Future trends for Industry 4.0 for 2019 and beyond
The future of Industry 4 is continuously evolving as existing technologies mature and new technologies emerge. There is no doubt that Industry 4.0 is the next logical step for manufacturing.
Many large companies are already making use of Industry 4.0 techniques. The rest of the market will be forced to implement these techniques or risk being left behind and becoming irrelevant in their industry.
The benefits of Industry 4.0 are just too significant to ignore, some of these key trends are listed below.
Increased adoption of Industry 4.0
Companies that are not able to make the jump to complete Industry 4.0 will begin to implement chunks of these systems in areas of their businesses that can most easily produce immediate financial benefit. Companies that make use of ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and MRP (Material Requirements Planning) systems can already see the benefits of automating their administrative processes and will therefore be in a position to implement similar methods on the shop floor.
Improved human-machine cooperation
Human to machine interaction will be further improved to allow for an almost seamless integration. Technologies that will enable this integration include augmented reality, better sensors that allow machines to sense humans working around them and improved AI systems that enable machines to anticipate human movements and actions, allowing these machines to better work alongside humans.
Industry 4.0 consultants
Companies that offer Industry 4.0 consultation services will be on the rise. There is still a fair amount of confusion regarding Industry 4 and how to cost-effectively implement it into existing businesses. This is where consultants will fill the gap, providing services that analyse existing companies and advising how they can implement Industry 4 systems into their factories without damaging their business.
Accessible industrial sensor technology
Industrial sensors will continue to drop in price. Consumer sensor technology has become extremely cheap and this will continue trickling down into the industrial space as more competition in the market appears.
Machines will be augmented with sensors that will allow them to monitor their state and be able to measure key machine performance markers. This data will be analysed by machine-learning algorithms, and predictive maintenance plans will be developed from this data. This will drastically reduce downtime due to unplanned maintenance and as a result increase company profit and production efficiency.
Internet of systems
The internet of systems will enable companies to leverage vast amounts of data gathered from all their factories. Lessons learnt and optimisations made can be shared across smart factories. Even machines can be shared on the network to truly create an autonomous supply chain. For example, if one factory is not able to meet production demand for a certain product, another factory that is underutilised can be autonomously roped in to assist with production. The logistics network can also be reconfigured to account for the change in manufacturing location.
Although true artificial general intelligence is still far off, rudimentary AI and machine-learning systems will become more common in smart factories due to the large amounts of data that needs to be collected, analysed and presented in a clear and concise format. This will allow a human to further optimise processes within the factory. AI systems will be able to point out inefficiencies in the system and will even be able to autocorrect those efficiencies with limited human interaction.