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How Companies Are Using Industry 4.0 to Improve Operations

Technology is a significant part of the 21st century. Strong and profitable companies are continually looking for ways to improve efficiency and cut down on errors, as it is essential to implement technology to survive as a business. By improving technological processes, companies can reduce costly errors and mistakes.

The Three Industrial Centuries Before

The manufacturing industry has gone through three industrial revolutions and is now entering into its fourth. The first industrial revolution occurred in the 18th century and consisted of mass production by using water and steam power. This revolution helped to lessen the workload on humans and animals. The second industrial revolution occurred a century later and initiated assembly lines and used oil, gas, and electric power to increase automation and mass production. The third industrial revolution came about in the middle of the 20th century when computers and data analysis helped share and collect data on an easier scale. Today, the industry is entering into the fourth industrial revolution, also called Industry 4.0, according to IBM.

Industry 4.0 Attraction

Industry 4.0 is currently the peak of automation and smart factories. This industrial revolution is allowing companies to gather more data from the factory floor and combine that with other enterprise operation data, which results in a smart factory that can achieve information transparency and better decisions. There are many advanced technological features being implemented during this industrial revolution, but the two most stand-out technologies consist of Internet of Things and artificial intelligence.

Implementation of Internet of Things in the Industry

According to IBM, “the Internet of Things is the billions of physical devices around the world that are now connected to the internet, all collecting and sharing data.” While the Internet of Things (IoT) can be implemented from a wide range of items, such as toothbrushes and automobiles, the manufacturing industry is seeing IoT being used in connection with predictive maintenance. By implementing IoT, companies are now able to reduce production downtime since the IoT technology gathers machine data; this data consists of machine temperature, vibrations, and voltage, via sensors and transmissions. The data is then maintained in a cloud-based data storage platform, where it is continuously being updated. Based on the information maintained from the machine’s sensors and transmissions, the companies will then be able to receive regular feedback to reveal potential maintenance issues and avoid machine failures, as the cloud-based software will give warning that the machine needs an item repaired. With the implementation of IoT, companies will lower unexpected downtime and increase machine efficiency.

Artificial Intelligence in Manufacturing

A topic that has received much attention lately is artificial intelligence (AI). While artificial intelligence has been used for many decades, the manufacturing industry is now using AI more than ever. Organizations can be seen implementing AI to improve demand forecasting, increase productivity, and to reduce waste at a company level. Companies have started the use of “cobots,” a robot that is able to work alongside humans. The use of cobots allows work to be done 24/7. Cobots have increased the output of items for companies without increasing the waste or errors.

Companies also benefit from AI by proactive and predictive maintenance. Similar to IoT, AI monitors and analyzes data at a high level to predict and prevent any unexpected breakdowns from occurring. Lastly, AI has been able to help the manufacturing industry automate quality checks. Companies can implement image recognition, which can be used to alert members of company defects that may have occurred during production. This technology can help to improve the satisfaction of customers and the company’s reputation.

Please reach out to a member of our Manufacturing & Distribution team for more information on the topic outlined above. For more information regarding our Manufacturing & Distribution experience, visit our Manufacturing & Distribution industry page.

About the Author

Laura Sherman

Laura joined McKonly and Asbury in 2023. She is currently a Senior Accountant on the firm’s Commercial Assurance & Advisory Segment.

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