Written by Albert Groothedde
In this blog, Albert Groothedde, CEO of InnoVites, elaborates on the meaning of Industry 4.0 for the Wire & Cable business. However, what is Industry 4.0? This is what Wikipedia says about it:
Industry 4.0 or the fourth industrial revolution is the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. It includes cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things and cloud computing. Industry 4.0 creates what has been called a “smart factory”. Within the modular structured smart factories, cyber-physical systems monitor physical processes, create a virtual copy of the physical world and make decentralized decisions. Over the Internet of Things, cyber-physical systems communicate and cooperate with each other and with humans in real-time, and via the Internet of Services, both internal and cross-organizational services are offered and used by participants of the value chain.
For me, 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 the 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 do not 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.
The InnoVites team is looking forward to discussing with you the benefits of modern software solutions, specific for the wire and cable industry. An innovative and sustainable IT platform is a prerequisite for companies to thrive and even survive in the Industry 4.0 era.
With 25+ years of experience as a software manufacturer in providing software solutions to your industry, at InnoVites we definitely know how IT can transform your business into a Smart Cable Factory. So you can grow your business and make it even more profitable.
Do you want to discuss how InnoVites can contribute to the innovation of your Wire & Cable business? Just contact us.
Image source: Courtesy of InnoVites