Manufacturing industries have always been a competitive market. This rivalry-driven sector is in continuous search for optimization and costs reduction. With such a technology race, the Industry 4.0 revolution has been a matter of time, and the big moment has arrived. Let’s find out why the Connected Factory concept is a firm step towards smart manufacturing. We’ll also cover the steps to industrial automation and share tips on getting a competitive advantage over the market rivals.
Connected Factory: Why You Should Care About Industry 4.0 Standards
The Factory 4.0 paradigm implies that your system nodes are interconnected and can communicate with other network devices in real-time. Manufacturing excellence experts all over the industry believe that connectivity is key to moving ahead of the market. Here’s why it is an indisputable edge over a conventional data system:
- Connectivity is flexibility. The ability to adjust the system structure – at any time and without expenses – is a virtually unlimited opportunity for improvements and optimizations;
- Connectivity is scalability. The more your plant floor equipment gets autonomous, the more complex configurations you can apply in your solution;
- Connectivity is visibility. The secure and performant device network introduces the real-time data you can transform into valuable insights.
As you can see, Manufacturing 4.0 idea is not just about setting your equipment online. It is about changing your perspective on the manufacturing processes and bringing your business to a new level.
5 Steps To Integrating Industry 4.0 Technologies Into Your Manufacturing
Now that you know how the Connected Factory makes your plant floor config a better system, let’s discover 5 steps to bringing to life the manufacturing of the future today.
Step 1. Create An Equipment Network
Here’s the thing: as long as your devices stay isolated and cannot share their data, there is little you can optimize. Let’s change this. First things first, connect your machines to the Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) and set up communication protocols. You’ll need this for integrating your devices with a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) for future data manipulations.
Step 2. Build A System For Data Collection
The next step is data collecting. It is essential to gather your metrics in one place, and here’s why:
- You want your data integral. The key objective is to see the bigger picture and discover room for improvement;
- It’s significantly easier to maintain. Imagine dozens of data backups on every device you have to put together in case of an emergency.
With that said, you need a holistic data collecting solution. This is where MES comes in handy. Manufacturing Execution Systems address the issue of real-time data gathering and reporting. They withstand extreme loads and aim to provide you with information on what, when, and how happened on the plant floor.
Here at OLSOM, we understand the vital importance of flawless performance and error-resistant production. This is why our AGW MES is a scalable product able to cope with the manufacturing of any size and complexity.
Step 3. Make Sense Of Your Data
You have your data, the next step is to generate meaningful information out of it. Here are some examples of how you can use your production-related data:
- Machine availability report. Aggregate the production inactivity to discover the most impactful downtimes;
- Production quality. Sum the high-quality and defective products to have a grasp of your manufacturing quality;
Manufacturing performance. Figure out the actual production cycle time for a single item to understand where your processes need improvements.
You can find all three production metrics in the Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) KPI in our MES-related solutions.
Step 4. Analyze The Information And Take Action
Thanks to precise and detailed production info of Connected Factory, you can detect the specific machines with poor performance. This enables you to save precious maintenance time and focus on what really matters for your business.
Step 5. Discover And Automate Repetitive Processes
The ultimate goal of Factory 4.0 is to launch the quality and highly-performant manufacturing with minimum manual labor involved.
Automate your business processes by implementing automatic downtime management, develop an automated production counts gathering, integrate automatic quality wall and product packaging. The opportunities are virtually unlimited. With a Manufacturing 4.0, being a market leader is a matter of your passion for innovative approaches.
2 Things To Consider When Transferring To Industry 4.0
Integrating your manufacturing business with a Connected Factory is not a one-day challenge. It takes time to fine-tune the processes. And while you are on your journey to Industry 4.0, here are the 2 things you want to keep in mind to perform a smooth transition.
Begin Eliminating Cable Connection As Soon As You Can
Cable connection is a fundamental barrier to flexible plant floor setups. Consider this: how far you can move a printing device when connected via cable? Probably a couple of meters. Wireless connection introduces the flexibility to your device positioning. Place your Wi-Fi-connected printers – as well as any other equipment – wherever you need within the network coverage radius.
Another argument for wireless connection is the ever-growing equipment density. As you bring more and more devices to your system, it gets complicated to manage the cable connection and place your equipment ergonomically. A Cable-less alternative addresses the issue and provides you with the comfortable device density.
Opt For Experienced Software Solutions Provider
Industry 4.0 requires a set of software solutions for managing and documenting your manufacturing. MES, ERP, WMS, and other production-related systems are a must for a secure and performant system. Here are the aspects you need to look for in your software vendors:
- Industry expertise. Choose the service supplier that understands the industry and has relevant experience in building efficient systems;
- Flexible and scalable solutions. As the market evolves, you want to implement new approaches. Look for flexibility to make adjustments on the fly and for scalability to keep up with industry growth rates.
The Bottom Line
Expand your business opportunities by factory automation and integrating with Industry 4.0 technologies. Develop an integrated transition plan and choose a reputable service provider.
If you are looking for the manufacturing execution and automation software, drop us a line. OLSOM is an independent software vendor fuelled for success. We are customer-centered and committed to making the manufacturing industry a better place. Opt for OLSOM services, make the most of technologies Industry 4.0 has to offer.