Bright Future of Production
A look into the near future shows challenges that the working world will have to face sooner or later. Digitization, automation and Industry 4.0 are topics that demand innovative and individual solutions from every company. The technical revolution is in full swing. To keep up, companies need to react. The manufacturing industry in particular is currently being pushed ahead with technical innovations. Robots replace human work and networking across all levels and production facilities shortens distances. The production of the future is lean and flexible. This increases productivity, delivery speed and quality. This results in competitive advantages that give you a big advantage over competitors who are less willing to innovate. If you don't keep up here, you'll quickly lose the chance. In this post, we would like to give you an overview of the developments in modern production and show you a way to participate.
Industry 4.0 - The fourth industrial revolution
Smart factories, augmented reality, comprehensive networking, automation. Digital and human intelligence complement each other to form a highly efficient value chain. Smart technology is finding its way into industry to bring benefits to customers, companies and employees. Industry 4.0 is the modern industrial revolution. It is in full swing and is the reason why numerous large companies can no longer do without their own IT department. Medium-sized companies are now also recognizing the relevance of modern technology. More and more cyber-physical production systems are finding their way into factories. This not only changes the production processes, but also revolutionizes the concept of work in a production hall.
The production of the future - the end of assembly line
If you want to take a look into the future of your manufacturing company, you don't need a crystal ball or tea leaves. Large companies are already showing how it's done. It already drove the previous industrial revolution decisively, and today it is still a pioneer with a lot of innovative power: the automotive industry. 100 years after Henry Ford greatly simplified and accelerated the production of his Model T with the help of the assembly line, Audi and Mercedes-Benz are now doing away with it again. Robots take on heavy, dangerous and monotonous work, while production workers can fully develop their cognitive abilities compared to artificial intelligence.
Smart Factory - Examples of the pioneers
The principle of the smart factory can be implemented in various ways. The basic idea is a networked, intelligent and self-optimizing production. Machines, robots, materials and products are networked and constantly communicating with each other. It is always clear where which component is, which status a product is currently attached to and which work step a machine or robot is currently carrying out. In this way, the production processes can be optimized down to the last detail. This allows fast and resource-saving production.
Digitization of the entire value chain at Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz is pursuing a different Smart Factory approach. Instead of just equipping production with artificial intelligence, the entire value chain in the Swabian factory buildings should benefit from digitization. Man and machine should collaborate together. Optimizing the processes begins as early as the design stage. At Mercedes-Benz, the smart factory begins before actual production. First, the vision of the designer or developer is checked for feasibility in a digital twin of the factory. If the model goes into series production, the process flows are already fixed before production and are planned with regard to the ordered equipment features of the various cars.
An artificial intelligence calculates the processes, while humans assemble the car together with machines. Unlike at Audi, people are still present in the production halls. The robots support the employees in their work. Control and leadership is still the responsibility of humans. Mercedes-Benz follows the principle of human-robot cooperation for ergonomic and age-appropriate work.
Aside from planning and production, sales is an essential part of every factory. This is also being digitized at Mercedes-Benz and is part of the digital value chain. Customer contact, sales and service are accessible to the customer via Mercedes Me over the Internet, because the production of the future looks beyond the boundaries of the factory premises.
Module production instead of assembly line work at Audi
Audi is well on the way to getting rid of assembly line work after just 100 years. They are replaced by intelligent transport robots that bring the vehicle from station to station. This does not happen in a fixed order, but rather in a modular manner. If a station is free where a feature that was ordered for this car is installed, the robot transports it there. If the feature is not ordered, the robot independently searches for another station that matches the order and drives to it. Arriving at the station, the transport robot encounters either a production robot or a team of humans and machines.
This method can increase efficiency by 20 percent and improve quality significantly, because each work step can take as long as it takes. Given times are history. The module production also means that there are no queues at individual stations. It is simply driven to another.
