Accialini Training & Consulting attended Advanced Factories at International Barcelona Convention Center, Spain. It has been a great opportunity to meet companies, experts and Industry 4.0 passionate.
What is Advanced Factories?
Advanced Factories is the annual meeting for industrial leaders which brings the most innovative companies in industrial automation, robotics, machine tools and digital manufacturing, together with all the Technological companies with IoT or Artificial Intelligence solutions that are driving the improvement of industrial competitiveness, new business models, new production processes “on demand” and the customization of the product that drives a new customer experience.
At the same time, the largest European Congress on industrial innovation is held, the Industry 4.0 Congress, in which leading international experts give the keys to implement new business models and delve into the most advanced technological trends around the Advanced Industry.
Why Industry 4.0?
Industry 4.0 is a trend of new digital technologies which is considered to be the 4th industrial revolution. It is characterized by extensive automation, interconnection by the internet of things, advanced big data analysis in real time, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and thus fostering “smart factories”.
The concept of Industry 4.0 became public in November 2011 at the Hannover Messe in Germany as an initiative of the german government to revitalize the german industry after the 2008 crisis: new digital technologies, used at their full potential, will enable the increase of productivity in high wage countries.
Therefore, Industry 4.0 will enable the reshoring from developing countries as the labour cost will not be a driver anymore. Moreover, new digital technologies will enable higher quality and higher flexibility at lower cost.
Industrial innovation is a topic that travels at a fast pace. In the last 5 years, Accialini Training & Consulting attended the main trade fairs in Europe about Industry 4.0, therefore we are able to identify the top technologies who are growing the fastest.
Below the top 5 industrial technology trends we found at Advanced Factories will be briefly described.
1. Wearable Technology: just a better experience
Wearable Technologies, or simply “Wearables”, are smart electronic devices that can be worn on the body as implants or accessories. More specifically, headsets are becoming more and more popular for industrial applications:
- People work hands-free: all instructions are displayed on a small screen in placed on your smart glasses;
- Remote assistance: workers in a factory, for example, don’t have to wait several minutes, often hours or even days, to get support from engineers, sometimes located in a different country. A camera is integrated on a headset so the engineers or the customer support can see the scenario the worker is experiencing, therefore get support immediately, saving time and cost.
2. Virtual Reality: better training, lower risks
Only a couple of years ago, this technology was considered only for gamers. Today the scenario has changed: more and more companies are discovering the benefits of Virtual Reality for different types of application:
- Training: HSE training can be done in a virtual, low cost and more important safe environment. Workers can be trained before a new product is launched to speed up their learning curve;
- Validation before High Capex: a digital mock up provides a great solution compared to 2D systems when a new production line or even a production facility is developed or updated. But being inside the factory, experience potential ergonomic issues, feel the space around you is something that only VR allows to do. This can be translated in reducing risks associated with high capital investments.
3. IO-Link enables the Digital Twin
IO-Link is establishing itself as the standard for IoT and eventually to enable the Digital Twin.
IO-Link standard has been developed to standardize communication with sensors and actuators. Its objective is to provide a technological platform that enables the development and use of sensors and actuators that can produce and consume enriched sets of data that in turn can be used for economically optimizing industrial automated processes and operations.
An IO-Link system consists of an IO-Link master and one or more IO-Link devices, i.e. Sensors or Actuators. The IO-Link master provides the interface to the higher-level controller (PLC) and controls the communication with the connected IO-Link devices.
IO-Link represents the required standard to:
- Enable a Digital Twin: data from different sensors and actuators must be easily managed and exploited;
- Enable IT System Integration: data can flow seamlessly at horizontal and vertical level.
4. Think Additive
There is not much to add about Additive Manufacturing, which is already well exploited by different industries worldwide. What I would like to appoint here is the incredibly step forward that this technology made in the last few years in terms of:
- Materials: plastics, rubbers and metal powders are offering a wide range of applications, before unthinkable;
- Cost: at the same time, the technology is becoming more affordable, and now even SME can decide to buy professional 3D Printers with a relatively low investment
- Time: 3D printers are becoming faster.
However, some limitations still occur:
- Knowledge: there are different additive technologies and solutions. Therefore, the risk is to buy a “Ferrari” and use it as a “Fiat 500”;
- Build Volume: especially for metal powder applications, it is still quite limited
5. Big Data Analytics: the next step after data collection
The last technology I would like to highlight is Data Analytics. In fact, most of the offer is focused to collect the massive amount of data that Digital Factories require. However, this is the easiest part (please allow me to say that!). The most difficult part is to analyze data in real-time in order to:
- Enable reconfigurable manufacturing systems: Cyber-physical systems will exchange data in order to automatically adapt in real time the production systems to new scenario, therefore fostering flexibility and high-customization
- Enable Real-time Data Driven Decision Making: virtuous companies take decision based on data. However, data analysis takes a huge amount of time. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning techniques allows to save time and get information almost instantly.
How can we help you?
Accialini Training & Consulting collected more than 12 years of international experience in the aerospace business working side by side with shop-floor professional. We are the ideal partner to:
- Train your company about the potential of the 4th industrial revolution. Have a look at our e-learning platform: www.skills4i.com;
- Identify your needs and solve your problems using new technologies;
- Support you in the technology scouting process;
- Manage your technology introduction by using the TRL and MRL process.
Contact us to discuss more in detail your needs.
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