Emerging Trends in Manufacturing
Published by : Industrial Automation
Jayesh Suratwala presents a brief overview of Industry 4.0 with respect to process industries like steel, paper, power, food, etc.
Mankind has witnessed several industrial revolutions over the past 300 years, starting with mechanisation and discovery of the steam engine in 1784 (Industrial Revolution 1). The next wave was when assembly lines capable of mass producing multiple units at a consistent quality were invented, around 1874, a period generally identified as Industrial Revolution 2. In 1969, assembly lines were automated, heralding the Industrial Revolution 3. We are currently witnessing Industrial Revolution 4, i.e., Industry 4.0 where several automated assembly lines across the supply chain, from raw material to final product, speak to each other in real time. This paper discusses in brief about Industry 4.0 with respect to the process manufacturing industry like steel, paper, power, food, etc.
Need for Industry 4.0
Providing the required product, at the required place, at the required time demands for not only automating individual processes in the value chain, but also loosely coupling these. This calls for connecting various products and processes in the supply chain, cutting across organisations and geographies, to provide a consistent and high quality Just-in-Time product. This ‘Connected Automation’ is addressed by Industry 4.0
Connected automation is achieved by bringing about digital transformation throughout the value chain of the product life cycle. Digital transformation can be broken down into three simple steps:
Connecting various sensors of physical measurement and its implied data to the internet
The connected sensors create an opportunity for visibility and transparency. The right information can easily be seen by different teams/sections of the business in real time, e.g., the production, quality and maintenance teams. This transparency helps in creating a greater understanding and arriving at a joint conclusion on key decisions like increasing production, maintaining high quality and minimising downtime.
Armed with this real time data transmission, the manufacturing information can be easily integrated with business information. This is when digital transformation starts. With the Digital Transformation, plants can switch/modify their processes flexibly and smoothly.
Take a distillery as an example – with the change in market demands due to the current pandemic situation, distilleries could seamlessly shift from manufacturing of liquor to the manufacturing of sanitisers almost overnight.
What does Digital Transformation mean for Industry?
In addition to physical products, companies will shift to providing real time services. These services will help manufacturers innovate and add value to the final product flexibly, and scale the manufacturing operation Up or Down as per market demands. This will help avoid sudden increase of inventory and it’s pricing in the ever changing world.
More companies in different segments, will join hands to overcome natural and unprecedented disasters. For example, water measurement companies will share information of current water levels across various sections of a river bed with weather forecasting agencies in real time. This will help Municipal bodies predict and alert potential disaster points across the length of the river. Timely decisions can then be taken in averting destruction to human life and property.
Every aspect like health, safety, environment, efficiency and optimisation of processes in the entire value chain will be mapped to the virtual world. Utilising the advancement in technologies, new, innovative and alternate measures will evolve to address the needs of this mapping.
Many of the older process plants would have to be digitised ‘here and now’ to remain competent in the present context. This generates the need for edge computing devices which will easily integrate with existing systems to provide real time information that captures various aspects of the process.
The unidimensional sensors currently in use are able to provide data on a single aspect, and at best some basic diagnostics. These sensors will slowly evolve to provide multidimensional user facing information. They will provide a larger amount of qualitative and relevant data in real time to multiple stakeholders simultaneously, e.g., diagnostics information to the manufacturing and the maintenance teams, consumption and generation information to the production team and quality information to the quality team. With fog computing capabilities, geographical barriers will fade and the entire value chain will be available on a single, highly interactive and a self-learning platform. This will provide an opportunity to satisfy user needs quickly and effectively.
Jayesh Suratwala is an Instrumentation Engineer, passed out from Pune University in 1999. He started his career with Forbes Marshall, handling sales for field devices like pressure and temperature transmitters and i/P Converters. He moved on to selling multi loop controllers, hybrid control systems and high end DCS systems. Jayesh is currently driving the digital initiatives for new age services across various business units of Forbes Marshall