Big Data, Cloud Computing Redefining Manufacturing Paradigms, Pushing Industry 4.0 Farther
The adage “work smarter, not harder” cannot be more evident in the advances brought forth by Industry 4.0 and its technological components.
Breaking down the industrial revolutions, 4.0 is the next and current way industries are manufacturing goods. Industrialization has gone through mechanization with steam and waterpower, to electrify the production line. Then came computers and robots that furthered automation.
That brings us to the present industrial iteration. Industry 4.0 harnesses all the components of previous revolutions and adds to it a very important concept — Big Data. And while industries are enjoying automation and power, another tangent continues to push 4.0 further. Manufacturers who adopt the “holy trinity” of Big Data, Cloud Computing and Industry 4.0 are realizing increased output, greater efficiency and reduced costs.
Manufacturers are realizing connecting technology to online systems makes up the Internet of Things (IoT). If IoT sounds like a broad notion, it is for good reason. A thing can range from a person implanted with a medical device, to a sensor in a car that tells the driver tire pressure is low. An IoT can be a natural or manufactured product that can be assigned an IP address for the sole purpose of transferring information via an online network. IoT has helped make factories smart by relaying production information in real-time, whether it’s monitoring assets or keeping an eye on processes.
Big Data comprises massive piles of information that would take humans years to go through and analyze manually, with little benefit. Today, that data can be molded into information that drives decisions for manufacturers. The data can come from sensors in the factory, to sales to supply-chain factors. Industry leaders are realizing the more data used, the more effective the process becomes.
The latest additions to Industry 4.0are advancements in Cloud Computing. Increasingly, industries are phasing out on-premises systems and migrating toward Cloud Service Providers such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. Companies are opting to have CSPs provide infrastructure, platforms, and software run on server farms to operate applications.
Cloud computing reduces costs for machinery that is high-powered and expensive. Lately, Cloud Manufacturing is evolving as a model to share resources on a cloud platform. Industries are experiencing intense pressure to cut costs and reduce carbon footprints. However, not everybody agrees on how Cloud Manufacturing can work.
Before companies rush to push everything into the cloud, experts suggest weighing the pros and cons of Cloud Computing.
- Cloud computing is great if the solution requires scalability. Most CSPs offer dynamic infrastructures that can go from small to huge without static restrictions.
- Companies trying to cut time spent on infrastructure engineering and management will find it with a CSP.
- Costs can be more flexible when companies adopt payment based on usage (e.g., companies are billed only for what they use).
- CSPs often provide top-notch documentation and support
- Any organization utilizing sensitive data must consider security and privacy issues. This is considered one of the biggest challenges facing Industry 4.0.
- CSPs require stable internet connections and are crucial for stability.
- A CSP may not be the optimal choice for companies looking to build applications for the long run. Technology never stops evolving.
Some tech experts recommend a compromise or a hybrid solution. Edge computing involves computing data that occurs close to the physical location creating the data. Fog computing sits in between the edge and the cloud and often serves as a data filter.
Data analytics, coupled with Cloud Computing, provides greater flexibility as it reshapes the production process. These components automatically help realize optimizing resources, establishing cost reduction and increases not only between industry and suppliers but customers as well. They give heightened intelligence to the production process from design to after the sale, according to Nancy Velasquez, who wrote about Dig Data, Cloud Computing and Industry 4.0 for the Journal of Computer Science & Technology.
With real-time information, team members can collaborate regardless of their physical locations.
While manufacturers must still contend with security challenges and a consensus on Industry 4.0architecture, the push to redefine industrialization continues.