Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Industrial IOT is a component of Industry 4.0

Is Industry 4.0 about Internet of Things?  In reality, Internet of Things is more of a evolution of necessity, rather than a technology breakthrough.  In the earlier versions of industrialization, one thought that automation was the key to creating operational efficiencies.  Machines can perform jobs better and with lesser error rates than humans.  That solves one definite problems.
Machines however cannot solve some problems - complex formulations, multi-recipe scenarios in a single line, or multiple lines which feed into each other ( Intermediate product).  The complexities start right from raw materials all the way to finish goods.  The key factor is that when a decision is to made 'in real time' in terms of changing the formula, or prioritizing a mix, or tracking a small piece of exception,  most of the times, there is either a reject, or a delay in decision for which the assembly line has to stopped.  The fact is that the machines do talk.  And the machine to human communication (M2H) and machine to machine communication (M2M) makes the entire process more interactive, thereby being able to understand the 'context' or 'situation' the process or the individual machine is in. 
IOT is a part of  Industry 4.0 
Internet of Things is a disruptive technology - and is part of Industry 4.0.  The key here is to make the sensors more intelligent, and the information exchange that happens either to act, continue or stop ( real time decisions and action and thereafter storing information to practice analytics to enable operational planning ( even though retrospective or historian).  
In many cases, IOT is still finding its way for application - in complex situations like above, manual entry is still there. However, elimination of unreliable data input ( due to delayed and erratic entries) and disconnected systems is what makes the whole thing smart - smart here is about empowering the 'line operators' and 'managers' to take real time decisions on the shop floor.   Irrespective of the reason, if the shop floor operative is able to take a decision - and is able to record the action real time, lot of operational inefficiencies will vanish.   
What this means is - manufacturing excellence is a continuous pursuit - but the key factor to excellence is to create real time information availability at the hands of the actual action owners - through connected systems.  IOT definitely has a role, but is not the be-all and end-all of Industry 4.0. 
-Ashok Subramanian
Cherunathury Tech Ventures (c) 2015


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