Manufacturing has always been at the forefront of change. Mechanization led to the first industrial revolution and caused people to move to urban centers. An era of mass production and consumption ushered in the second revolution. Computers and technology initiated the third revolution changing communication networks.
We are only at the dawn of the fourth revolution, entering greater authorization through connected digital technologies and robotics. Everything in manufacturing regarding consumers and their purchasing habits is now touched by software. The major role player behind the success of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR)will be people.
What Does this Revolution Entail?
The manufacturing industry is ahead of the revolutionary curve in many ways. Factors like continuous improvement and optimal management were applied far earlier than most sectors. A broad set of automation and digital publications have already been hosted by the following technologies:
- Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
- Digitally connected enterprise
- Expansion of data
- Artificial intelligence (AI)
A digital strategy has however eluded industry through various challenges:
- Depth of investment in technology
- Rate of investment
- Type of technology to deploy
- management of the operational transition
- Development of a skilled workforce
The Impact of 4.0 on Manufacturing
The fourth industrial revolution touches every many sectors of industry:
People have become more productive and efficient over these last three decades through the deployment of technology than ever before. Technology that does the work of the entire workforce is now being deployed.
Aspects of change can already be seen throughout all manufacturing sectors although we are yet in the early stages of 4.0
Improvement in Manufacturing Processes
Due to the predictive analytical data on production output has increased tremendously. Easy elimination processes of fault-finding decrease downtime on the manufacturing floor. Anomalies are pinpointed quicker through AI algorithms, that also suggest tools and corrections.
AI has become an integral part of the distribution and supply chain in the industry. Customer behavior and market changes can be predicted by the industrial internet of things (IIoT). Market demands are met by strategic planning through data derived from algorithms.
When material details of the product, constraints, budget, and more are included in the design process a better evaluation of all the possible product options can be achieved. The best manufacturing conditions can then be tested without human bias.
Quality throughout the innovation process is ensured. Production technologies like ML and big data are especially suited to also maintain high standards and regulations.
Optimization of supply chains:
Transparency is achieved through data sharing and utilization of AI. Faster lead time is enhancing customer service through integrating and combining:
- Data sharing
Cost and time of shipping and warehousing are reduced by implementing better strategies and algorithms analyzing data.
As hardware in the supply chain is becoming smart, the key factor is the internet of things(IoT). The actual physical landscape of warehousing has been changed by robotics and drones. MODEX 2020 looked like a scene out of a sci-fi movie. IoT has significantly improved the connectivity of existing technologies in warehouses:
- Inventory systems
- Resource allocation
Applications such as pick and pack are already transformed by robots and drones, improving reliability and reducing the cost per item. These operations work mostly with automation and sensor technologies and RFID cards.
As more manual inventory management is replaced with digital applications such as IoT logistics are becoming streamlined. Sensors and other remote devices are being deployed across the globe to track products that are being shipped. Information is fed to the internet network and this data can then be controlled remotely.
IoT is already used for route optimization and demand sensing. Drivers and shipping agents are already connected through IoT to streamline operations. Some warehouses are looking at autonomous trucks for delivery to customers. This will reduce costs and increase transparency and control throughout the system.
cation sensors provide real-time location of the shipment. The track and trace element that shipping companies are reliant on is enhanced by the internet of things.
Demand for customer services and reliability will increase the movement of the product. Greater efficiency is required pushing better connectivity. As eCommerce grows and teleservices expand the way we do business will change. Customer expectations will always be the driving force behind manufacturing.
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