Industry 4.0 and Packaging Machines
Industry 4.0 has been in the news for a while now, though I don’t remember hearing about Industry 1.0 to 3.0, so maybe we’ve only recently started to categorise the last two hundred years of the Industrial Revolution. Previous industrial revolutions were led by innovations in manufacturing processes and systems, and the move from one stage to the next was very gradual. The advancements to industry 4.0 are also continuing at a steady pace, although it's impact on productivity and reliability can be drastic, as industry 4.0 is being driven by a smart, interconnected, and pervasive environment. Industry 4.0 technologies have been around individually for a while, but more recently, they have begun to take off and are gaining traction. One may ask, why now? Well, probably Moore's Law was giving us the indication regarding this since last few decades, and we were not ready, and we may still be in slumber. Around 50 years ago, Gordon Moore (the co-founder of Fairchild Semiconducter and Intel) had predicted that the number of transistors on a microchip would double every two years, and the cost of computers would be halved. This has in fact been happening for the last few decades now leading to a significant reduction in cost of electronic hardware, a drastic improvement in processing speed. This has helped in developing technologies that have made storing, accessing, and processing data with very fast speeds possible and the internet of things (IOT) is fast becoming a piece of cake. Industry 4.0 is about connectivity; it is an opportunity to radically change the way we do our business and respond to the needs of masses. At a basic level, Industry 4.0 technologies add value by enabling better visibility into manufacturing lines, supply chains and resource usage by integrating various functions and automating the processes. This increased visibility allows companies to increase productivity and to compete on values such as improved service. Industry 4.0 connects and merges production with information and communications technology, allowing components and machines to autonomously manage production in a flexible, efficient, and resource-saving manner. The packaging industry is currently facing pressure to address the need for faster and more flexible, customised, and sustainable production. The fact is that the food industry has still not fully embraced the potential of Industry 4.0. This is partly due to the complacency and apprehension of suppliers who fear the disruption to their established packaging lines, not to mention ROI and cybersecurity. An addittional challenge is to how to apply the data that is collected to ensure tangible business benefits. Technologies such as robotics and data analysis are now gaining momentum within manufacturing space to increase versatility, ensure efficiency and meet ever-changing market and consumers’ present and future needs. Once the initial hurdles to change are overcome, the challenges related to flexible size changing, quick changeovers and high reliability can be resolved by better integration of the equipment on production lines and by providing better visibility of the performance metrics. The key to achieving this is a willingness to adapt and ensure that the supplier can match their software expertise with engineering experience and market knowledge. Digitisation has covered all areas of the company, from purchasing, production, logistics to sales and marketing. Some of the important steps for effectively implementing the Industry 4.0 solutions are mentioned below. Consider Interoperability Implementing and embracing new technology has only limited benefits if the product or system cannot exchange contextual information with other products and systems. Interoperability refers to the ability of objects, machines, and people in a business to communicate, exchange data and coordinate activities. This ability to connect with context is essential for taking advantage of the insights provided by data to increase efficiency and improve processes. Interoperability cannot happen without connectivity, so as a first step, we must digitise our operations. Implement Virtualisation: Simulations can help us analyse various options and may help in extending the life of physical assets, uncovering operation inefficiencies, reducing maintenance costs, and understanding our equipment better. Try to simulate virtually before implementing physically. Decentralisation: Businesses have been using decentralisation for years to enable quick and effective decisions, improve scalability and flexibility. Storing and transferring data in the cloud is a form of decentralisation, as is the automation of manual, repetitive tasks. Both redistribute functions or tasks away from a central location. With industry 4.0, facilitating the creation of decentralised systems across all industries becomes quite easy and reliable, as the system visibility and trackability improves drastically. Real-time capability: Real-time capability refers to the collection and analysis of data in real-time, allowing decisions to be made immediately. Thanks to the proliferation of sensors and internet-connected devices, most businesses already have access to large amounts of real-time data. The challenge lies in processing and analysing the data so that business operations can be continuously optimised. Cloud computing means that this information can be managed in real-time without the need to wait for reports, with many services offering embedded analytics that can be viewed anywhere and at any time. Service orientation: The real-time capability made possible thanks to big data and the free flow of information. This allows businesses to adapt to changing customer needs and expectations as they occur, providing a personalised service. As a result, there is a shift in focus occurring across all industries to customers rather than products and to customised services rather than mass production. Industry 4.0 is a collaborative system of multiple elements. The fourth industrial revolution can help us all to adopt and integrate real-world solutions for improving productivity, reliability, and involvement. What are we missing? We look forward to your questions and comments.
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