The trend toward and demand for greater flexibility in manufacturing by using machine and robot-based applications is unstoppable. The end result will be adaptable processes that can produce a batch of any size, with unprecedented efficiency. Industry 4.0 provides the concepts necessary to realize these goals, and Lee Van Avery has a look at what manufacturers will need in order to adapt over at Controldesign.com:
Industry 4.0 is so named because it’s the fourth incarnation of the Industrial Revolution. It represents the radical change that’s shaking the very foundations of the manufacturing floor. Digital factory software and 3D tools are driving that change forward.
Industry 4.0 is a new paradigm for the structure, planning and execution of production equipment and processes using modern IT and communication methods. It requires all-new ideas and concepts, and new software tools for the digital factory are blazing the trail.
First, 3D-based simulation software lets us visualize and validate processes and production tasks. Manufacturing plants are often re-planned while production is running. Software to do rudimentary modeling isn’t new. But to transform IIoT/Industry 4.0 concepts into reality, these model factories must become virtual twins of their production counterparts.
This goes beyond the geometric and kinematic to mimic detailed logic, behavior and control of the actual manufacturing units. This is the only way to move from stiff, prescribed processes to agile, self-organized production units.
Secondly, a virtual-twin model allows us to implement manufacturing processes, techniques and technologies that are far too expensive—or even impossible—without such simulation-based solutions. From simple to highly complex tasks, the more robotic applications we use, the greater the need for advanced programming and simulation.