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The potential for inclusion of automation in industry using the premise of inclusion of industrie 4.0 and IIOT for SMEs

Industry 4.0

An extract, written by Rob Bowen, from a forthcoming book with co-authors Bob Dream and Gail Evans on the potential for inclusion of automation in industry using the premise of inclusion of industrie 4.0 and IIOT (the industrial internet of things) for SMEs

Where does Industrie 4.0 or IIoT sit in the continuum of existence?

The path to Industrie 4.0 and IIoT (the Industrial Internet of Things) is more apparent when considered over time. Overlooking these concepts leads us to mentally more readily appreciate the potential for a rapid move to Industrie 5.0 and beyond through understanding the steps that could lead to the complete lack of human involvement in manufacturing based decision making.

As with any situation, to go forward we always need to know where we are and it is sensible to understand where we have come from and why. From a manufacturing perspective this means taking a holistic overview. Tracking back to appreciate the changes in manufacturing since the impact of the first industrial revolution on through to current times and onward to future possibilities.

“Intelligent Manufacturing” – Are We There Yet?

Like the constant child’s question from the back seat of the automobile “Are we nearly there yet?” the respondent needs to know the direction of travel, environment, speed (or likely speed, as that may vary) and where home is, i.e. the final location. Unfortunately, when it comes to predictions of environment, speed and final location we can only make scientific probability based educated guesses based on what we know at the time of enquiry. So, simplistically, what we can reasonably do is track the path to the current location and consider the available options looking forward. 

What is “Intelligent Manufacturing” …a brief (history or overview) of process control/improvement

“Intelligent manufacturing” may be described as the manufacturing of products using processes that are guided by intelligent systems or software algorithms that allow a capacity to feed back and forward during the course of a process in order to make value or quasi-value judgements ensuring a correctly produced product outcome. In advanced systems the non-human intelligent manufacturer may be using neural networks in order to make judgement calls on direction and volume.

This suggests that complete artificial intelligence based manufacturing systems would be able to forward assess market information, call up materials and produce the correct volume of suitably quality controlled product at the right price aimed at any given market and, subsequently, dependent on market forces close down to an economically viable production level that suits the market environment, or stop production; at all stages reporting back in a required format to the human operative, be that company board or product manager.

Intelligent manufacturing processes have been, are or will, in one form or another take over from or add to what are now considered to be “traditional” human controlled and guided mechanical processes guided by, for example, simple timers and switching or direct mechanical motion with gearing and physical impact methods to direct and produce the products required by our lifestyle and workplace expectations.

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