Essential Industry 4.0

In today’s manufacturing landscape, unplanned downtime is one of the leading causes of lost productivity, resulting in delays, dissatisfied customers, and substantial revenue losses. Recent studies estimate that this issue alone costs industrial manufacturers a staggering $50 billion annually. However, the solution lies in embracing Industry 4.0, the digital transformation of manufacturing, which leverages data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other advanced technologies to enhance productivity, agility, customer satisfaction, and sustainability¹.

Despite the immense potential of Industry 4.0, many manufacturers still struggle to scale up their efforts and fully realize the value of their digital transformations². Financial hurdles, organizational challenges, and technology roadblocks are among the obstacles they face².

The cost of not adopting Industry 4.0 can be substantial, as evidenced by the average cost of an hour of downtime for a factory, estimated to be $260,000⁴. However, implementing Industry 4.0 solutions, such as predictive maintenance, can drastically reduce these costs³. Moreover, failing to embrace Industry 4.0 technologies means missed opportunities for improving customer service, delivery lead times, employee satisfaction, and environmental impact¹.

Industry 4.0 goes beyond addressing downtime and offers transformative benefits for manufacturers. It represents the current era of connectivity, advanced analytics, automation, and advanced manufacturing technology that has been revolutionizing global business for years². While small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) may face challenges in adopting Industry 4.0 due to limited resources and knowledge, there are also advantageous trends for them. These include new business models, value-added services, networking, collaboration, increased flexibility, and enhanced quality¹.

SMEs should not underestimate the potential of Industry 4.0. By investing in research and development related to Industry 4.0, they can tap into a market with an estimated value creation potential of $3.7 trillion for manufacturers and suppliers by 2025². This represents an unprecedented opportunity for SMEs to innovate and compete globally.

In conclusion, Industry 4.0 is not a mere buzzword but a necessity for manufacturers aiming to remain competitive and drive growth. With the significant costs associated with unplanned downtime and the tremendous potential of Industry 4.0, overcoming the challenges and embracing this digital transformation is essential. By adopting Industry 4.0 technologies, businesses can unlock increased productivity, customer satisfaction, and sustainability. SMEs, in particular, should recognize the beneficial trends and seize the opportunity to innovate and thrive in the global market. The future belongs to those who adapt and evolve with Industry 4.0.

If you have any further questions about Industry 4.0 or need more information, please ask!

How to plan for a successful POC

Companies involved in a proof-of-concept (POC) project or phased adoption approach typically begin by connecting a single system to the network and enrolling it into a manufacturing operations management system. The success of such a project relies heavily on following the right steps for deploying and commissioning the machine, along with establishing a clear framework of objectives.

Regarding large-scale information systems, network topology plays a crucial role. It encompasses layers 0, 1, and 2, determining the system’s performance, security measures, error detection capabilities, and resource utilization. To ensure an effective topology, it is important to assess and create it carefully, considering factors like performance, security, maintenance, scalability, and management.

Choosing the right machine asset(s) for a POC or phased plan requires clearly understanding the desired outcomes. The objectives may include automatically capturing operational events, and specific process data, enabling operator interaction based on operations, and even auto-creation of jobs, error reason code identification, and operator response lookup. It’s also important to consider machine-specific capabilities, such as multi-spindle functionality, pallets, tombstones, multi-part count, high-speed part count, and its position in the value stream. Is it a finishing machine determining the throughput for a group of operations? Or is it a constraint machine that collects data to assist in resolving constraints and adopting a continuous improvement methodology?

Selecting the appropriate information system for manufacturing operations involves evaluating various options. From legacy systems like SCADA and process mapping to MES, batch-run systems, and emerging operations and monitoring systems, stakeholders must prioritize their desired functions and features. The challenge lies in identifying deliverables and quantifying unexpected aspects, especially with numerous products making similar claims. Factors to consider include the system’s services, distribution capabilities, scalability, expandability, productization, breadth of intellectual property (IP) across manufacturing, IT, system integration, engineering, vendor stability, and longevity.

An essential aspect of successful adoption is the collection methodology. A system that preprocesses events by normalizing and storing them as events into a single source type proves highly efficient, reducing the need for extensive post-processing. On the other hand, systems that collect raw data events as states often face efficiency and performance issues due to analytics and metrics calculations being performed after collection.

The chosen data storage methodology determines the flexibility of the information system. Storing events as sourcing pattern events enables answering both the “what happened” and “why” questions, tracking jobs through operations, recording multiple events over time, and benefiting from an event sourcing patterns approach. Additionally, calculating metrics globally rather than individually for each object in the system reduces complexity and ensures congruent results.

Job management is a critical feature that should be supported by the system, allowing for sales orders, work orders, part numbers, product standards, and operation steps processes. These elements provide granular job-specific information, metrics, and operational states. A structured product management feature should be considered for effective job tracking.

Adaptability is another crucial aspect of a manufacturing information system, enabling the expansion of event categorization and the addition of operational and process states as needed. This flexibility is essential for continuous improvement efforts and tracking new constraint sources or non-conformity reasons.

Once the topology is established, machines are selected, and the information system is chosen, it’s time to plan and execute the roadmap for the POC or phased plan. The roadmap should consist of specific, measurable, and qualifiable objectives that can be successfully applied to the rest of the plant. Internal champions should be selected to allocate necessary production, engineering, and IT resources. Finally, a kickoff meeting with the vendor should be arranged to assess their action plan and determine the distribution of responsibilities.

MEMEX - Manufacturing Execution System

[Blog] You Need A Champion for A Successful Industry 4.0 Initiative

All the talk in manufacturing circles is around technology adoption. Whether it is AI, Machine Learning, Industry 4.0. IIoT, OEE, and other topics, it is all about applying technology to the shop floor to enhance the operations and reap the benefits, and profits. The most important aspect of any adoption plan, regardless of the technology you are pursuing, is to appoint a Champion. Thousands of POCs and projects have failed because of this one critical component, a dedicated person to take ownership of the technology.

MEMEX - Machine Monitoring

[Blog] How to dramatically shorten your thingworx deployment

Two challenges a company would face is the ability to connect machines and the ability to present valuable collected information in an intelligent and responsive manner. Both challenges are fraught with issues. Companies are seeing delays in connecting machines due to shortages of competent technical personnel, unacceptable interruptions to production as critical assets are shut down for days or even weeks during this process. MEMEX’s MERLIN Tempus EE can rapidly connect your existing machines using not only your existing thingworx approach but even better with OPC, MTConnect and FOCAS protocols. Many machines can be connected and configured in 3 hours or less.

MEMEX - OEE Factory Automation

[Blog] Do you practice insanity?

The term insight means an understanding of relationships that sheds light on or helps solve a problem. The key is to understand relationships. If your scope within the company does not span more than the department, team or group you move in, then you are ill-equipped to understand the relationships surrounding a specific constraint, issue or task. We walk in preconceptions toward any issue and ignore or discount evidence outside of our comfort zone. That’s right, our comfort zone. Attempting to understand relationships means we need to step back into a different perspective to assess all aspects surrounding a constraint, or process, or issue, etc.