Source: Christoph Roser at AllAboutLean.com
For me, the Industry 4.0 is much about making the (wire & cable) factory more responsive to changes in their environment. Today’s technology help to identify changes, get insight into impact and decide about corrective actions.
Changes happen: Customers cancel their order, or request modifications in constructions that have been released to the factory already. Suppliers deliver materials late, or materials don’t pass quality tests. Changes are everywhere and will always be there.
In the 20th century the industry has been very successful in reducing costs by eliminating or ignoring changes. Through mass production standard products could be produced at low costs: cars became affordable, as long as they were painted black. Later in the 20th century, Information Technology was used to allow the production of many customer-specific variations of a product (e.g. car industry), but still according to a predefined plan. Changing this complex plan was almost impossible, resulting in sub-optimizations in the supply chain. Part suppliers in the automotive industry were forced to maintain high inventory levels to keep the assembly line running.
Today, sensors are everywhere in the factory and their signals can be collected into massive streams of data (Big Data). Advanced technology can be used to convert these data into information that supports decision making by other devices or human beings: The Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT technology is a key component of Industry 4.0 as it allows to monitor the situation in the factory and detect change immediately. With this information, the production plan can be adjusted dynamically, based on the available information. For example, if the extruder reports that the line stopped unexpectedly and the insulated core did not finish properly, this information can be used to immediately adjust the production plan. The lay-up machine can start working on other jobs and ultimately the customer can be informed about a possible delay.
With Industry 4.0, the factory will be designed to deal with, or even take advantage of changes in the environment. Of course some industries will develop faster than others. As a result, companies will be able to respond faster to changes, while reducing costs.
Do you want to discuss how InnoVites can contribute to the innovation of your Wire & Cable business? Just contact us.