Today in age, the competitive strength of industries mainly relies on the ability of companies to improve the performance of their production systems and boost the flexibility and agility of said systems. This road for development mobilizes technological activities which we group under the term “advanced manufacturing”: software and technology for computing, automation, cross-referencing of information and networking to which we also integrate material forming processes. Positioned among the processes of the fourth industrial revolution—the digital revolution—, these advancements rely on tools based on simulation, modeling and virtualization.
Context and perspectives for Industry 4.0
Beyond the profound industrial changes this revolution has orchestrated, it has also uprooted society. As for consumers, they have modified their habits and are now seeking personalized, custom-made solutions that correspond to their increasingly more specific needs. Some consumers even go so far as to become involved in the manufacturing process of the products they consume. In response to these new types of demands, companies are expanding their product ranges and developing mass customization techniques in order to offer personalized products at prices and production times comparable to those of products manufactured in mass.
Faced with these new major challenges, we will have to rethink many areas of industrial production systems and implement numerous transformations:
- Launch a widespread deployment of digital technology from different areas, from the Internet to embedded systems and serious games.
- Make advances in work organizational models and reconcile jobs and players.
- Develop the capacity of machines to adapt to production needs with broader integration into the production system by integrating humans into these systems.
- Expand the scope of the production cycle to include recycling and resource management.
- Implement a principle to assist the actions and interventions carried out by humans on the system, whether during the product concept phase (with virtualization and immersion) or during production, by monitoring and guiding actions so they are sparingly carried out and by integrating knowledge and feedback into the production system.
- Make advancements in robotics.
All these transformations can only lean but on a few major technological innovations, which are the intrinsic pillars for any industrial revolution.
New key technology for Industry 4.0
These smart machines record their past actions and are thus able to self-perfect themselves in order to render their future actions more efficient and productive. Advances in artificial intelligence gradually enable these learning machines to go a little further day after day in initiating innovative processes.
Robots and smart controllers
Capable of carrying out increasingly more complex and precise tasks in shorter periods of time, they can also interact with their environment according to which they can define their automated actions. They can also go into standby mode to save energy and can detect assembly errors.
Maintenance and control
Also reaping the benefits of industrial digitalization, maintenance and control operations are now carried out in real time and are not limited to just predicting future malfunctions. Sensors continuously detect errors that may lead to breakdowns, dangers or technical failures occurring in the production tool or to the product. Technical teams therefore do not follow a predetermined schedule but intervene based on real-time information provided by the machines. Certain innovations such as augmented reality smart glasses are even being used to facilitate an operator’s work during conventional maintenance operations.
Having replaced costly physical prototypes and resolved issues over storage, additive manufacturing, more commonly known as “3D printing”, is undeniably one of the major players in this fourth industrial revolution. This new digital design technique creates numerous advantages. It is now possible for industries to work with suppliers based on more concrete elements and to question the feasibility of production, assess and test manufacturing constraints and even carry out simulations to adapt, improve and customize products.
This innovative technology has created a new way of managing industrial performance that is based on gathering, recognizing, exploiting and analyzing key data provided throughout the production chain. Big data technology must, therefore, be supervised with a suitable cybersecurity solution.
The major catalysts of change for Industry 4.0
In order to give you an overview of the major changes in the industrial sector, pushed forward by the rise of Industry 4.0, here is a list of the major catalysts of change, the technology they mobilize and their advantages for industrial production.
- Additive manufacturing and prototyping: 3D printing enables us to create visual and functional prototypes with no limitations on shape.
- Virtual factory: The technology used in virtual factories prevents the majority of costly risks that can occur when setting up a production line.
- Remote management: Remote access provides increased flexibility and the ability to offer new services to users.
- Environment sensors: With sensors, we can anticipate dates for intervening on the machines based on their real conditions. This reduces costs and increases the availability of machines.
- ECR (Efficient consumer response): These best practices are aimed at sharing information and facilitating production planning in order to improve objectivity when the different players involved take decisions.
Manufacturing operations (production tools)
- Smart cobots and robots: Smart collaborative robots help humans without replacing them.
- Direct manufacturing: With technology, we can obtain parts based on a digital definition, without tools or equipment, and within record time.
Services (Integration, maintenance)
- Predictive maintenance: Predictive management of maintenance over time avoids stopping production as a result of breakdowns.
- Industrial Internet of Things: This brings intelligence closer to components/cybersystems while equipping the latter with a quicker local decision-making capacity.
- Cloud computing: makes it possible to use software without acquiring licenses but also creates a closer collaboration between industries and sites.
- Big Data Analytics: This technique can solve problems, which were up until now unsolvable, by analyzing large data sets.
- Energy Harvesting: In Industry 4.0, it will be possible to install components in the most suitable place without having to worry about a power supply.
To better protect OT, we must be able to understand how it will evolve and to determine the different processes we will need to consider in the future. That is why Sentryo strives every day to analyze and understand the different advancements giving rise to Industry 4.0 and to offer a solution suited to cybersecurity: ICS CyberVision.