Digital transformation is more than a trend, it is a movement that is readily being adapted across various industries. Some have been quick to start the transition, implementing new procedures and policies, as well as training staff and customers to ensure easy adoption of this newer technology. Manufacturing companies have traditionally been slower than other industries to react and embrace the advent of digital technologies like intelligent robots, nanotechnology and 3D printing.
Industry 4.0 is changing that.
Industry 4.0 is the next phase in the digitisation of the manufacturing sector, driven by four disruptions:
- the astonishing rise in data volumes, computational power, and connectivity, especially new low-power wide-area networks;
- the emergence of analytics and business-intelligence capabilities;
- new forms of human-machine interaction such as touch interfaces and augmented-reality systems; and
- improvements in transferring digital instructions to the physical world, such as advanced robotics and 3-D printing.
Industry 4.0 is so named as it is the fourth major upheaval in modern manufacturing, following the lean revolution of the 1970s, the outsourcing phenomenon of the 1990s, and the automation that took off in the 2000s.
But what are the benefits of Industry 4.0 for Australian manufacturing businesses?
Cost savings, reduced downtime, reduction in human errors and wastage are just the tip of the ‘benefit iceberg’ regarding the digitised revolution.
Imagine. You have an airplane engine with sensors and loads of sophisticated parts and technology as in the case of Rolls Royce. What if you could make a fully virtual replica (not to be confounded with augmented reality) in the cloud that is designed by engineers with CAD (computer-aided design) and CAD 3D models and “functions” as the real engine would do but then in a virtual form (simulation)?
What are the benefits of such a possibility?
With the ability to replicate real-world scenarios in a digital environment, you would be able to detect possible issues before a part has even been machined. You can simulate nearly every conceivable scenario to test your product to its fullest, and even throw in some inconceivable situations, all with the knowledge that the results you receive would be exactly the same with the real product.
While that is a great benefit within itself, there is another offshoot benefit that is the driver behind the manufacturing industry; innovation.
With the digitisation of the manufacturing industry, companies will be able to look at their operations on a grander scale. Whether it be implementing updated CAD software for more accuracy in design, or installing CNC machines and systems for producing large batches of components or parts to specification. Not only will this reduce wastage by reducing the possibility of human error, but it will also reduce costs while increasing productivity.
And that is definitely a good thing.