What is Industry 4.0?
When we talk about industry 4.0, also known as the fourth industrial revolution, we talk about applying new technologies in factories and production processes to improve the results obtained. These are new technologies that we use to advance in the automation of production processes. In short, transforming traditional factories into smart, more automated and effective factories.
To understand Industry 4.0 we have to think about the key technologies that allow us to create this smart factory concept.
From all types of data that can be obtained from a productive process, the one which provides more information are the images. Therefore, computer vision is increasingly used in factories. Computer vision systems provide information on the production environment and are used for many different applications, for example, quality systems, defect control, metrology, code readers using OCR etc. There are many types of sensors that are used in vision systems, from 2D 4K cameras to hyperspectral cameras. This allows to cover many work areas and many industrial sectors.
Computer vision is often combined with collaborative robotics, another of the technologies of industry 4.0. Collaborative robotics is a new concept of robotics that allows people and robots to be located in the same workspace. These new robots have integrated sensors of various types that make you aware of your surroundings and provide the necessary security so that people and robots can live in the same space. These robots combined with cameras are capable of making precise assemblies, pick & place, and even more complicated pickings with chaotic parts.
Although most of the time we think in augmented reality focused on consumption or marketing, the truth is that it has many more applications and some of them inside the factories. For example, guided maintenance tasks or complicated connections, improved ergonomics of the workstation, visual guidance of assembly or packaging processes. All this improves cycle times and prevents errors.
Artificial intelligence is applied in systems that have to be able to process and learn from the information they receive and be able to act autonomously. For this, systems based on neural networks and machine learning algorithms are developed, which, through data, learn to classify samples and make decisions. The more data, the more they learn and the more accurate these systems become.
Internet of things
The internet of things or IoT, allows devices, objects or processes to be interconnected and interact with each other. This can be applied both to the production processes of a factory and to daily life, for example, in the area of household appliances and home automation. To be able to turn on the heating of your home from your mobile, or know when the food in your fridge will expire …
Cybersecurity, another of the fields of industry 4.0, arises precisely from the need to take security measures in the new interconnected infrastructure and to protect industries from cyber-attacks. Therefore, new machines are designed and manufactured with cybersecurity measures that prevent and protect against these attacks.
Big Data and Cloud Computing
All these processes generate data that is really valuable and that analyzed in the correct way provide many benefits. These data provide information that can be analyzed to identify patterns, failure models, etc. In this way, you can optimize processes, perform continuous improvement actions and have a detailed analysis of the entire production chain. Therefore, Big data and Cloud Computing, which allows the use of network storage services to store all this data, are increasingly used in our industries. With this data it is possible to teach the machines to make decisions which leads us to the concept of artificial intelligence.
Finally, we talk about 3D printing that allows us to innovate with new materials and design everything imaginable. With this technology it is possible to reduce costs, for example, in the creation of prototypes or small series, as well as allowing us very complex pieces in record times.