IIT Hyderabad

Gearing up for the evolution of Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 has assumed a critical consideration in the overall scheme of things of the business ecosystem in general and industrial as well as the manufacturing domain in particular. What started as connecting the unconnected i.e. the physical components transformed into a digital ecosystem through the use of IIoT, has now evolved to reach a scale that goes well beyond the first generation of Industry 4.0.

For instance, business demands or rather expectations from Industry 4.0 encompass aspects such as work environment safety, industrial analytics, optimum supply chain management, pre-empting cyber-attacks, and enabling smart factories to cite a few. Thus Industry 4.0 is now expected to possess capabilities that not only enhance operations but also institutionalize business excellence.

The evolved version of Industry 4.0 includes under its purview use of new-age concepts such as 3D printing that have the capability to score high on not only operational aspects but also strategic objectives such as go-to-market. This proves that Industry 4.0 has advanced to assist product launches at optimum cost reduction ratios. The purview of Industry 4.0 now extends beyond support to assume a consultative role to the extent that businesses are able to redefine their revenue modules altogether.

Additionally, with change being the only constant, the requirement of businesses has evolved as well with parameters such as scalability challenges, diminishing role of humans, and uncertain return on investments faced by manufacturing players assuming high priority. These are being addressed by Industry 4.0, by adopting a solution-based, human-centric scalable approach to smart factories.

The next generation of Industry 4.0 involves an approach that is more human-centric and RoI-driven including making it possible to scale digital even in a factory setup. The evolved version of Industry 4.0 puts focus on Digital Manufacturing Solutions integrating Product Lifecycle Management, Manufacturing Operations, Manufacturing Engineering, Asset Management and Product Information Management thereby creating a value-based digital transformation roadmap.

Some of the other salient features of next generation of Industry 4.0 include:

Optimum Quality Delivery:

Industry 4.0 solutions of the future will be equipped to ensure the best of quality quotients with the intelligent analytics incorporated in them, helping one to identify various bottlenecks and causes of poor quality.

Predictive maintenance:

Leveraging from the capabilities of machine learning, proactive notification to machine operators about potential machine failure helps preempt any breakdown related apprehensions and thus ensures continuity of operations.

Factory Design and Simulation:

With an evolved version of Industry 4.0, a digital simulation of factories is possible, which enable the creation of discrete virtual models of the factory and ensures that they are operating at peak efficiency before the start of the production. Customers can foresee the outcome of plans within virtual environments and scenarios and avoid wasting valuable resources fixing problems within their real plants.

Energy Manager:

Next-generation Industry 4.0, also has led to an emergence of concepts such as Energy Manager which is a comprehensive data-driven utility conservation solution to reduce operational expenses, measure on-site data, conduct audits, and perform analysis. Manufacturing companies can now look towards meeting their carbon footprint reduction goals such as on aspects related to water, air, fuel, electricity, and steam and assists in real-time monitoring for plant KPIs via digitalized dashboards, which ultimately helps to streamline energy and waste-water management.

Lean IQ:

Industries focusing on improving productivity levels can leverage from the use of lean IQ enabled by next-generation Industry 4.0. A 3M model analysis helps identify and understand the constraints of specific industries.

In conclusion, the evolution of Industry 4.0 is imminent as businesses grapple to match pace with the rapid changes in the environment. The times ahead, indeed auger well for the adoption of Industry 4.0 on a wider scale as compared to prevailing levels. The key to success will lie in aligning new-age Industry 4.0 solutions to the needs of the businesses.

By Dr. Keshab Panda, CEO and Managing Director, L&T Technology Services

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