Industrial Maintenance in the Age of Industry 4.0
It has been just a decade since the term “Industry 4.0” was coined as part of a German initiative to increase the competitiveness of its manufacturing industry. Industry 4.0 is used interchangeably with the Fourth Industrial Revolution and is characterized by the use of innovative technologies such as cyber-physical systems, automation, cloud computing, and more.
One of the factors that distinguishes the Fourth Industrial Revolution from its predecessors is the rate of technological advances. While the first three industrial revolutions experienced gradual and incremental improvements, Industry 4.0 has involved the rapid proliferation of digital and cyber technologies into all facets of manufacturing and operations. This is especially true of predictive maintenance technologies that are revolutionizing industrial processes.
The unprecedented global health pandemic has fundamentally shifted organizational priorities. As organizations in nearly every industry accelerated their digital transformation initiatives to remain operational. For manufacturers, the ability to quickly scale operations up or down to meet consumer demand while increasing productivity and reducing costs became top priorities. To achieve these objectives, manufacturers are turning to Industry 4.0 technologies to digitalize their industrial maintenance processes.
Industry 4.0 Design Principles
The transition to Industry 4.0 requires a calculated and forward-looking approach. Researchers have identified several key design principles that help organizations maximize the benefits of Industry 4.0 technologies.
- Interoperability. Machines and people must be able to communicate and exchange data in every industrial process. This allows organizations to achieve digital transformation at scale while a lack of interoperability results in limited automation use cases and inefficiencies.
- Information Transparency. Stakeholders require real-time access to integrated data from all points in the process. Relying on data and insights, organizations can identify inefficiencies and take a proactive approach to remedy inefficiencies.
- Technical assistance. Systems support humans by increasing visualization of data to enable informed decision-making and by automating manual and time-consuming tasks.
- Decentralization. Industry 4.0 involves decentralizing all technology to give cyber-physical systems a degree of autonomy to make their own decisions and perform tasks. Decentralization increases productivity, reduces costs, and helps provide standardization across operational processes.
By following these design principles, organizations can work towards developing a comprehensive preventative and predictive maintenance program. To successfully transition to Industry 4.0, operations leaders must change their organizational mindset and choose the right technologies to empower their people.
Key Industry 4.0 Technology Components
While there are many Industry 4.0 technologies, the following components are the most crucial to preventive and predictive maintenance processes.
Cloud-based technologies are a vital component of Industry 4.0 systems. With cloud computing, organizations can easily collect, transmit, store, and analyze data from their systems and machines. Cloud technologies are cost-effective solutions, allowing organizations to scale their digital transformation initiatives without significant upfront capital investments in IT infrastructure.
Industrial IoT (IIoT)
The IIoT is the technology responsible for collecting and transmitting data from devices and equipment. Data collected by sensors is evaluated against rules to automatically trigger an event such as a notification to send a technician to check a piece of equipment with a measurement out-of-spec.
Cyber-physical Systems (CPS) and Big Data
A CPS turns massive amounts of data (Big Data) into information that can be acted upon. It creates insightful views of the invisible patterns of physical asset degradations and inefficiencies. The data supports preventive and predictive maintenance planning, but it also can result in devices automatically making physical adjustments based on the data.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
With AI, machines learn over time to replicate human actions and decision-making. AI achieves this by processing large volumes of data and identifying patterns.
Machine Learning (ML)
ML involves teaching computers to identify patterns and perform tasks based on predefined rules and logic. ML technologies play an integral role in automating manual and time-consuming tasks to increase productivity.
Mobile asset maintenance solutions are an important component in Industry 4.0 maintenance operations. They provide technicians in the field with real-time access and connectivity to the data they need to stay focused on their tasks and quickly react to an urgent need.
Predictive Maintenance and Industry 4.0
Those organizations that had openly embraced Industry 4.0 technologies prior to the pandemic were able to adapt quickly while others were forced to play catchup. A recent McKinsey survey found that “56 percent of respondents that had not implemented Industry 4.0 technologies prior to COVID-19 found themselves constrained by their ability to respond to COVID-19 in the absence of digital technologies to support them,” while “Companies that had scaled Industry 4.0 use cases prior to COVID-19 found themselves better positioned to respond to the crisis.”
As organizations seek to improve operational flexibility and cut costs in the wake of the pandemic, Industry 4.0 technologies will play an increasingly important role. Operations teams that have yet to make the leap must start now or risk falling further behind. Innovative cloud-based predictive maintenance solutions can help organizations cost-effectively scale their transition to Industry 4.0.
Countless manufacturers have transformed their maintenance processes with Sigga’s industry-leading EAM solutions. Sigga Mobile EAM digitalizes the entire maintenance process and connects users in real-time. The app offers online and offline seamless background sync to SAP PM and helps organizations eliminate paper-based processes. Moreover, Sigga’s Planning and Scheduling solution displays data in one easy-to-use interface. Users can quickly assign work using the drag-and-drop UI while the advanced scheduling algorithm automatically prioritizes tasks and facilitates the schedule creation.
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