Internet of Business's comprehensive guide to where Industry 4.0 will lead manufacturers in the year ahead. Most manufacturers believe they are leading their markets in Industry 4.0 technologies, despite evidence to the contrary. There is a huge gap between the many companies that are exploring digital manufacturing strategies – via technologies such as automation, robotics, AI, and the Internet of Things – and those that are implementing them successfully. With Brexit looming, many manufacturers and solutions providers fear what this will mean for the wider European industrial community, which depends on the free movement of people and confident investment. The UK Budget recently sought to soften this blow by reinforcing the UK's commitment to a strong environment for international scientific collaboration. As part of this investment in R&D, the government will increase the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund by £1.1 billion, supporting technologies of the future. This includes up to £121 million for the Made Smarter initiative to support the transformation of manufacturing through digitally enabled technologies, such as the Internet of Things and virtual reality.
Artificial Intelligence is benefiting to various industries including healthcare, education and manufacturing. But what is Artificial intelligence (AI)? In Layman language, a simulator of human intelligence, which makes the decision after analyzing various data utilizing a collection of different intelligent technologies including machine and deep learning, analytics and computer vision. The fourth industrial revolution is employing AI to enhance its overall efficiency. The technology is not only helping to reduce manufacturing cost as well as it is improving productivity and quality. Manufacturing is a capital-intensive process, and once a plant is a set-up, replacing, removing or renovating is exorbitantly expensive. New machines improve performance; reduce redundancies, while improving overall quality metrics. AI is proving an alternative route to achieve all this and at extremely competitive price points. Instead of now replacing machines, manufacturers are adding AI/ML tools to pre-inspect raw materials identify defects, perform quality evaluations, and a lot more.
Manufacturing companies can feel product cycles tightening around them. In our fast-paced world, consumers are tossing out devices with rapid regularity, calling for the newest gadget, the hottest feature, the most instantaneous service. But how will manufacturing companies keep pace with this growing demand while continuing to produce increasingly complex goods? Smart Manufacturing, Industry 4.0, the Digital Enterprise, Factory of the Future or whatever you choose to call it, is revolutionizing the industry as we know it. Unlike the first industrial revolution of steam and iron (remember when hot water was a nifty tool?), this industrial revolution is splicing computing power and machine technologies to fuel a better, more efficient workplace that harnesses the abilities of modern informational, operational and communication technologies.
The industrial world has been in the throes of digitization for well over a decade. Primarily through enterprise resource planning (ERP) and manufacturing execution systems (MES), critical planning, scheduling, warehousing, inventory management, and logistics processes have been automated and simplified. But these gains have been restricted to technology silos, supporting separate functions of the factory rather than improving the performance of the plant -- and its extended supply chain -- in a broader way. Those days may finally be in the past, as manufacturers now have a golden opportunity to take advantage of digitization's promised outsized benefits. The advent of complex smart sensors, artificial intelligence, big data pools, and robotics, combined with the vast connections of the cloud, is heralding a new era for manufacturers, marked by totally integrated factories that can rapidly tailor products to individual customer needs and respond instantly to shifting demands and trends.