OpScoop Issue 15 : Industry 4.0

What if I tell you that automation is a thing of the past?

Over the years machines have been the best friends of us, the human beings. At the end of the 18th century we got Industry 1.0 based on the introduction of mechanical production equipment driven by water and steam power. Nearly a hundred years later, before the end of 19th century, the conveyor belt in Cincinnati Slaughterhouse was a prime example of Industry 2.0 based on mass production achieved by division of labour concept and the use of electrical energy. As the timeline moved forward, Industry 3.0 came into picture as Electronics and Information Technology began to expand rapidly into industry. The first programmable logic controller in 1969 and the advent of automation in the later stages revolutionized production. And now is the time for Industry 4.0, when machines are set to be intelligent and the new age factories, where all systems are interconnected due to the advent of cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things(IoT), Cloud Computing and Cognitive Computing.

Let us now dive into the world of Industry 4.0 and know the effects of it.

The popular aspects of Industry 4.0 viz. Cloud Computing and Cognitive Computing are already present in the current scenario but the game changer is the Cyber Physical system along with Internet of Things (IoT) and interoperability.

One of the main aspects of Industry 4.0 is to have standardized modules which can be connected and combined quite easily. Each of these modules has a particular functionality and in the future, can be combined to form an Internet within the factory. This is why Cyber Physical system and interoperability go hand in hand. The term Interoperability can be used when machines, devices, sensors, and people are able to connect and communicate seamlessly with each other via the Internet of Things (IoT) or the Internet of People (IoP). A proficient Cyber Physical system is one where there is network of interacting elements with physical input and output instead of standalone devices. Here, computational intelligence leads the way as the notion is closely tied to concepts of robotics and sensor networks with intelligence mechanisms.

For example, a bottle in the production line communicates effortlessly with each component, giving them the right information about the liquid to be filled, the cap to be used and the label to be pasted. All of the above information is passed from each bottle to the respective component as it passes through the entire production line. The next bottle can be of a different size, different shape and must be filled with a different liquid. This doesn’t mean that we require different sets of machinery for different products.

It is imperative, that in the future we will be surrounded by everything intelligent. Let us remain excited about this new opportunity and the new world of connected machinery, which is Industry 4.0!

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