Industry 4.0

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The term industry 4.0 has been trending for the past few years as it refers to the fourth industrial revolution. With industry 4.0 modern smart technology is being used to create fully automated factories through the use of automated machines, particularly industrial robots. Many manufacturers now use some form of robotic automation in their production process. In today’s factories it is common to see more articulated robots than workers as the fourth industrial revolution evolves.

There are three aspects of industry 4.0. The first is the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT involves connecting automated equipment to a central network. This allows for the gathering of data for a streamlined and digitalized manufacturing process. The second aspect is M2M (machine to machine) communication. This is made possible through the first aspect, IoT. M2M communication allows machines to exchange data between one another in real-time for a completely autonomous operation. Machines being able to send data and respond to one another significantly decreases or eliminates the need for any human involvement. The third aspect is task data collection. In order for machines to be able to communicate to one another they must have data to exchange. Data is collected from each component of a manufacturing process. The combination of automated equipment and digitalized data provides a powerful source for data interpretation, streamlining the most critical information for real-time decision making.

Robots are Key to Industry 4.0

Robots are the main driver for industry 4.0. Industrial robots are highly sophisticated machines capable of automating just about any production related task, which makes them an easy choice when transitioning manual tasks to automated ones. The FANUC M-20ia is a multipurpose robot that can be deployed to automate an entire sequence of tasks. Robotic technology such as robotic vision systems and force sensors provide robots with greater autonomy. Integrating the FANUC M-710ic with vision allows it to use visual feedback for processing data in real-time for dynamic decision making. As industrial robots have evolved the need for human interaction has decreased allowing for the transition to industry 4.0 in manufacturing. Industrial robots can release a company’s maximum manufacturing capacity through increased throughput, higher product quality, and faster cycle times.

How did Manufacturing get to Industry 4.0?

The push towards high automation factories through industry 4.0 can be attributed to a few key factors. The first is the advancement of robotic technology. Today’s robots have come a long way from the first industrial robots. The improvement of robotic technology has allowed robots to automate more complex applications, handle various production volumes, adapt to unpredictable scenarios, and communicate with one another. All of these have setup for the development of fully automated factories.

Another factor contributing to this fourth industrial revolution is the shortage of workers. Many industries are unable to fill positions with less of the workforce seeking factory work. Automating factories with robots eliminates worker shortages and high turnover for more consistent operations.

The last factor in the development of industry 4.0 is the rising costs of manufacturing. Costs are rising everywhere from utilities to materials to labor. Fully automated factories combat rising costs allowing manufacturers to maintain higher revenues while still offering their products at a competitive price for consumers.

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