Industry 4.0 is the new industrial revolution that will transform manufacturing and business:
Increasing productivity through optimization of all processes.
Maximizing the useful life of equipment through more accurate predictive maintenance.
Increasing the response speed of the entire production chain, turning it into a real-time value chain (1).
Personalizing the products and services offered.
And finally, innovating business models.
The promise of great benefits is very attractive, but it will only become a reality if the challenges and risks faced by companies that want to evolve towards Industry 4.0 are overcome.
To explain the challenges of Industry 4.0, the following hypothetical example of a canned soda vending machine located in a school cafeteria is proposed:
This soda vending machine is trendy and every time someone approaches to get a drink, it turns on all its systems that were asleep (in a low power consumption mode) during the night. After obtaining payment from the passerby via smartphone
and delivering the drink, it records the sale and other data such as flavor, time and date, location and even the method of payment. These data are sent to the “cloud” (internet), to be processed by the program that for purposes of the example we will call “Vending Program”. The “Vending Program” notifies another program, which we will call the “Dispenser Program”.
As the vending machine empties, the “Dispensing Program” orders the machine to be filled (along with the dispensing order from other machines that this program also serves).
The dispensing order now goes to another program that is in charge of the production of canned soft drinks.
The “Production” program communicates with all the robots and machines that supply raw materials (such as cans, water, flavoring, etc.) to produce the canned soft drinks. Now all the robots communicate with each other to synchronize production in a highly efficient process, capable of producing thousands of soft drinks a day but also adapting to demand, decreasing or increasing production. In this way, during the winter season, because people do not consume as many cold beverages, the demand for the “Dispenser” program’s assortment drops considerably and avoids inventory costs of raw materials and storage of soft drinks.
After generating the necessary production to supply a certain amount of vending machines located in different offices, schools, stores and squares of the city, the “Production” program communicates with the “Logistics Program” which is in charge of shipping the quantities of soft drinks, also using robots for this task, as well as following up with the different vending automat trucks, to confirm receipt of the assortment from the “Dispensing Program” and the “Vending Program”.
The production program also communicates with other companies to ask them for the raw material needed to make the canned soft drinks. In this way, the entire production chain communicates continuously and adjusts to demand, making it a dynamic, flexible value chain that responds at the same time as people, i.e. in “real time”.
The production program will also prepare special orders received through the Internet, for example, for parties. It prepares and ships them, notifying customers when the order is on its way.
The vans are automated (they do not need a driver) and receive from the “Logistics Program” the fastest routes and the most efficient order to visit each of the vending machines and fill them. In addition, the automated vans also have a predictive maintenance program, which keeps precise control of their maintenance, extending the useful life of the vans.
The automated trucks are electric and are charged overnight. All this electricity expense is also accounted for by another program called “Financial” which keeps track of all the raw material costing, logistics, maintenance and of course the sales of the entire company.
In our fictitious example, this company performs all its operations without the help of a person.
From sales, logistics, production and even finances, were carried out in an automated way, with cybernetic elements and computer systems communicating with each other. This is what is now beginning to be called a “Smart Industry” and represents the fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0.
Are we close to achieving the objectives of Industry 4.0, what challenges do we face, how can we start innovating our processes to evolve and survive the fourth industrial revolution?
In our next publication we will try to answer these questions.