While high-tech events are constantly highlighting the advantages of Industry 4.0, the actual implementation still seems unattainable. In reality, by following a few simple steps and tips you can connect your plant with an achievable budget and in minimum time.
In late 2015, Adidas unveiled their latest groundbreaking initiative – fully automated plants manufacturing shoes in a fraction of the former production time, AKA, Adidas Speedfactory. Factories devoid of humans with highly automated machines became the matter of the moment and are promising a substantial return on Adidas’s massive investment.
The Speedfactory is a great example for an Industry 4.0 implementation, however, let’s face it, most companies don’t have the privilege to invest heavily in an end-to-end transformation. Corporates want to be part of the IoT wave because they know that even if it all goes down the drain, the buzz was worth it. But what if you actually want to improve your plant’s efficiency in order to save time and money, and don’t have an endless budget to allocate for the mission? In today’s post, we’ll clear out all these IoT marketing clichés by presenting how Industry 4.0 can pragmatically improve your business, and how you can achieve it with minimum risk.
Industry 4.0 Explained
Industry 4.0 is the implementation of IoT in manufacturing. Basically, sensors on machinery and equipment collecting and transfering data to the cloud. Once the cloud stores the data, users can easily access it and utilize it for insights and immediate action.
Continuous monitoring enables companies to gain real time visibility and to always be on top of things. Knowing which equipment is beneficial, or on the contrary, which equipment is faltering can increase efficiency significantly. The IoT leverages advanced analytics and machine learning to provide valuable insights for informed decision making and autonomous optimization. Once the data is translated, analyzed and accessed, immediate action can be taken from anywhere. Possible actions range from operating actuators with your phone to sharing data with colleagues. The undisputed results are energy reduction, wise use of resources and optimal quality control.
Though the benefits of Industry 4.0 are crystal clear, the required investment remains vague. So what does it really take to join the movement? In truth, a few simple steps and tips can put your business in the fast lane to Industry 4.0.
Discover the Enabling Technologies
Critical changes in technology are making Industry 4.0 more accessible than ever before. Staying up to date with the latest innovations can save you precious time and money.
Price of Sensors:
One of the top enablers of Industry 4.0 is the diminishing size and cost of sensors. Prices are dropping because of strong competition, especially for accelerometers and gyroscopes typically used in industrial environments.
GE, August 2016
MaaG (Mobile as a Gateway):
The MaaG concept significantly simplifies the development of IoT products. Choosing to work with communication protocols that already exist in your mobile phone such as WiFi, BLE and 3G saves you the hassle of purchasing and connecting additional hubs. Just passing by sensors in the plant with your personal phone will automatically upload the data to the cloud. Alternatively, if you want to station the gateway in the plant, you can place a tablet that can also provide a user interface with an app. The benefits of a phone/tablet are substantial: your configuration tool also serves as your gateway, you probably already own it and it can easily be connected to your sensors.
Strong Cloud Platforms:
Strong cloud platforms such as AWS, Microsoft Azure and IBM Watson are substantial IoT enablers. The IoT cloud platform stores, processes and analyzes the data. While storage and processing prices are dropping, the available features are becoming more and more advanced and sophisticated. Leading platforms are offering an easy to use infrastructure where you can generate customized reports.
Use What You Have
In the spirit of MaaG, we strongly advise you to utilize equipment you already have, especially in the initial prototype phase. Don’t be tempted to invest a large budget in a heavy and complicated system. Technology trends and capabilities are constantly changing and you don’t want to find yourself buying an entire new system every few years.
Surprisingly enough, you can actually use your existing “non-connected” sensors and retrofit them. Moreover, your sensors don’t even have to be digital. By adding a small evaluation board to your sensors, outputs can be easily translated into digital information and uploaded to the cloud. Atomation’s strong embedded code can manage a variety of sensors, from “dumb” to intelligent, from old to brand new.
Using what you have doesn’t result in this example only. Let’s say you don’t have sensors but you do have a database – connect your new sensors to your existing database. Avoid restricting solutions and adopt a platform that uses what you have, completes it, and connects all the pieces together.
Start From Few Parameters
Before transforming your entire factory, start with a lean POC (Proof of Concept). Define a few basic yet important parameters to measure such as temperature, acceleration and flow.
Choose a communication protocol and generate a basic cloud report to present the data. Test your prototype and compare its performance to your former system. Share the new tool with leads, clients and investors and evaluate how it can help increase day to day efficiency as well as generate new business opportunities. Once you have completed testing and reached conclusions, you’re ready to expand wisely.
We’re Here to Help
Atomation is an end-to-end IoT platform that comprises hardware solutions, a mobile SDK (Software Development Kit) and cloud based analytics. Atomation’s platform can provide the full solution when starting from scratch, or supplement existing components. Our generic embedded code can translate any of your existing sensors, and our SDK uploads data to the cloud and allows you to build apps for mobile interaction. The Atomation cloud database is where you’ll generate customized reports or transfer the data to a third party database.
We provide tools for IoT projects from the prototype stage to mass production. Contact our team of techies to discover the most efficient way to connect your business – firstname.lastname@example.org.