For about two years now, ‘Industry 4.0’ is being referred to by a lot of experts in the manufacturing industry. But what does it mean exactly and, more importantly, what is its added value for you?
In one sentence: This next level in automation means that everything is connected, in all the levels of the value chain.
The production of the future will run even more independently than now. We are not talking anymore about automation of a production line itself, we are talking about automation of the whole factory. Failures on certain type of machines will be responded with an alternative route through the factory. Production times will be calculated based on routing and work cell loads will be adjusted. Bottlenecks in the factory will be minimized and constraints will be solved.
This implies that also on a machine or production line level things are going to change. In means that a machine will give back detailed information about its status, working conditions and production time. For example, steel processing machines can give information about the steel processed, their current status and what parts and consumables need to replaced soon. This speeds up production time, but also decreases downtime since parts can be exchanged just before their end of life.
Besides this, products can be monitored via sensors. This means you can see where they are located during the entire production process and in what state they are. By means of this two-way communication the machine and software system are able to control production autonomously and in a way that is a lot more efficient.
All together, Industry 4.0 will eventually lead to new business models and improved productivity by connecting machinery, sensors and control systems together. But take in mind that this fourth industrial revolution is a revolution that comes with small steps; it is not one huge immediate change.
4 CONCRETE EFFECTS
In short, these are the things that are already realized or being realized in the future by Voortman:
BEING IN TOTAL CONTROL
The software system makes it possible to monitor the current situation from the office and thereby, being up-to-date on everything that happens. Voortman delivers a total integrated solution called "Multi System Integration" (MSI). The whole system is equipped with additional detection and sensors to monitor every operation and motion, enabling you to see where products are located during the entire production process and in what state they are. This increases the productivity highly while man-hours are being saved and enables the operator to control the whole system on his own.