Embracing Industry 4.0 manufacturing with automation software
Industry 4.0, or the fourth industrial revolution, is already occurring with the broad adoption of smart sensors, connectivity enhancements and cloud computing. Building on the improvements that computers brought to manufacturing, Industry 4.0 will enhance production through Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices and other state-of-the-art technology.
Although this digital transformation aims to make manufacturing more efficient, many business owners feel concerned about the new challenges of Industry 4.0. However, smart manufacturing comes with many benefits. Here's what you need to know to tackle this next phase of industry.
IT/OT convergence and Industry 4.0
In the past, information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) operated independently from one another in manufacturing organizations. IT was mainly used to support the management and the back office, while OT, which encompasses all the tools and assets involved in production, controlled machinery and equipment on the production floor without information from other parts of the organization. Today, Industry 4.0 developments such as the Internet of Things (IoT) have led IT and OT to converge, opening up new opportunities toward more intelligent manufacturing and unified business management.
When OT operated independently from IT, machines were programmed to complete highly specialized tasks and only those tasks. This setup will change under Industry 4.0. Smart machines use data from a variety of sources to adapt manufacturing processes to changing circumstances, enabling many of the capabilities you expect from a Smart Factory — automatic corrections, intelligently routed orders, visibility across the organization, predictive maintenance and more.
New challenges manufacturers must overcome
The last industrial revolution disrupted production significantly. During Industry 3.0, electronic devices such as integrated circuit chips made it possible to automate individual machines, increase productivity, and reduce costs. Industry 4.0 and IT/OT convergence will likely have similar effects. Businesses that know what to expect can implement solutions quickly and start benefiting from Smart Factory technology sooner. Digital transformation may create the following challenges for manufacturers during the transition to Industry 4.0:
- New business models: Critical tasks that profoundly impact the production will rely more on more on automated data collection and analysis. As a result, factories will be able to minimize errors and become more flexible, cost-efficient and competitive. Implementing Industry 4.0 IIoT technology may require you to rethink your business model and strategy.
- Operational disruptions: In a Smart Factory, many devices must work together. Process instabilities caused by antiquated assets and inability to communicate between systems can hurt your bottom line during the transition if they are not addressed in time. You can prevent operational disruptions by fixing any existing instabilities and implementing continuous monitoring for signs of potential problems in the network.
- Altered organizational processes: When transitioning to Industry 4.0, consider how you will make changes to your business strategy and operational processes in the long term. You may need to alter your supply chain, change how you interact with customers and hire new people with the skills to manage a complex digital network.
- Cybersecurity threats: The high degree of connectivity under Industry 4.0 automation requires an expansive network of interconnected devices to collect data. These devices introduce new security concerns, since every sensor acts as a point of entry. To meet this challenge, you'll need to choose devices and software with advanced security functionalities. Additionally, you must implement a general security strategy in your business – encompassing your assets and employees
Benefits of embracing Industry 4.0 with zenon
When IT systems and OT systems come together, manufacturing processes become more efficient and ultimately more lucrative. In addition, implementing Industry 4.0 technology can help you keep up with your competition and meet your organizational goals for growth. Here are just a few specific benefits of Industry 4.0 technology for manufacturers:
- Lower operating costs: When you embrace Industry 4.0 by implementing industrial automation software like zenon, you can significantly lower operating costs by using data insights to maximize machine, operational and energy efficiency. Furthermore, you can take proactive measures such as predictive maintenance even before an error occurs.
- Increased productivity: When you automate more systems in your factory, you improve production efficiency while freeing up human workers to focus on high-value tasks. The result is increased productivity throughout your organization.
- High product quality: Industrial automation software can detect problems with product quality and resolve them quickly and automatically or alert you to the problem. Furthermore, it enables the detailed analysis via reporting of real-time and historical data.
- Multi-site management: For businesses with a wide network of manufacturing plants, using a cloud-enabled industrial software can help them acquire and centralize real-time data from across the sites. This way, companies can draw insights from their plants more quickly and accurately and increase manufacturing efficiencies.
How zenon can help you transition
Depending on your company's size and current level of digitization, transitioning to Industry 4.0 may seem difficult. Yet the benefits — including lower costs, higher productivity and better product quality — make IIoT implementation well worth the effort.
At COPA-DATA, we help ease the transition to Industry 4.0 by providing flexible, easy-to-use industrial automation software. Our zenon Software Platform offers real-time reporting, seamless connectivity, situational awareness, flexible architecture and advanced security features to help you successfully merge IT and OT systems and transition to Industry 4.0.
- Multi-site architecture: To assist manufacturing companies that span multiple sites and work in collaboration with other businesses, zenon features a multi-site architecture using cloud computing. With this highly scalable architecture, machine-generated data is uploaded to the cloud in real-time, where it can be accessed from anywhere, including from mobile devices like tablets and smartphones.
- Advanced security features: zenon comes equipped with state-of–the-art security features, including role-based user administration, server redundancy, project versioning and comparison, authentication and network encryption to help you manage the emerging cybersecurity threats that accompany IIoT.
- Seamless ERP connectivity: zenon seamlessly connects machine-generated data with information from your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. This action will allow you to share data across your enterprise and improve sales, accounting, supply chain management and other ERP-level processes.
- Vendor-independent integration: zenon is a vendor-independent software platform that can integrate with manufacturing hardware from many different vendors. This makes implementation simpler and automates communication between distinct production entities. Because COPA-DATA is an independent software manufacturer, we can quickly develop additional functionalities to meet specific customer requirements.
Contact COPA-DATA to assist in your transition to Industry 4.0
If you have already started or are planning the transition to Industry 4.0, let us assist with your projects from start to finish and provide industrial software solutions to solve your company's unique challenges. To learn more, contact us today.