Technology has reinvented manufacturing time and time again. From the assembly line that allowed rapid mass production of products to the use of robots that increased precision and speed and enhanced safety, each successive technological jump has meant great things for manufacturing.
The next big technological advance to revolutionize manufacturing may well be machine learning algorithms. They call it Industry 4.0, and it’s a way that computers and automated machines can come together in a way that produces better manufacturing with less human effort.
The idea is that the controlling computer uses algorithms to tell the machines what to do, increasing precision on both sides and eliminating the need for a constant human presence. Humans will never be entirely eliminated from the equation. They will still be needed to program the machines, maintain them and make adjustments, as well as to plan manufacturing strategies and develop goals. But much of the day-to-day work can be truly automated.
The computers use algorithms to monitor and talk to the machines and tell them what to do, recording and reporting all relevant data to the humans overseeing the operation. The lack of need for any kind of central command means you need to take much less time to make decisions and there is less chance for confusion among communications.
You complete manufacturing tasks faster, more efficiently and more accurately, while retaining the other traditional benefits of automation such as eliminating fatigue and increasing safety for human workers.
Creating Industry 4.0 in Your Manufacturing Operations
Do you think your manufacturing company could benefit from Industry 4.0? Your plan for turning your manufacturing operation into an Industry 4.0 structure requires four elements:
- Decentralized Decisions: Computer-robot systems can make decisions on their own, independent of any other input.
- Universal Assistance: Computer-robot systems can help human operators make decisions and independently perform tasks that might be dangerous for humans.
- Information Duplication: Systems make a virtual copy of the world in order to make sense of the information they receive and apply it to real-life situations.
- Interoperability: Computers, robots, people and sensors all have the functionality to interact and communicate with each other.
Starting With Industry 4.0
As with any new strategic manufacturing plan, having an Industry 4.0 facility may take some getting used to. There may be some trial and error before you have a setup in place that works. Before long, however, it is likely that everyone will be moving to this model or even to the next step beyond this model. The sooner you can get your facilities on board, the better. Naturally, there may be some drawbacks, especially at first, and the loss of some human jobs is probably inevitable.
However, new technology also creates new job opportunities and the benefits to your company of having an Industry 4.0 system in place may allow you to offer better conditions and better perks to the employees you retain, not to mention higher profits for the company as a whole.