Industry 4.0 – Building the Foundation For Tomorrow’s Digital Manufacturing

By Gaur Dattatreya, Vice President and Head of Business Unit, Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions

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Industry 4.0 is no longer a ‘future trend’. It encompasses a promise of a new industrial revolution—one that marries advanced manufacturing techniques with the Internet of Things to create a digital manufacturing enterprise that is not only interconnected, but communicates, analyzes, and uses information to drive further intelligent action back in the physical world.

For an increasing number of companies, including the forerunners in the industry, Industry 4.0 is now in their strategic agenda. They have started integrating many advanced automation & cloud technologies in their operations, to transform their business.

There is a significant amount of investments in Industry 4.0 and there is an indication that global industrial companies would invest nearly US$907 Billion per year through to 2020, with focus on digital technologies and applications. Training employees and driving organizational change are also gaining momentum. Within the next few years, implementation of advanced smart manufacturing technologies will become a qualification to be in the game. Companies that are prepared to be flexible to accommodate the needs of the customer will actively shape the future of manufacturing.

Emerging trends driving exciting possibilities of the future

Data Analytics

Manufacturers are realizing that the data coming from multiple sources, if fed through effective data analytics could be used to create value & drive strategic decision making. We see an emerging trend where, industries enhance their product portfolio with disruptive digital solutions and innovative, data-based services.

3D Printing

Batch one manufacturing technologies like 3D printing allows digital integration with the customer, thus providing an incredible opportunity for companies to get closer to customers. There is a growing demand for personalized products, a trend that is leading to the mass production of highly customized goods tailored to the individual. This requires an agile supply chain that will cater to these high levels of customization.

The decentralized availability of critical information, irrespective of place and time makes it possible to produce such individual products even to the batch size of one. Additive manufacturing or 3D printing is strongly associated to Batch 1 production, and beckons many new possibilities in the field of industrial manufacturing.

The revolutionary multiproduct line in Bosch Rexroth, Homburg produces 200 product variants in the same line economically and with no retooling effort. The assembly line connects people, machine & products seamlessly through autonomous workstations that reconfigure themselves to suit the production of batch size as small as one product.

Sensors

Sensors are indispensable to a wide range of industries and developments in industrial sensors are happening at a phenomenal rate. Sensor technology is a driving force in the field of IOT and it is revolutionizing our manufacturing plants. They are responsible for sensing which means without them, IoT and it derivatives would be impossible.

Every day, smaller, cheaper and smarter sensors are being introduced – in homes, clothes, cities, transports, energy networks and most importantly, in manufacturing processes. Smart sensors are introduced in every imaginable description that come with the ability to sense critical data, connect to the Internet and exchange information. They facilitate machine to machine communication and help to monitor, control, improve operations and make decisions about processes that are backed by data.

Smart sensors installed in manufacturing equipment automatically log data like temperature, humidity, vibration, hours of operation, etc. Big data is fueled by these smart sensors and their data streams. The availability of humungous amount of insightful data and its variety demands the need and development of new analytics software and systems to process it. Smart sensors enable manufacturers to transition from scheduled maintenance to predictive maintenance that forecasts the event of failure, thereby reducing expensive downtime. Sensors and the digitization of manufacturing processes open the doors to innumerable possibilities towards efficiency, quality and profitability.

Smart Manufacturing will make India an attractive leader

The Indian manufacturing sector is on the brink of scripting a new era for itself and become the fundamental enabler for the country to take up its role as the global manufacturing hub. A paradigm change is expected to be ushered in while the growth of manufacturing sector takes place.

The plant is only one piece – currently, India is at a lower level compared to other countries in terms of plant sophistication. It is many times at pure mechanical manufacturing level. The looked-for level, or top of the pyramid, is a situation where Industry 4.0 is adopted completely. India is now going global with ‘Make in India.’

Manufacturing gives millions of people a share in producing products and this is very important for India’s future. If India wants to be successful in Make in India, it needs to become the hub for smart manufacturing. This requires a focus on exports. We need to now adapt Industry 4.0 concepts for India. Only this optimization will give us the triumph in India.

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