Written by Carlos Rojas, Global Industry Solutions Leader, Cisco Systems, Inc.
What is Industry 4.0?
Although many demands on manufacturers drive the need for change (increased customer preferences, improved methods of product access, new delivery and consumption models, and of course the neverending desire to have higher value for one’s spend), the one constant behind all changes in manufacturing processes, technologies and operations, is the pursuit of continuous improvement.
As such, the world of manufacturing is betting on new technologies and data analytics to obtain “maximum optimization”; and these things neatly fall under the business strategy known as Industry 4.0.
Continuous improvement in manufacturing varies in all companies depending on their:
- Investments in process optimization
- Integration of technology
- Executive leadership supporting the need to adapt to market demands.
The tenants of a manufacturing strategy like Industry 4.0, facilitate all of the above because manufacturers can readily see the benefits these tenants bring to their continuous improvement goals.
Embracing new opportunities
Industry 4.0, or what many call the 4th Industrial Revolution follows the Mechanization in the Steam powered era, the “Henry Ford Mass Assembly” era supported by the use of electricity, and the Computer Assisted and Automation era. Industry 4.0, is fundamentally focused on bringing together the Physical world to the Cyberworld to gain new insights into processes, as well as introducing new technologies such as:
- Augmented Reality to simulate design and manufacturing in order to test designs and processes before they begin in production; thus speeding New Product Introduction Cycles and avoiding costly production problems like defects and machining or assembly problems.
- Additive Manufacturing (or 3D Printing) to perform rapid prototyping, complex part manufacturing, and spare part creation.
- Co-Bots designed to physically interact with humans in a shared workspace in order to supplement workloads.
- Artificial Intelligence used to aid workers in process set-up, run and troubleshooting activities, and to aid manufacturing in future machine learning activities when combined with data lakes and “big data” initiatives.
In all cases, these new technologies are designed for process improvement and they all have one common thread, data-driven systems that all require some level of “cyber” connectivity to achieve that “uber process improvement” everyone seeks.
Taking into account the need for digital functionality of all of these technologies, and the future data workloads these systems will demand, Cisco is in a unique position to enable the adoption and integration of these new systems into a manufacturers business system securely and at massive scale.
Best practices for adoption and integration
Given the evolutions of manufacturing and the associated technologies with the various eras in manufacturing, adopting and integrating these technologies into current operations can get complex and costly if not executed wisely. As such, there is a need for more than just technology to realize the benefits of “The 4th Industrial Revolution”.
Cisco partners with leading industry firms to further integrate legacy systems and technologies into a common network. Here’s what Sudhi Bangalore, VP Industry 4.0, Stanley Black and Decker says about the need for partners in the Industry 4.0 journey:
“Our carefully selected ecosystem of partners bring a unique differentiation…”
In addition to creating an Eco-System of committed partners, Stanley Black and Decker has built and will operate a learning and development facility known as “The Nerve Center” to help with the on-going adoption of new technologies and process improvement.
“Serving our global network of 115 factories, this center will give us the ability to optimize yield and on-time performance of all our major assets using the latest real-time collaboration and analytical techniques.”
As this longtime manufacturing executive sees it, one day, a successfully deployed Industry 4.0 initiative can one day deliver that “maximum process improvement” plant that we all seek. Here’s to the age of autonomous plant improvement occurs where people, process and machines continued to make the best products that offer maximum value to their consumers!
From big data to autonomous robots, Industry 4.0 brings a wealth of new opportunities to grow and expand your business. Which is why our solutions are built to work for your long-term plans — So you can stay ahead of industry trends and break into untapped markets with a flexible and secure foundation that’s ready to evolve with you. When you choose Cisco, you’re not just investing in technology that solves today’s problems, you’re building a reliable foundation for the future that’s ready to support growth and adapt to evolving trends. Want to learn more? Explore the Top 6 Reasons Manufacturers Turn to Cisco
Global Industry Solutions Leader
Cisco Systems, Inc.