By Andrew Lynch.
Manufacturing has evolved over the last two centuries where we have come from the industrial revolution based on mechanical production and steam power through the 2nd revolution with the use of electricity to the 3rd revolution based on electronics and IT to today based on Cyber Physical systems. This new era will see transformational changes to not only how manufacturing is carried out with more robots and less humans but to completely new radical business models that will see some traditional manufacturing businesses disappear. For the first time ever with the low cost pervasive availability of powerful computer platforms, companies will be able to bring connectivity to the manufacturing floor like never before.
In Ireland this is known as Factory 4.0. It is about Connectivity & Data sharing between every entity that has a role in the Manufacture, Sale and Use of a Product – Suppliers, Manufacturers, Equipment, Systems, People - in an all-encompassing ‘Internet of Things’. Factory 4.0 is also referred to as Industry 4.0 (Germany), Manufacturing 2025 (China), and Manufacturing 4.0 (US)
Factory 4.0 readiness is required to meet new customer demands via the Internet of Things (IOT) and Supply Chain Traceability requirements
Manufacturers must adopt a more agile approach to product demands and embrace new technologies like:
- Collaborative Robotics
- Augmented Reality
- Automated Visual Inspection Systems
if they want to survive and grow in this new era.
Challenges for industries are growing world wide. Increased productivity and cost competitiveness is becoming more challenging. Increased energy and resource efficiency is being mandated more by customers. Enhanced flexibility is now an even bigger requirement with volatile markets, high productivity demands and individualised mass production. A world with more shorter innovation cycles, more complex products, and larger data volume are becoming more and more a reality for manufacturers. This new world has been enabled through the pervasive and low cost availability of computer platforms.
In order to ensure manufacturers in Ireland protect and grow their business they need to connect and understand this inflection point as it transforms their world. Organisations like Irish Manufacturing Research in partnership with Manufacturers on the island of Ireland are asking this question. Serious efforts are going in to try build leading edge SOA and beyond pilot manufacturing lines that showcase the possibilities
Manufacturing accounts for 22% of GDP