Production control rethought with Big Data
In order to make production efficient, data is required. In the production of the future, the planning AI receives its data from the machines, robots, materials and products. The computer calculates the ideal production processes from production times, material requirements and properties, transport routes and error rates. The networking of all relevant places provides constant information about the availability of time and material. The data on the ordering behavior of customers is also included in these calculations. Over- or under-production is becoming less and less likely. Using big data in the form of a central data collection allows the company to react quickly to errors, quality problems and low or high utilization.As a result, production runs more efficiently and cost-effectively. In the additive manufacturing industry the requirement of utilizing big data to shorten the 3D printing services process and save the cost will be much more essential in future. Getting instant quote and send the data to the 3D printing machine for moving to next step of 3D printing, after few hours you will get the awesome result.
Resource efficiency - for the sake of the environment and the customer
The future of production is based on sustainability and efficiency. The factory should produce as quickly and resource-efficiently as possible with the help of digitization. A smart factory offers the opportunity to operate exactly the levers that lead to higher efficiency with consistent quality. Relocating the control of planning and operation of the factory to the task area of artificial intelligence is a forward-looking step. Because the calculations of a computer are rarely fallible and always extremely precise.
Material flows and energy management can already be optimized at the planning level. In this way, waiting times and production waste can be minimized or even eliminated. Simulations in digital factories allow the calculated processes and their feasibility to be checked in real life. With the help of such systems, innovation potential can be used quickly and development processes can be accelerated. In the end there is a customer or end consumer who receives the product he has ordered on time, pays an affordable price and does not unnecessarily burden the environment with his order. The competitive advantage is immense.
Man as part of Production 4.0
Digitization, artificial intelligence, automation - these are the key buzzwords of Industry 4.0. Where is the human being, one or the other is bound to ask. The answer: He is right in the middle and a full part of the production that still cannot be dispensed with. It works hand in hand with the machines and the artificial intelligence that controls them. The machine relieves people of heavy and monotonous work, giving them the freedom to use their cognitive superiority. Demanding work instead of monotonous production await the production workers of the future. Automated production is not worthwhile at every production facility. If small quantities or customization are required, people continue to be the driving force behind production. Take a instance, In order to manufacture highly complex components with cnc machining approach you still need machinist to implemente the optimal programme to shorten the production circle, although the robots takes lots of heavy job.
What the machine lacks in flexibility and skills, the human brings. Because machines are not infallible. Mechanics become critics of the production process and intervene when the production process has to deviate from the programming of the production robots. The production worker of the future will therefore have to prove fewer motor skills. Rather, he is encouraged to think creatively and solution-oriented.
The way into the future - you should do that now
Constantly repetitive activities can easily be taken over by robots. Automation is becoming increasingly lucrative for series far removed from mass production. The relevance of Production 4.0 is steadily increasing for small companies. Don't miss the connection! Because when your competitors have overtaken you in terms of efficiency, production time and price, it is often too late. The future is making great strides. Welcome her instead of escaping her.
The first step: data collection
The path to smart production begins with the collection of data. Data is already being collected continuously in many factories. But hardly any medium-sized company actually uses them to optimize processes. The evaluation of sensor data during the maintenance of machines can provide useful conclusions about the production process. The recording of production times also gives amazing insights. The relevant data include: the quality analysis of the end product, operating and throughput times of the machines, Process, machine and operating data.
The second step: networking
In order to set up effective data collection, a central interface is required. They bundle and process the data from the various systems and production stations. Setting up a central database in which all information is stored and which can be accessed from anywhere is the next step towards your future-proof production.
The third step: evaluation and process optimization
The recorded and collected data only develop their full potential when they are evaluated and the results are used to optimize the processes. This can be done by humans to begin with. With a dense network and well-programmed artificial intelligence, a computer can do this as soon as humans reach their limits. With reliable data acquisition, comprehensive networking and efficient process optimization, the foundation for automation is laid, because most systems already offer interfaces to be able to take this step smoothly.
The production of the future - the chance for production in the sense of the people Use Industry 4.0 to design your production efficiently, ergonomically and cost-effectively. This not only benefits you as an entrepreneur, but also employees and customers. The way to get there is to change the production processes. Investments have to be made first. However, these are worthwhile in the long term, because sustainable and efficient production saves costs. The future is getting closer and traditional manufacturing companies will become more and more expensive and ultimately no longer competitive as development progresses, especially in high-wage Germany. Start now into the future of your company and start with first step.