Industry 4.0 – The Changing Landscape
Published by : Industrial Automation
A human being loses memory over a period of time, especially in doing monotonous tasks over prolonged periods and the probability of making mistakes goes up, efficiency goes down and quality deteriorates. In contrast, connected physical world keeps on working efficiently as per program without any mistake for longer periods of time. Software never loses memory. Real time data transfer across the environment will have a tremendous impact on our daily lives, on the way we interact with each other, and on the way we manufacture and distribute the goods. All routine low skill jobs will be performed by machines.
Working rules are changing very fast. New challenges cannot be solved by old answers. Business has become more volatile, individual customer requirements to be met with shorter delivery time, reduced product life cycle and the need to provide 24/7 services. We are experiencing disruption in current business model but it also opens up previously unimagined potential for more productivity, flexibility and quality. Work force will manage physical assets digitally instead just controlling them physically. More skilled work force will be required to handle smart manufacturing processes.
Brief History of Industrial Revolution
Human progress started with food distribution, smooth transportation and iron making.
It was followed first by mechanisation – the steam engine, and next by electrification, and the replacement of steam. The introduction of punch card led to processing of information in manufacturing – and Digitisation started.
Development of programmable logic controllers (PLC) and microchips supported by software are the main tools of Digitisation. The machines became more productive, precise and flexible. Master and slave configured automated machines took over more dangerous and straining tasks from humans.
The need for competitive advantages in manufacturing has been historically the engine for the development of advanced and cost effective new mechanisms.
Developments in software and hardware led to the creation of the connected physical world. In new revolution people and digitally controlled machines are integrated with the help of internet and information technology.
Each object of the value chain can be uniquely identifiable and communicate independently with one another, information flows vertically from individual components all the way up to the company’s IT platform and the other way round; information also flows horizontally between machines involved in production and company’s operational technology system (OT). In smart manufacturing system, the human and the machine work collaboratively. Artificial Intelligence structure will assist in the building up these networks, doting machines with the capability to learn, reason and act basis on the information gathered during the industrial process.
It makes production system flexible, capable to address individual customer needs, able to reach every potential customer. It increases company competitiveness.
Major tools of Industry 4.0
- Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
- Vertical and Horizontal system integration
- Big data and analytics
- Cyber security
- Augmented Reality (AR)
- Autonomous Robots, and
- Additive Manufacturing.
Main Benefits of Smart Environment
The process will be quicker (Independent and No collision), more precise (nano tolerance manufacturing), more automated (analysis and determination by Artificial Intelligence), safe for workers (smart robot working in dangerous and inaccessible areas), more coordinated (human loading and unloading system), more efficient (smart motion control), and maintaining relationship between man and machine (assistive technology).
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial Intelligence is used when a machine copies the cognitive functions of human brain in learning and solving problems. AI plays three major roles: Machine Learning – Automating processes and maintenance; Cognitive Insight – Gaining insight through data analysis; and Cognitive Process – Engaging with customers and employees.
Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR, VR)
AR is a technology that layers computer generated enhancement on an existing reality in order to make it more meaningful through the ability to interact with it. AR enhances experience by adding virtual components such as digital images, graphics, or sensations as a new layer of interaction with the real world. It is being used more and more in mobile devices such as laptops, smart phones, and tablets to change how the real world and digital images, graphics intersect and interact.
VR is an artificial, computer-generated simulation or recreation of a real life environment or situation. It immerses the user by making them feel like they are experiencing the simulated reality firsthand, primarily by stimulating their vision and hearing. VR is usually delivered to the user through a head-mounted or hand-held controller. This equipment connects people to the virtual reality, and allows them to control and navigate their actions in an environment meant to simulate the real world.
Both these technologies will be more useful in robotic surgery and product design in addition to entertainment, where it is commonly used.
Robots have skills for doing what humans do with hands. They have sense and intelligence. They can perform tasks that were previously thought to be hard or expensive to automate.
Robots can be used for all routine tasks, skilled or unskilled, predictable or unpredictable jobs.
Internet of Things (IoT)
By adding sensor and communication capability, objects are identifiable in virtual world of internet. It is the main tool of Industry 4.0. It keeps on transferring real time data vertically and horizontally in IT and OT network of plants.
Complex parts can be printed in a single cycle, which avoids assembly time. It will disrupt large scale activity over a period of time. Rapid prototyping (RPT) technique reduces product development time drastically. It makes possible large scale customisation of any product.
Required Change in Workforce
Once a company is on the right track with adoption of Industry 4.0 revolution the competitiveness will go up, business will grow. They will need more manpower to handle new products and services. On the other side, manufacturing will be more capital intensive but at reduced labour cost. Advantages of low cost location will disappear. There will be major shift in manufacturing locations from off shore to on shore. Major role shall be played by leaders in industry, education and government in training and re-skilling the workforce which will remain productive using latest tools.
Industry 4.0 will bring in significant changes in how industrial workers perform their jobs, new jobs will be created while others become obsolete. It is apparent that routine and predictive work jobs will be replaced by machines. It will affect areas like administration, management, maintenance, quality control and production. However areas like R&D, human interface design, industrial data scientists, IT solution architects and user interface designers, robotics and automation, logistics, sales and service will need more manpower. It will compensate loss of jobs in other trades.
The multiple hard skills – skill to work with robots and new intelligent tools and soft skills – the unprecedented scope of changes on the shop floor will become more important. Employees will have to be more open to change, possess greater flexibility to adapt to new roles and work environments, and get accustomed to continual interdisciplinary learning.
The entire workforce will need to broaden their skill sets. First it is the onus on the organisation to retain the existing manpower and upgrade their skills by providing meaningful training. They shall give enough opportunity to the existing workforce for upgrading their skills. Employees should be ready to accept change in working environment and be ready to learn new interdisciplinary skills. Students/work force in all disciplines should have basic understanding of IT infrastructure design, principles of electronic measurement and control and programming of data science.
In general jobs related to following skill sets will be on demand in coming years (based on Future of Jobs report, World Economic Forum).
- Complex problem solving
- Critical thinking
- People management
- Coordinating with others
- Emotional intelligence
- Judgement and decision making
- Service orientation
- Negotiation, and
- Cognitive flexibility.
Industry 4.0 and Artificial Intelligence will disrupt all social and business processes over a period of time. There will be many social and economical challenges which need to be overcome. However it will make human life more comfortable provided the technology is deployed for ethical use.
ForeKen Technology (India)