I wasn’t the first person on my block to own a smartphone.
I also don’t have one of those fancy thermostats that you can use to change the temperature of your house while you’re still at work, or one of those refrigerators that send you an email when you’re low on milk and eggs. So I understand the slow adoption of Industry 4.0. There are a lot of bells and whistles available, when it comes to new technology, for plastics processors. But it seems like most are fully engaged with Industry 3.0 right now, and are just vaguely aware of the concept of Industry 4.0.
Perhaps this is a good time for a review. Because although we’ve been writing about Industry 4.0 for three years (I checked the archives), I know a lot of readers still don’t understand what it means. Big picture, think of advances in manufacturing that started with the industrial revolution. You remember that from middle school social studies: factories started using water power, then steam power, greatly increasing output. The second industrial revolution saw massive increases in productivity thanks to assembly lines and electricity. The third — and this is where a lot of manufacturers are still focused — saw the introduction of computers and automation. Industry 4.0, or the fourth industrial revolution, is meant, once again, to bring a major step forward in manufacturing productivity. The term came from Germany, which saw a need to take advantage of its advanced technology in order to compete in the global economy, especially against competition from lower-cost countries.
So what is Industry 4.0?
It’s a little more difficult to understand, but basically it’s the advanced use of automation and data exchange in manufacturing. Thanks to advanced controls, sensors and easier-to-use software, machines of all types now pump out data. Everyone involved in keeping a plant running these days has access to all this data, and it can come in handy with things like ISO certification, tracking defects, and even keeping up with equipment maintenance.
Read the complete article published on Plastics News.